Archive for June 2006

Pet Loss And Grieving

Last Easter our beloved dog Shenandoah Meadow (Shendo) died suddenly. I had been “preparing” myself for this day her whole life as I new one day it would happen. She was healthy, full of life, love and energy. Shendo was the love of my life.

Glenn and I were grief stricken. Shendo was our baby girl, our cutie patooty. Glenn grieved deeply for days whereas I still have not. I am afraid it will hurt too much and will never stop.

We go through many stages in dealing with the death of a loved one. Shock, denial, blame, guilt. Why didn’t the vet or I know? Did I do something wrong? Did she know how much I loved her?

Next there may be anger or depression along with continued blame or guilt. Even as I write this editorial I push feelings aside or I may cry. My head hurts, I think I have stopped breathing and my stomach aches. I feel lonely for Shendo and sorry for myself. I fear I let her down.

When she died we received a wealth of support. Friends realized how cherished Shendo was offering loving support. They sent flowers and bulbs for the garden we will create in her honor. The neighborhood children made us a beautiful card and told us of the sadness they felt when their pet hamster died. It was wonderful to know that others understood how we felt and grieved with us. There are people who cannot comprehend a pet being a family member. “It’s just a dog,” they say, not recognizing that these wonderful creatures are among our greatest gifts in life. My memories of Shendo are happy ones. They come to me suddenly and make me smile.

Specializing in special needs pets we have experienced the loss of many of our geriatric clients and it is difficult.

Laddie was a Westie. We were buddies and I loved him. When it was time his mom and I together held Laddie as he fell into a deep sleep. We wept for our loss but will always hold Little Laddie dear in our hearts.

When having to make a decision of euthanasia there is much anguish. How do you pay to have someone take your pet’s life? It is a commitment that comes with a great deal of self-doubt. Often however, it is our final gift of love to our pets.

Recently was the loss of Cleo, a lovely white Shepherd. Her death was a shock to all that loved this pretty girl. Cancer had filled her body. For the love of Cleo her mom let her go.

Being surrounded by animals has helped me to survive the loss of Shendo. As a matter of fact I was able to, for the most part just not deal with her death. However, this can be somewhat crippling. We rescued a dog named Sadie early December and she is about 12 hundred years old. Why such an old dog, only lose her shortly? Simple, we have the love to give her. When we say goodbye it will hurt, but for now we are good for each other.

We all deal with the loss of our pets differently. You may have understanding family, friends or co-workers. Your pastor or school counselor can also help you to work through your pain. Talk with your pet’s health care team or a Pet Loss and Grieving Counselor. There is online help you can access as well such as Petvets and

Suffering loss, it can be difficult to think clearly so you might consider in advance what arrangements you would like to have for your pet once he has departed.

You may be surprised at the options available to you. The websites listed here will help you to decide what is best for you and your pet. Silent Friends, Departed pets and CVS Cremations.

If someone you care about is suffering the loss of a pet convey that you are taking the distressing experience of the mourner seriously. Listen and speak with empathy, understanding, support, sensitivity and compassion. Support can be found at

Suffering the loss of a pet does not always mean the pet has died. Pet loss is often due to a missing animal. This can be the most difficult loss of all as there are no answers to what has happened to the pet. People experiencing this type of loss are often left fearing the worse for their animal.

Pre-loss bereavement is when you know without a doubt that your pet will soon die. Whatever the trigger, pre-loss bereavement begins when you realize that you are going to lose your pet. You don’t know when, but you know that you have reached “the beginning of the end.”

For some the thought of allowing themselves to love another pet is out of the question. For others pain is eased by the addition of a new pet. You cannot “replace” your loved one but giving another pet a home is the biggest tribute you can pay to your lost loved one. The gift you give each other is immeasurable. Just think of all the times your pet made you smile while they were here. You will smile again just to remember and learn to love again.

In memory of all our friends that have left our lives but not our hearts.

  • Shendo
  • Katie
  • Boots
  • Cleo
  • Buttons
  • Simba
  • Murphy
  • Cookie
  • Laddie
  • Chomps
  • Taffi
  • Sheila

With love from the Pawsitive Approach Pet Services Team.