Audrey has owned and trained Malamutes for over 15 years from puppyhood into adulthood. She has also rescued many other dog breeds.
Coping With Losing Your Best Friend
I have learned over the past two years that losing your best friend is sometimes harder from one pet to the other. It is as if there is no rhyme or reason to it, but here are the things that have helped me heal. That's not to say that I will miss him any less, but these tips have made the pain tolerable.
- Celebrate your good fortune that you had him or her in your life!
- Try and focus on the happiest memories and the good things.
- Remember him or her with pictures, collages, even a desktop slideshow.
- Be thankful for the many moments you had in spite of your loss—the glass is half full.
- Allow yourself to be sad whenever it comes upon you. Cry when you must and laugh when you can.
- Don't give up on another dog or pet. I tend to believe that your best friend will 'come back to you' in ways you have not realized yet.
- Realize life is not always fair but that time does make heartbreak easier to take.
- Let yourself grieve without guilt, shame or remorse. We cannot change the events in our lives—we can only accept them and move on.
Of All the Dogs in the World
To say I have loved and lost before when it came to dogs would be an understatement. I have been so blessed in my lifetime to own at least 15 dogs. However, as much as they were so incredibly special to me, I have never taken the death of one of my dogs as hard as I've taken losing Griffin. I have come to the conclusion that somehow he was my therapy dog and I didn't even know I had one!
Everyone Has a Favorite Dog
I had just lost one of my most favorite dogs ever when I lost Kodi. People that know me say every dog is my favorite, but unfortunately, they would be wrong. There were favorites—and many of them—I just couldn’t help it. I have been blessed with having all these dogs over my lifetime (which was still not enough I will add), but there were always sublime standouts. I did not want to start over again. I was at that point where I had just one dog left and she was older, and frankly, I just didn’t want to go through that pain again myself.
Then I saw him. My friend, who was a Malamute breeder, sent me a picture of four puppies (two of them long-hair malamutes) and I fell in love with him. However, I told myself “No, can’t go there again” and told the breeder thanks but no thanks. It hurts too much and how could I ever replace my Kodi? He was part Malamute and he had been one of the magic ones. I talked to my husband about it and he definitely didn’t want to go down heartbreak lane again.
That being said, I decided to leave it at that. Cut our losses so to speak and quit going through the trauma. The last thing I needed to see (though in retrospect the best thing that ever happened to me) was the movie The Proposal. The puppy in that movie did it. It simply sealed the deal. I walked out of the theater, turned to Bob and said simply “I’m so sorry but this decision goes to a higher power. I have to have that puppy.” It seemed fortuitous as my friend had already given the puppy away but she got him back just for me.
Griffin Was "The One"
To say Griffin was the dog of all time would be putting it mildly. I feel like I’m Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but how do I describe the ways I have loved that dog? I’ve known a lot of dogs in my day obviously but this little fellow was just surreal. I wanted to name him Dante, which ironically means enduring. He has certainly put a stamp on my heart I will carry with me forever.
I could go on and on and wax eloquent about his many characteristics but suffice it to say that two years later and change, I still cry over losing him almost every day. I dream about him, but I suppose that is a good thing. He was, in a word, incredible. He was so beautiful, and I mean inside and out. Every day that I had him I thought how blessed I was to have him in my life and how incredibly happy I am still to have known him and raised him.
Malamutes are not known for being as “teachable” as Griffin was. I always laugh when I say it, but he would literally do anything for a treat. The promise of just a treat and a few words of instruction or encouragement were enough to get him to do anything I asked!
Why I Loved This Dog so Much
He was majestic. He was incredibly handsome. Every person who ever passed him on the street, saw him in the back of our car or came to visit was just in awe of this gorgeous creature who also happened to be almost human. We had people pass us in their car when we had the back open, put it in reverse and come back just to look at him and go “wow, what a beautiful dog.” That was putting it mildly.
He had a language all his own, and he talked to everyone he met and to us every day. He was one of the most social dogs I’ve ever seen. He loved nothing more than to travel with us, be with us or to just talk to us. He loved walking down the streets, going on hikes or cruising counters. He was the expert of all time there and made it look like you were the one who was mistaken. There was nothing left of anything, so no crumbs or incriminating evidence. He would just look at us innocently as if to say “What are you talking about? What food?”
He would lie next to us in bed just for a bit to say he loved us and put his head on you in just the right place or cuddle against you just so. I called it Griffin acupressure. Instead of being frightened, most people were drawn to all 95 pounds of him. We had people run out of hotels to touch him or call down from balconies exclaiming they had never seen such a beautiful boy.
A young baseball team termed him "polar bear" and came outside in the pouring rain with multiple other people from the hotel just to pet him. We had people who followed us in the parks just to ask about him or pet him. We had families with children hold an elevator door just to let him ride with them and pet him rather than be frightened of him and his size.
He was such a special fellow. Walking downtown one cold wintry day, we had a throng of kids scream “snow dog” at the top of their lungs and laden with hats, coats and backpacks come running at him. They literally flung themselves on him and he just ate it all up rather than eating them up! I always said he was like a life-sized teddy bear. His fur was so soft that I can still almost feel it when I look at his pictures.
On top of being just an incredibly beautiful dog, he possessed the quality I find most endearing in life, which is humor. He had to be the funniest dog I have ever had the pleasure to own. His mannerisms, his antics, his training moments, his “talk”—all of it just made us laugh over and over.
Malamutes are most often thought of as snow dogs, yes, but they are also thought of as dangerous by many and as dogs that can be a bit challenging. If anything, Griffey was predictable. He would do anything for attention or treats and he loved, loved, loved people. He just loved life. He did so many comical things that we never had a day where we did not laugh over a “Griffin” moment.
He watched TV, ran upstairs to see my daughter and son-in-law on Skype and then tried to find out where they were hiding behind my desk. Yet, he was sweet and gentle enough that when we brought his niece home when she was 6 weeks old and he was two years old, he showed her the ropes and was the best mentor a puppy could have had. I marveled at him every day that I had him, and I truly thanked God for the time I had with him. I still do. No matter how much it hurts to have lost him.
Griffin in Training Making Everyone Laugh
Griffin Gallery—Some of Thousands
People die every day of cancer. Dogs die every day of cancer or tragedies like poisoning or being hit by a car and much, much worse. I think the thing that upset me the most about losing my Griff was that I tried so hard to appreciate him, to give thanks every day for him. I was in love with him as a dog because he was absolutely incredible. I took such good care of all of my dogs but it just didn’t make any sense to me at all that this dog, so full of life and love, just all of a sudden ran across the deck one day and yelped.
We had just come home from walking and he started to limp on his leg. He was so very much alive and so happy in all that he did that it seemed illogical that it could be something terrible. He was only 6 years old. How could anything be seriously wrong with him? Even the vets thought it was just a muscle sprain. No one thought it was serious enough to take x-rays, including us.
Resting and medications didn’t make it go away and poor Griffin was just frustrated. He wanted to live. He wanted to run and cruise counters. He wanted to have his life back. I am most grateful for the fact that after this started, before we knew how bad it was, we went on a week’s vacation. We always travel with our dogs and Griff and Gabby always went with us to hotels and on our outings and treks. At least I had the time to say goodbye (though little did I know it was going to be goodbye). As sick as he was, he was his usual magnetic self. We had time to cuddle. We had time to go to the places I wanted him to see though he was hampered by the limp so we could not do much. But he was with us for a full week and I treasure that time I had with him now. I do feel some closure over that.
We had an appointment on the day after we got home from vacation with an orthopedic vet because we couldn’t understand why he wasn’t getting better even with the medications and rest. Unfortunately, when they went to finally x-ray my beautiful boy, his leg snapped because the tumor had eaten away the bone. He went from somewhat in pain to being in excruciating pain. He also couldn’t walk on his leg anymore and now had to drag it. Just the sound of it still haunts me.
We were told they could amputate his leg (which would be a horrible thing for a 95-pound dog with cancer and one as energetic as Griffin) but that unfortunately and even more tragically, it would not save him in the slightest. He went from a little uncomfortable to crying all night and hardly being able to move with his now-nonfunctional front leg.
It did not take long for us both to realize that this was not fair of us to do to our beloved dog. It literally broke my heart, but we had to have him put to sleep to ease his pain. I could not live with him suffering like that. They gave us the option to keep increasing his medication but unless he was practically comatose, he was in too much pain.
The Aftermath of Losing My Dog
In the aftermath of it all, I’ve beaten myself up at least a million times. Why didn’t I see it sooner? When did it start and how did all that time go by and I couldn’t see it? What could I have done to save him? I have never been angry about it except at myself I suppose for not knowing. Would it have changed his outcome? No, I don’t think so at all. It is a genetic thing and it is most of all just so horribly tragic.
The most magnificent dog in the world should not have had to suffer that way and we should not have had to lose him. At first I would tell people “You just don’t understand. He was so special!” What I realized later was the fact that we all have had a dog that was the most magnificent in our eyes and in our hearts. It certainly can’t hurt any less for anyone to lose their best friend as it hurt for us to lose ours. I saw him everywhere and I still think of him every day, even though we have since moved. He is part of us and he will always be part of me. Unfortunately and fortunately, it is as if he was just here 5 minutes ago.
I read something very profound one day that said “Why do you put a question mark where God has put a period?” Humbling and so very true. I cannot change what life/fate/God’s will has decided where my dog is concerned, and I need to accept it for what it is, one of life’s heartbreaking events.
Today, I try and dwell on the bucket load of blessings he gave me and I recall to the moment what made me laugh about him every day. I have literally thousands of pictures and videos and he lives on through them. He was such a sweet, sweet dog, especially for a malamute. He was one of a kind! He was so incredibly intelligent and observant. I swear he was an angel in fur. He soothed me every day that I had him. He was my therapy dog without me knowing I needed one. I could have done anything with him by my side and I did. I miss him every single day and I think I will miss him until the day that I die. He was that special.
I did not know how I could possibly ever go on but then of course, there was the "little" matter of his niece, who was broken into pieces as well. She absolutely adored Griffin. She was more devastated than us if that was possible because 4 months earlier, she also lost our “queen bee,” Denaya, our rescued malamute who was probably 16 years old. In a couple of months, Gabby had suffered the loss of her entire canine pack.
As humans, Bob and I cried and cried. We still cry over Griffin, but Gabby just gave up. She came into my office on a daily basis and literally threw herself on the floor in desperation as if to say “What do I do now?” Oh, that I could just throw myself on the floor because I would have said the same thing over and over and just given up.
Why do certain dogs mark us? Why do they wrap their paws around our hearts and make it feel so full and then break it apart when they leave? That’s the magical question. We tried everything with Gabby and she would spark for a few minutes with walking. She even became a retriever playing ball in the park and would run until she was exhausted and even came back with the ball! It would always come crashing down though when we were home again. It was very obvious she was grieving and probably going into depression from her loneliness.
Bob was the one who finally said we needed to do something. We felt that she was going to give up and die if we didn’t find her a companion. Enter Mad Max. We ended up going again with a puppy, and though he looks nothing like Griffin, he “is” Griffin in many ways. He is not the same exact replica. That is probably a very good thing but then again, he is comical in his own ways.
Strangely, he does things that Griffin used to do. In fact, he adopted Griffin’s chair (I could not leave it behind and brought it with us when we moved). He has many similarities to Griff but he is his own boy. Again, that is good. Most importantly, Gabby did not give up. She rose to the occasion and embraced her new pal with all the zest and love that Griffin gave to her when she came on the scene. The most treasured and bittersweet moment was seeing Gabby “smile” in pictures when she was playing with Max, tolerating Max, and showing him the ropes that her beloved Uncle Griffin showed her.
Gabby gets to be a mom at last!
Coping With This Tragic Death
I believe Griff lives on in spite of his tragic death and I only hope that he is running free somewhere and saying it’s all okay...or that he is waiting for us on the other side. He was a treasure I have never seen the likes of nor will I ever again I imagine. I will always miss him because he made such an imprint on my heart, but I do believe he is coming back to us in his own ways through Max and just by us remembering him. There will never be another one like him, but to have known him and to have loved him was the ultimate gift of a lifetime.
I have thought about this so many times and truthfully have gone at it from every angle possible.
Questions We All Ask When Our Pets Die?
- Was it meant to teach us something?
- Did it happen to prepare us for the other losses that occurred over those 2 years since Griffin left us?
- Will it ever get easier to look back without grieving for him still?
- Is it possible that I will ever get over losing my all-time favorite canine companion?
I don’t know the answers to any of those questions but I do believe that perhaps time at least soothes all wounds if not heals them. It is certainly easier today than it was 2 years ago or even one year ago perhaps.
The only conclusion that I’ve come to is that everyone grieves in their own way and that healing is never going to be the same for everyone. Every experience will be different, just as with the grief I felt over losing other dogs. In those cases, I did heal more quickly but that really has nothing to do with the current grief that I feel from my loss of Griffin.
Unbelievable to me still is that I lost a Labrador at exactly the same age to the same exact condition and accepted that tragedy much easier than this time. That in itself made me feel very guilty for some time, but I realize now that it is about how much love I felt for Griffin that is perhaps prolonging the grief and loss. I did not love Mariah any less—I just loved Griffin more somehow.
All I know in the end is that I loved him with all my heart and to have done that is far better than what my life would have been without him in it. He was priceless to me and my time spent with him will always bring me joy, in spite of the pain of losing him too soon.
Saying Goodbye Is So Very Hard to Do
In my heart and in my mind, we walk along the ocean still and he is whole and healthy.
Rest in peace, my sweet, sweet boy, and thank you for all the happiness you gave us. Thank you for visiting me in my dreams and for mentoring Max! (Please try harder there—he needs a lot more help, bless his heart!)
Six years was definitely not long enough. I will never forget you.
Why Do We Love Our Dogs?
There are a lot of reasons and I've come to realize every single one of them in the past two years!
- Pleasers—they try to do what's right to please us (most of the time).
- Unconditional love generators—try to make them stop loving you!
- Tactile soothers—in Griff's case, a living, breathing furry body pillow or a real-life teddy bear.
- Joy makers—laughter and merriment because they do the funniest things.
- Goal makers—I want to train my smart malamute to do tricks (not easy)!
- Faith builders—through their innocent eyes, life is simpler.
Use Whatever Tools You Can to Cope with Loss
Reading articles and books such as "Losing My Best Friend" noted below really helped me cope with my loss. Even though it is hard, I love the line remember them with tears and laughter because the tears are inevitable but the laughter always comes back as well.
Having loads of pictures and videos has helped me tremendously as well. I can put myself right back there and again be so grateful for the ride with Griff.
As I was trying to heal from suffering my terrible loss, I found myself doing a lot of writing about it. As I mentioned, it took me quite a long while to write this!
I further went on to write a book about it, pouring my heart and soul into that. I was hoping to aid others who might be going through the same experience and possibly having as hard a time as I have had getting over my favorite dog of all time.
I have found a great inner peace and comfort in being able to channel my grief into a positive from such a sad "chapter" in my life in losing him.
In short, doing whatever we can to heal ourselves is the ticket. If we can somehow learn to express what we feel or even just get to a point of understanding it a bit more, we can achieve the ability to grieve but not quite as acutely. I still cried many tears in writing my book, but it did help. I only hope that it goes on to help others as well.
As I said above, I always think that somehow Griffin speaks to me and wants me to be okay since he's gone. Yesterday, a very dear friend of mine at work shared a video with me from Animal Watch with Anneka going to visit the giant malamutes owned by Lorna Bartlett from Arctic Rainbow Malamutes.
What immediately stood out to me and almost knocked me off my chair was Taggie, the beautiful long-hair malamute who came in the sliding door and seemed to gravitate toward Anneka. I began to cry. It was liking watching a movie of my sweet Griffin. She looked like him, she had many of the same mannerisms and it was just surreal. It made me miss him terribly, but then in some way, it made me think of Griff when he was healthy, happy and so very personable.
Don't misunderstand—all of Lorna's malamutes are beautiful and enchanting. I could see Gabby in one and my rescued malamute Denaya who died in 2015 as well. Even Dooby reminded me of a malamute I was going to adopt after Griffin died but he was a little too big for us.
I contacted Lorna just to tell her thank you for the incredible gift she had given me of somehow "seeing Griffin" again. I will keep the video forever in my favorites and look at it maybe when I'm missing him. Lorna wrote me back that Dooby had just died 3 weeks ago and again I cried, this time for them as I know what a devastating loss that is. My heart goes out to them because malamutes truly do grab you by the heart and become part of your human "pack."
Part of working through grief I think is just learning to take it a day at a time and finding ways that bring our pet back to us in some small way. This video did it for me and for that, I shall be eternally grateful. It is yet another coping tool and a wonderful way to remember my sweet boy.
Animal Watch Giant Alaskan Malamutes
Good Resource on Amazon
Questions & Answers
Question: Thank you for this beautiful story ❤️ I just lost my dog and she was going to turn 6. My heart is broken. My husband and I said to ourselves that we won’t have any pets anymore because the pain is so strong and we are devastated after losing our fur baby.... I don’t know if I really need to get a new dog so I don’t block myself .... I also feel guilty for not having been able to get her help sooner so she was healed and with us now.... any thoughts?
Answer: I do think that it is a personal decision. Some of us don't want to get another dog because the pain is too deep and we don't want to ever have to go through that again. I think that is a normal reaction. Others think that it is important to allow another dog in so that you can heal. It will vary from person to person. There are so many emotions that come into play when we lose a dog because dogs are just always 'here' for us. We don't expect them to leave us and especially not so young. We can consume ourselves with guilt over what we should have done, but I always think that they know us - deeper than any person on the planet probably - and they know our trueness. If you loved her, she knew you did. Please don't guilt yourself over it as I always think that life has a way of just playing out no matter how careful we are and how we think we can control it all. It is just a tragedy pure and simple and I am so very sorry for your loss. I think if you just let go of the guilt part and grieve for your loss, you'll know if you should or should not get another dog. It will 'come to you' and you will know if it is the right thing or not. Hugs to you.
Question: I had that once in a lifetime dog, Buster! The one I have now, Pepper reminds me of him. Sometimes, I really want to believe it is my Buster reincarnated! I do believe they can reach us thru other dogs. It's been 9 years since his passing and I still cry for him! Thank you for sharing your beautiful story-it was mine too. Do you believe in doggy reincarnation?
Answer: I do - each of my extra special, special ones have come back to me in the next dog -many of the same traits. I have to believe that they are trying in their own way to tell me it's okay and they are happy when they are. I surely hope it is so! I always wink at them and say something. With Max, I will hug him and say - ah Griffin - I know you're in there too. I love you baby boy. Pepper sounds like just the thing to help you remember Buster. I don't think we ever get over them completely but we can heal a little day by day. Hugs to you and so sorry for your loss as well.
Question: I have just lost my beautiful dog Blossom who died of a blood sarcoma within 3 weeks of diagnosis. Although she was twelve and arthritic I wasn’t expecting her to go. I’m now feeling her loss deeply. She made me laugh too, she brought so much joy to other people. She was so sweet, so innocent and so smart too, I swear she could read my mind at times. Thank you for sharing your story and your grief so I can share mine. Do you think dogs can feel what we’re thinking?
Answer: I'm so sorry for your loss and I'm also so sorry I did not see this until today! I definitely think dogs can feel what we are thinking. I know mine seem to always know if I'm happy or sad - but Griffin especially 'got' me in a way that no other dog ever has. He was just ethereal so to speak - like an angel in a dog's body. I'm so sorry Blossom left you too soon. I don't think we ever are ready to say goodbye but especially when they mean so much to us. I do know though that I did not want Griff to suffer and that was the only way that I could let him go. He was in such pain and so quickly that we could not let him suffer. You did the right thing - even though it is the hardest thing we will ever have to do in our lives probably. She knew though and she knew that you were selfless. Try to think of that - she knew how much you loved her and did not want her to go. I think they are still with us - somewhere their spirit lives on and they send us their blessings and their love. You will always be her wonderful master, no matter what happened. Take care and again, I'm so sorry for your grief as well.
Question: I had to put my first dog to sleep a little over a month ago. Fuzzy was a gorgeous miniature poodle, only 7 years old. He got diabetes and lost his vision, and then he quit eating. I still feel like there should have been something I could have done. I feel like I abandoned him because I was not there when he went to sleep. How can I stop feeling so guilty?
Answer: We all have different levels of coping with our pet's death. My son had a similar experience, in fact, the same deadly disease. His dog was just a little older than your Fuzzy. He absolutely adored his dog, Hutch, and when he had to make the decision to put him down, he could not bear it. I totally understood as he was my little boy who tried to rescue birds that hit the window and gave them mouth-to-beak resuscitation. He just couldn't be with him and feel that he put an end to his life. I think we all have to do what is best for us - and it takes nothing at all away from your dog's love for you - or my son's dog's love for him. We all just deal with this issue differently. Fuzzy would not want you to feel guilt or dismay - he had a good life with you so please, forgive yourself. There truly is nothing to forgive. You did the right thing by ending his suffering. That is what is important. If you love him, let him go so to speak, but know he will always, always, always be a part of you no matter how his life ended. Sending virtual hugs. I am so sorry for your loss as well.
Question: I lost my dog Max last month. He was nine years and 4 months and suffered from kidney failure. I did everything possible for me to add quality to his last months and days. He passed away at home in my arms. I seem to lose hope every day. I'm sinking further in grief. Why do I feel guilty if I even think to move on?
Answer: I think is it very rare to get over a tragedy so quickly, so I think that your grief is completely normal. I lost Griffin in 2015 and it is now 2020. I still miss him and still feel guilty at some odd times because I wonder if I did everything I could have done for him. I know I did, but then doubt or sadness start to creep back into my mind. I also felt very guilty about getting a new dog - our Max. However, I know it was the right thing to do because my dog that remained was heartbroken. It was just the right thing to do for her, but it also turned out to be the best thing for us as well. Having someone else to channel all that love into really did help us get over our grief of losing our most precious dog. I think as long as we try and help our pets, we will always be okay in the end. It just takes time. There is no meter running on how long someone grieves for a pet - or for a person. We just try and own up to it, feel it, acknowledge it, but then try and move on to a plateau of sorts I think. I now try and remember HOW MANY wonderful moments I had with that dog... What a wonderful and precious gift I had in him. You had that in Max and you felt it to be so good to him when he needed you most. Most importantly - HE knew that and knew that you loved him. We have to give ourselves a bit of grace and let ourselves off the hook. Given the circumstances, we could not change them for our guys and we did the very best we could. That is enough and your love is/was enough. I wish you peace and sending you virtual hope that you will find an ease in your grief over time. It will always be there - my love and missing Griffin is always with me - but I can now see how blessed I was to have had him in my life. For that, I guess the pain of losing him was "worth" it. I wish I had not but in reality, I would never have been ready for him to go because I loved him that much. Be grateful for your Max time - I know you are and will always be. He will come again to you in other ways!
Question: Your Griff story is much like mine. I am so sorry for your loss. Can't stop crying and people think I am a fool. Although I had both my dogs for twelve years, the last two i had to lift them up so they could do their business. Letting go of my baby girl two days before Thanksgiving was the worst thing and I regret the day I did it. I wont get another dog for some time, but is there a way to become more open to accepting a dog in the future? I am so heartbroken i cannot function.
Answer: I am SO sorry for your loss. I did not see this until today! What a terrible thing to lose your best friend before a holiday. I lost my beloved lab right before Christmas one year and it was devastating - even though she was 14-1/2. It doesn't really matter how old they are - if they have forged a bond in your heart for some reason more than other dogs, it is like cutting part of yourself off. I'm so sorry and yes, it does take time and eventually you can love again. I love Max a tremendous amount now thinking I never would be able to - and that kind of scares me too as I don't want to lose him either! I don't think it is the overwhelming love that I felt for Griff but it definitely is there - even though he is a wicked boy!!! Thinking of you and wishing you peace. It will get better with time. Hugs.
Question: Do you think getting a new dog has helped or hindered your grieving the loss of Griffin?
Answer: I do think that having another dog and even having Gabby (Griff's niece) has helped me tremendously. It is not that they are replacements by any means - but they just fill the space with their love and their needs I guess. They remind me of who he was and they make me smile in other ways. Again, they cannot fill that special place that Griffin will always occupy but they give me peace and I treasure that. Levi will always be with you - no matter how much time passes, I look at a picture of Griff or a video and I tear up. I still miss him because he was THAT special. I love the polar bear image - that was my Griff... A big old teddy bear polar bear. It is so hard letting go but it is possible to find joy in another dog. It is never quite the same feeling if you love one of them that much, but it is pretty close. I see Griff from time to time especially in Max and that brings me a lot of calm.
Question: I too just lost my dog and had not realized he was my therapy dog. He was my best friend and I can’t wrap my head around the fact that’s he’s gone. Put him to sleep due to bladder stones. He was only twelve. I miss him so so much. How can I come to terms about him passing away?
Answer: There is no magic time table about coming to terms with such a loss, and I am so very sorry for your loss. Whether they are 20 years old or 20 months old, if they are special to you and fill something inside of you, it doesn't matter... It is just a horrific loss. It is one of the things in life (I've found) that just takes a lot of time. Some of my dogs more than others, but as I wrote about Griff, he was extra special. Something in him just made it unbearable to lose him. He definitely was my therapy dog and like you, I did not realize I had one or needed one. I can only say that the pain lessens in time and the reality of them not suffering anymore takes over. I would never have wanted him to suffer at all and he was suffering horribly in such a short period of time. I could not do that to him and that was how I made my decision (with my husband) and we could see no other way forward. However, it left a huge hole in our lives and in our hearts - it is still there. Every day, it does get a little easier. I could not be bitter over it simply because I was given SUCH a gift and I had him in my life which meant the world to me. I have come to the conclusion that he was just meant to be for that period of time and to teach me many things, unfortunately, grief among them. Since I lost him, I lost both my parents so I suppose in some way, I was able to understand the grieving process more simply because I was so struck by losing Griffin. I would also say that all the stages are normal - it has taken me since 2015 to even process losing him. I still miss him - and that is a blessing and a curse all in one. Again, because I had him, I cannot remain sad too long though and have to just remind myself how very blessed I was to have had him at all in my life. Having Gabby and now Max has helped as well. I cannot imagine if he had been my only dog. I think that is how I have coped over the years with losing dogs - I have always had other dogs and somehow caring for them has eased the pain a bit. The same has happened with Max and Gabby. There is NO replacement in the world for Griffin but they do make me laugh and sometimes I even see my Griffin coming through in either one of them, especially Max. It is as if he is trying to nudge me and say I'm still here, mom. Sending you virtual hugs and hope that you will find peace with your tough, tough decision. Know that he would not have wanted to suffer and loved you always most of all. It is a gift that we give them in letting them go but it is such a hard, hard decision. Take care. Be well.
Question: I lost my dog a year ago and I am trying to cope with it. I am struggling. I am not happy. I am always down. When I am at school, I can't focus on my work and sometimes I just break down. Every time I see her on my phone I start crying. I am so sad and when I was going though a hard time she used to always be there. I know it sounds weird, but I talked to her and I hugged her at the end. I just felt better but I don't have her with me now, so what do I do?
Answer: I'm so sorry for your loss. I know how we come to depend on our special therapy dogs to help us heal and when they are gone, it feels like there is a huge void where they were. I would just try and tell myself that it is normal to grieve when you have suffered such a tremendous loss and then try and think of ways that you can not 'replace' her when you get stressed but ways that you can cope better with anxiety. That may or may not involve getting another dog. Sometimes, people are so lonesome for who they lost that they cannot fathom getting another dog and others seem to be able to transfer that grief into starting over with a new pet. It is never the same when you have lost your favorite but it can bring peace and ease your suffering. There are also support groups for grieving pet owners, and that might be a good alternative as well. Wishing you peace in your struggles. I totally understand and am so sorry for your loss.
Question: I lost my dog five years ago and I still haven't been able to have another dog. I love dogs and I feel the need to have another one but every time I think asking my parents for a new one the fear of losing it too gets me and I prefer to not have one. I still sometimes dream about her or forget that she's no longer with us and wait for her. I've never thought I'm not over her death but today I just couldn't not cry. Is this common after all these years?
Answer: Grief never has a time table and I am so sorry for your loss. I'm also sorry I did not see this question until today! I think that grief hits us all a bit differently. Some of it takes us surprise as well. I can look at a picture of Griff (who died in 2015) and still start to cry for missing him. I think it is a normal response to never want to go through that pain again and some people actually will themselves to feel that way. They do not want to experience the pain of losing another pet or something they love so much. That is a normal response. It becomes a personal decision. I know myself that I've been grateful for the distraction - for having another dog to pour my energy into to not replace Griffin but to somehow divert my grief into something positive. I know he would want me to be happy and not miss him terribly so that is how I self-talk myself into it I guess. It is rewarding to have another dog and see how they respond to your love and attention. It cannot replace the one you lost but it is rewarding and heartwarming nonetheless. Good luck in your journey and I am very sorry for your loss.
© 2017 Audrey Kirchner
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 02, 2020:
Thank you so much for sharing your story about Whiskey - what a great name! I am so glad you all had that time with him. Ironically, Griffin died 5 years ago yesterday and I was recalling how awful that day was and how I felt. It is just the hardest thing to do in the world, but the best thing we can do for them when they are suffering.
I do still miss him terribly just because he was THAT special. I have been able to move on and love Max (and of course Gabby) without fail but there will always just be a spot where Griffin will always be that one in a million. He just went too soon for my heart to accept but life is just life sometimes. I wish you all peace and gratefulness for the time you had together. He sounds like my Griff in many ways. Let's hope and pray that Whiskey and Griffin are romping somewhere free of pain and distress - or perhaps they have come back to be someone else's angels, for I truly believe that. Hugs to you all from afar. Take care and know in time you will be able to look at those pics and they will make you smile and remember how special he was/is - will always be.
NK on September 02, 2020:
My parents and I just put our beloved golden retriever, Whiskey, to sleep this morning. He was our first dog, but very, very quickly I realized how special he was. His gentleness, his understanding, his special individual bond with each of us and his ability to just draw people to him out of love and joy. I kept telling my folks, we won't see another one like him in our lifetimes, he's one in a million.
I don't know why i'm writing this, i just flew in amidst the pandemic and was lucky enough to spend his last 4 days with him. I've been working overseas for 6 years, but came home to be with him every 2.5 - 3 months for 10 - 15 days, and it was never enough.
To be honest, hearing that you cry for Griffin even after two years, terrifies me, not just for myself but more for my folks. Their lives truly revolved around him and his routine and i'm just praying to god that we continue to find happiness in our lives without him around us.
Whiskey lived a full and happy life and was arguably the most loved dog in the world. There's a part of me that hopes someone else could help fill that void, yet there's another part of me knows this connection was too special to happen again. And I don't know how to deal with that.
Thank you for sharing your post. I did not have the courage to read large parts of it, especially parts about what led to griffin's health deterioration. I must have a million pictures of whisk on different phone's and devices, I feel I should compile to help us in our grieving process but I can't muster the strength to look at his picture.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 26, 2020:
Oh Jamie - I am SO sorry for your loss. I do not think there could be anything more painful that having someone be responsible for killing our pet. I know it will not help but I would report it to whoever did it - meaning the company.
Your pain is real. I do not think that feeling all of those feelings are unusual when something that traumatic and devastating happens to you. I cannot imagine losing one of my dogs like that. Any way we lose them is heartbreaking but that seems so senseless and so unfair. I'm so very sorry for your loss. You will learn to live with it for sure - we always seem to - but something that is traumatic can bother you for a very long time. It is part of the process of dealing with something that is just unspeakably cruel or jarring to our very soul.
Please know I'm thinking of you and sending you virtual hugs. I totally understand the depth of your sadness and your loss. Just know that Molly loved YOU beyond the moon and back. She would not have wanted to go and she will always, always be with you in your heart. She will come back to you somehow and let you know she is still there. I truly believe that. They are gone but never, ever forgotten. Again, I am so sorry for your tragedy today. It makes my heart and my chest hurt and makes me cry for your loss. Take care and know you have a group of people who know your loss and are there with you in spirit. I had a Molly too - god love her and may she also rest in peace.
Jamie on August 26, 2020:
Somebody opened our garden gate this morning and didn't close it. This resulted in my beloved Molly running out into the nearby road and being killed by a vehicle. There aren't a set of words to describe the devastation that I feel right now. I work from home and she's always by my side or on my feet. I keep having waves of complete meltdowns bursting into tears and my chest physically hurts. I have this overwhelming dread that I may never get over this. At the very least it's going to take a very long time. All of this because the delivery person couldn't be bothered to close the gate behind him/her. I kinda know that there isn't a magic answer and only time can ease this pain. But here I am anyway writing this down because it's somewhat of a relief.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 09, 2020:
That is SO heartbreaking. I totally understand and am so sorry for your loss. Five years old is just not 'fair' as Griffin's loss at 6 years old was not fair either. Your pain is normal and your crying appropriate. I can say that it gets easier with time but that really is very little comfort when you are missing your very best buddy. Benson is a darling name. I can only say that the thing that tipped the scales for us was his pain. He all of a sudden had this terrible disease that we just did not see. We could absolutely not bear to see him suffer and I think you must have felt the same. It is the hardest decision in the world to make, but do take comfort in the fact that you loved him with ALL of your heart and did not want him to suffer. I figure they are running free now in a world with no pain and no suffering. That is the ultimate gift we can give these extra special, wonderful angels that appear as dogs to us. I'm sending you thoughts of peace and serenity for Benson knowing that you did do the right thing to end his suffering. He will always be a part of you and will always have that huge place in your heart. Take care and know I'm thinking of you. Again, I'm so sorry for your tragic loss.
Debi on August 08, 2020:
I had to have my 5 yr old Shih tzu put down today for cancer. I am beyond devastated. I’ve cried for 3 days. He was my everything. I have 2 other Shih Tzus but benson was my everything. I am having a very bad time .
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on July 09, 2020:
I'm so sorry for your loss of your baby Bruno. I know from losing Molly at 14 years old, it was just not enough time with her. She was one of my all-time favorites. I hear everything you are saying and it is all quite normal because it is just too raw and too new. They are there in one minute and gone in an instant and it just seems unbelievable, the heartache unbearable, and everything reminds us of them. I actually thought that moving to another house/state would help me forget Griff but it did not. He was my hardest to get over and I still think of him when I touch certain things, see certain things, go certain places. He is just a part of me that will never go away. That is a blessing mostly but a curse sometimes as well.
Our hearts DO have an incredible ability to heal though so I encourage you to let your heart be open to that. No matter how you decide to honor Bruno, he will always be a part of you. I think donating or championing animals is a fabulous idea. Of course, I also believe that taking on another pet to love is a great idea. I seriously thought the past few times that I simply could never do it again. I did not want to go through the pain ever again. Then, when I decided to just 'do it' for whatever reason (the latest acquisition of Max truly I thought was for Gabby because she would have died of loneliness), I found that my heart could open up again and love another dog. I would not say that my love of Max or Gabby is the same as how I loved Griffin, but it really doesn't matter in the long run. They are happy and I saved Gabby - which is the best possible thing. I do adore Max and see a lot of my Griffin there from time to time - it is like he is winking at me or smiling and saying "I'm still here, mom, don't be sad." The laughter that they bring, just the loyalty and love - those are never bad things. They cannot replace one we have loved, but they do fill a void somehow. We just have to be willing to let them do it in their own way. I gave up early on trying to mold Max into a Griffin!!! It just was not possible. I love him for who he is and Gabby for who she is. I don't think there is much more comfort that you can get than with dogs (or pets). Especially during this COVID thing and going through lately my husband's cancer treatment, the dogs have brought me comfort in ways I never expected. I wish you every good thing, peace most of all. You loved Bruno and did the very, very best that you could by him. That being said though, I'm so very sorry for your loss because I know how painful that is. It hopefully will get better with time - but don't give up on loving again. It is possible - it is worthwhile because we give a dog someone who loves them and takes care of them and that can never be a bad thing. Sending virtual hugs to you.
Lucille on July 09, 2020:
I had a handsome canine named bruno who was with 14 years old 2 days ago. He had a tumor on his thigh and it was too late for any op to be conducted. We were forced to put down our baby who was older than my first born which felt like my eldest child was leaving for good.
A painful process indeed as we all still mourning and im finding it extremely hard . we brought him home after putting him down so we could have a place for him in our back yard were we can visit to speak to him daily. However the pain is aweful thinking he could be laying next to me and not where he is right now. Im now considering adopting from the SPCA and even help raising funds for animal shelters in his name.
But how do i get over the fear of loosing another? The heartbreak is unbearable.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 16, 2020:
That is my daughter's name! I feel so badly for you. Three days after I lost Griff I was a basket case. So was my husband. We just loved that crazy dog so much so I totally feel your pain. I think it was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life and I had had a lot of hard things to cope with. I had also had a lot of dogs that I loved and lost but truly, that 'one' heart breaker that we fall for - worth it but so very hard. I'm so sorry for your loss and just know that it will get better with time - though I will always cry when I think of Griff and losing him. I think of him at the oddest times or think how quickly it all went by - the blink of an eye really. However, the most glaring thing of all of it that jumps out at me every time I feel sad is that I was just so happy to have him. I am still happy to have had him. It was a privilege. It was the best of times for sure and I would not trade that in spite of the pain it caused when he had to leave. I think of him and hope and pray I get to meet up with him again one day. He will be SO happy and I will be over the moon! Until then, I just have to be content to remember the many, many good times and the times he comes to visit me in my dreams. I'm wishing you peace as well. Thank you again for visiting and take care of yourself. I'm so sorry you lost your little girl. She knew how much you loved her.
Katie on June 16, 2020:
Thank you so much for this story. I am going through a very similar situation and lost my baby girl 3 days ago. I just know in my heart and brain I will never get over how truly special she was. We were like soulmates - I just know no one will ever love me as much as she did and vice versa. Knowing I’m not alone in how much I love my dog, and knowing someone out there cares as much as I do, really lifted the weight a bit. I’m so sorry for your loss and I truly hope some day we’ll fine the answer to peace until we see them again.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 13, 2020:
I completely hear your pain and I don't think you ever do truly get over it. I'm all these many years out (Griff died in 2015) and I still remember how acute that pain was - as well as the pain I have every day in still missing him. Even though I have my other dogs, there is always a part of me that will treasure every moment that I had with him and wish that he was still here. I had counted on 14 years - why I have no idea - but I was just not ready to let him go - no matter how old he would have been. Thank you for doing the right thing for Marley though. That is the hardest part of all - knowing that we cannot let them suffer. I go over in my head (still) what I could have done to prevent Griff's death or his diagnosis or his suffering. There just truly is not a good answer and I know that in my head but in my heart, not so much. It will get better/a bit easier with time - although allow yourself grief. It just means that you loved him. That is what I try and remind myself of. Hugs to you and so sorry for your loss. No matter what age, what circumstance, when we love them that much, it is just the worst pain ever losing them. Take care.
Jess on June 12, 2020:
Thank you for sharing your story. I lost my Marley 8 months ago and still breakdown often over it. I loved him as much as any person in my life. I will never forget him, but I do selfishly wish the pain could go away. But I don’t see how it will; he was the most genuine love I ever felt. I wish I could find a way to celebrate his life without it breaking me down, but I’m not there yet. My heart goes out to everyone who feels this way. The only solace I can find is that he did not suffer - that was my one promise to him during his last few years and I kept it. Even so I can’t help but wonder if there was something more I could have done. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 11, 2020:
Thanks for the observation. I'm sure there is a chemical reaction for sure and many of us experience it with pets as well as our children. You have a great point as well. Most of my dogs (15 total I think thus far) have been rescues and they were all so precious. Keep up the fine work and great opinions. Be safe!
Ben on June 10, 2020:
It is actually a chemical called oxytocin that creates this strong bond between humans and dogs. It’s what creates the bond between a mother and a infant.. thanks for the article. I can identify myself with it a lot. All the best. There is so many heartbroken dogs at shelters who are waiting for someone to give them a second chance. My life mission is to rescue dogs that are least likely to be adopted.. humans created this animal and we are responsible for them..
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 28, 2020:
Thank you for your truly emotional/heartfelt relaying of losing your Cus. I totally understand what you are saying. So many feelings go through us when we lose our favorite pets. You did have him for a long, long time and that is so awesome. He truly 'saw' you and you saw him for all he was and more. He knew how much you loved him and will always be there in your heart. I do know when we cannot go and say things to them or if we do not have a physical 'marker' of where they are, it can be difficult and we wish in our hearts that we did. I think it is just so hard to grieve our losses and we want to overthink it. In reality, it always ends up the way it is supposed to end up and we have to deal with it the best ways that we can. I think you are well on your way to healing and I have a feeling that another best bud will be finding you very, very soon. I feel like when we have lost one, another one gets a message from the one we just lost to come find us and heal us. Sending you virtual hugs and wishing you healing even further. You did a great job of being there for him!
Pisces on May 28, 2020:
Past 2 weeks have this hard heavy blocked feeling in my chest can't eat much and I am very full. Now I am starting to feel pain - thought I could suppress the heartbreak thought I was doing OK when i didn't feel constant ache and pain. 2 weeks ago I went to visit my beloved Cus my 17 yrs and 3 months old) kitty. You see we became best mates he was abandoned by 3 different families in our block before I met him (so I learned) and one day I was mourning the loss of my other beloved feline soul mate of 23 yrs when this kitty came up to me while I was sitting down outside. His bold, inquisitive, wild character with a little wild streak like, "Hello (m--ee--oo--ww, I see your sad, I'm lonely too, would you like to be friends?" then took a little nip on my heel as I stroked him. I replied softly, "Hello, pleased to meet you, where did you come from then, I'm sorry, but I know you sense I am very sad right now, but I'd love to have your company, would you like to stay"? and so our friendship began. Circumstances couldn't allow me to keep him in my place so few people in the neighbourhood took turns in TLC for him. Years went past with a lot of exciting chapters in between our love bond grew stronger and stronger day by day even some neighbours after years of knowing him were not game to pick him up for a cuddle or else they would feel his teeth and claws and were amazed at how he would run to me, literally talk to me in cat tones and allow me to hug, massage and kiss him all over his body. 3 weeks ago I had been away and arrived calling and calling out for him he did not come. During the past few years his hearing wasn't as acute so sometimes he'd be slower so I called and called looking everywhere for him - no answer. I thought it was a little odd but not unusual. Then the next couple of days I called and called again - no answer. I checked his water bowl - sigh of relief as I saw it full. I thought where is he? why isn't he coming? I thought he must be eating lunch somewhere? but no, this isn't right, I feel, I sense a stillness an emptiness in the area, like...then a neighbourhood friend came out to greet me, I asked have you seen my kitty? I have some lunch-, she shook her head and said, he's gone, I said, "oh, where, is he next door"?, she said, "No, I'm sorry he's gone, you know up there". "Anxiously I replied, forcing out the possibility I was understanding her cryptic news, "What do you mean up there? where, I need to see him, I have lunch, where is he - I started to panic"? She replied; "He was very sick and had to go to the vets where we put him to sleep he had bone cancer, I'm sorry". My hands felt weak, I felt a shock of disbelief, with thoughts racing questioning my rationals, I dropped my kitty's lunch and fell to my knees cried out I don't understand, what,, why, what happened"? She came over and hugged me helping me stand as I cried asking why. She said cancer made him sick and there was nothing we could do so we put him to sleep and held his paw throughout it all..I asked where is he so I can visit him she replied the other neighbour left him at the vets. This is where I felt immense resentment and anger, the frustration at the selfishness of not bringing my beloved back to his home honouring him respect burying him in his little favourite back yard, peacefully and sacredly. Just treated his body with disrespect leaving him behind - I won't say what happens to pets here when they are left at vets it's too distressing) I felt angry and betrayed at them for not letting me know when I was calling him for 2 days. Not only did they take my kitty beloved away but I lost my last chance to say goodbye to him to hold him and whisper in his ears like I did everytime our special words. I was calling and searching on Wednesday and Friday and he was euthanized on Monday. I felt a betrayal of trust from the person who I know had him on her lounge few days before she took him to the vets he would have heard me calling him from the window in the back yard. But I know I have to forgive her for she was probably doing the best she could in her way for my beloved kitty. So I forgave her for that - but I cannot visit his resting place because he has none I feel lost and anxious about this. Like a child running here and there looking for her parent when lost. I felt deep sadness and loss and short-term pain. But the pain only lasted a few hours and I felt guilty that I didn't feel it after the tears - what happened? I was sad, angry, irritable and all that goes with it over past 2 weeks but was also confused and disappointed in myself for not feeling the pain, that I had gotten over the pain so quickly within a day! Now as I write this I understand why I have had sudden indigestion, the lump in my chest and the heavy discomfort block. t;s the pain the heartbreak I have been keeping suppressed deep within me, not allowing myself to feel as it would be too much to experience - "I simply cannot stomach this". So as I write this my realisation comes forward and to release my heartbreak pain as it is coming to surface today. I remember decades ago when my beloved 10 yr old Budgie passed away the same physical experience occurred and yes I still miss her and love her deeply eternally. I just want you to know and understand that we shouldn't expect to feel heartache immediately because sometimes we just can't take it in we can only allow the feelings to be felt when we are ready to feel them, putting it more metaphysically, when we can handle them regardless of the pain. Our soul recognises when we can learn to experience and deal with these feelings. So if you're reading this and you feel a loss as to why you're not feeling it just accept it that it's ok and you will when you can stomach the loss to occur. I hope this helps some pet parents.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 14, 2020:
I am SO sorry - that must have been extremely traumatic and devastating for everyone. I think that the best way to remember your dog is to allow yourself to cry when you need to. Everyone has to grieve in their own way. The ways that I get out of my anxiety over losing Griff might not be the same ones that work for you - but here are some suggestions. I try and remember every good moment that I had with him and that makes me smile, not cry. I try and focus on that instead of the pain I feel in losing him too soon. I look at his pictures, watch videos of him, and even have made greeting cards that I give to other people and have canvases that I had made of him to remind me how he is still part of my life and my heart. Those things make me feel better and soothe me. I also put pictures of him on my phone - on my computer - so that I see him often and can give a little nod of remembrance. Even my picture here is me holding him when he was a puppy - a very big puppy! He was sitting on my lap and I loved him/will love him forever. I hope that helps and I am so very sorry for your tragic loss. Sometimes it just takes more time for us to heal our wound over losing our dog, but especially if it was a traumatic event. Sending virtual hugs - be safe!
Ruby Ellis on May 14, 2020:
My dog got shot sadly and my family really miss her she has been gone for 8 months and I still cry when I think about her she was my best friend so it would be helpful if you could give me some examples on how to not cry when you think about her or him
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on April 25, 2020:
You are most welcome, KJ but so sorry we have to be part of that special club - losing the canine love of our life. It is so very hard. Looking back on it, I do think that it prepared me for other losses I was to endure - or at least that is what I have told myself. I hope to be together with my Griff one day again as he truly was one of a kind. I'm sure Rigby was too. Take care.
kjoneill on April 25, 2020:
Thank you. I needed some input from someone who has had that kind of relationship and loss. I appreciate that.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on April 24, 2020:
Strangely, I know exactly what you are talking about! I had Griff's leash and even though we moved to another house completely after we lost him, I hung up his leash - like he was still here. I didn't want to use the leash - I just wanted it hanging there to remind me of him forever. Then one day, I just took it off the hook and used it on Max. It became Max's leash thereafter. The funny thing is, it didn't change how I felt about Griff or about Max. I kept his dog tags, I kept his collar. I kept other things that were his, and those I've never used. They just sit in my drawer in my hutch and I see them from time to time and think of him. It is funny the things that make us think about them or worry about are we trying to replace them. I don't think that it is that at all though now that it has been some time. Seven months is still pretty raw from your loss, so I think in time, you'll feel better about it. It is just something that we associate with them and it hurts us to think of getting rid of it or using it with another pet.
I totally get what you mean too about waiting too long. I'm sure Penny will adapt - we actually brought Griffin home when Denaya was I want to say 12 or 13? I was really worried because they were malamutes but she just went huh - a new guy in town! She was wonderful with him and actually taught him to be who he needed to be. The same with Gabby - she was even older by then and I was really kind of worried about it but wanted Griff to have a younger dog to grow up with. It all worked out the way it was supposed to.
I'd almost say that you should leave Rigby's leash - just as a memory. It's okay that we remember them. We have enough room in our hearts to love a bunch of dogs - maybe not QUITE the same as that special one - but it never hurts to have a remembrance. I have gotten Max his own leash now. I don't even know why I used Griff's but I just wanted to for some reason. Maybe I was trying to get my own head around he was gone and I needed to devote more time to Max. I have no idea. His leash still hangs there to this day though. It's like he's just in the other room maybe and he will need to go for a walk someday. I probably will do the same with Gabby's - and then Max's. Or I will keep something of theirs out (though I have so many pics of them - small and large canvases - interspersed with family - I can never truly forget any of them. I do know how awful that is when you are so bound to a special dog. It does get better in time but I will always, always, always have a hole where Griffin is not there anymore. I am thankful for Gabby and Max as they make me laugh every day and make me feel the love though and am grateful for every moment I get to spend with them too. Take care, be safe - and your heart will tell you when it's time to think about another pup.
kjoneill on April 24, 2020:
Your piece resonated with me so much. If a dog can be your soulmate, Rigby was mine. My husband said that it was like we were one being. She died 7 months ago and I still can’t take her leash off its hook.
We have another dog, Penny, who is 3 years younger than Rigby (Penny is 9 1/2). She is the sweetest dog and her being with us helped tremendously after Rigby died. Like your Gabby, she mourned her sister, but she has been able to adjust and be the only dog. I feel she would do well to have a sibling, but I’m also not sure if I’m ready. I keep telling myself that we would not be replacing Rigby and that I would end up loving a new puppy, which I would. And I don’t want Penny to be too much older when we add another member to the family. But if I can’t take Rigby’s leash down, does that say I’m not ready, or am I overthinking it. I’m so torn.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on April 12, 2020:
Ah David - you cannot possibly mess up my thread! I started to cry because I know the agony of what you went through. We were hoping and praying that Griff just had a strained ligament. I could palpate all along his leg and find NOTHING. It made no sense. When they went to x-ray it, they broke his leg and that is exactly what must have happened to your Beau. The cancer was there already and had weakened the bone and from that moment on, Griffin was just in horrible pain. He was not a giant and weighed only about 90-95 but they wanted us to amputate his leg. I couldn't bear it. He said that the cancer had already most likely spread (which probably was true of Beau too in my humble opinion). It would have prolonged his life, yes - but to have him suffer even more - we both could not bear it. I am so glad I wrote this as it did help me then and continues to help me as I connect with so many people who have grieving hearts just like mine. I don't think there has been anything in my life that made such an impact on me simply because I didn't see it coming. However, it taught me many things and did prepare me for grief to come, such as losing my stepfather and then my mom a few years later, I guess. That is what I tell myself anyway. However, I would have to say that I still cry over losing him. I don't know why - he was just that special to me. He will always be with me and always be in my heart but man - I surely miss him and all the good times we had. I am so sorry for YOUR loss too - and know that with time, it can get better though I don't think the grief ever goes completely away. It seems so unfair for them to die that particular way - but then is life ever 'fair' - that is the question. We must go on and accept what we must accept I guess. Sending you virtual hugs in this time of social distancing but I do know your pain all too well. Be well and know that you did the right thing for Beau. I believe it to my bones that Griffin would not have wanted me to let him suffer and that brings me peace. I am still SO grateful for every moment I had with that special boy and I'm sure you feel the same - despite the sadness in saying that final goodbye. Take care!!
David on April 11, 2020:
First and foremost please accept my condolences for your beautiful boy Griffin, I’m so sorry to hear it.
We live in Southern Washington and have had Malamutes for straight 27 years, we’ve been married 30. I agree they’ve all been incredible friends/family but I must say your story touched me very personally. Let me explain, 3 months ago in January 2020 I was taking my best friend/son, Beau my 9+ year old Malamute, into the vet to get him a check up. We did water therapy there 1-2 times a week all ready so we knew he was trying to rehab from a torn knee ligament and know we know what else. He would never give up. As I waited in the waiting room I heard him cry so I went back there and he couldn’t get up. I was in shock. The doctor immediately gave him a pain shot and we took him immediately to an emergency vet that is an excellent and talented vet. He said if it a dislocation he’ll splint it, I was relieved but I knew in my heart something was terribly wrong. Come to find out a short 3 hours later, he had bone cancer and it broke his leg. We had to make the decision right there, they said due to his size an amputation would only prolong his situation, we had to let him go. I still cry to this very day he was my special boy a giant 150 Malamute as a gentle giant.
I also need to thank God that he directed me to your site! Just a few moments ago today as my wife of 30 years talked in the other room I began to cry because I miss him so much. I had to find another dog story to help me through and God led me here. To my utter amazement I blindly was led to you as my boy died of the exact same thing and I’ve never heard of it before.
So I want to wish you and your family a safe Healthy And Happy Easter and I only hope you know exactly how much you’ve helped me tonight. I’m still hurt as we both are but now I don’t feel all alone.
I hope I didn’t mess up your thread I just needed you to know.
Thank you again so much, for being so brave and posting what you did, I’m sure I’m not the only one this story has helped.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on February 18, 2020:
Thanks for reaching out to me. Yes, the people in our lives who do understand and help us through this are invaluable. My grandson (who probably met Griff when he was only a year old and doesn't really remember him) talks about Griff from the pictures I have of him. It is nice to keep him alive in our hearts. I love the Welsh word for hug! Take care and thanks again for sharing your kind words. I had a Mollie also - Molly, my beautiful black lab - and she will always be in my heart as well.
Sugarplum on February 17, 2020:
Hi Audrey, I wrote to you about fifteen months ago, after I lost my darling Mollie. It is still unbearable without her, my grief is still ongoing and truly debilitating. I'm so very lucky to have my wonderful husband of 43 years our sons and beautiful grandchildren. They understand what I'm going through, as I know you are going through the same after losing your beautiful boy Griffin. Hope all is well with you Audrey, we are so fortunate to have had Griffin and Mollie in our lives, kind regards and cwtches (cwtch is the Welsh word for hug) x
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 19, 2020:
I totally understand that feeling also, John. My mom felt the same way about her Ozko who lived to be 14. What a great long life you got with your little boy! I am sorry for your loss and it does reiterate the fact that some of these dogs are just too special to forget. I saw a pic today (which is unique as Griff was really 'one of a kind' in his look) of a dog that looks so much like him it took my breath away and gave me a few tears. I think remembering them is a good thing though and wishing you peace with your memories.
John Negrete on January 19, 2020:
My 16.5 yr old shih tzu passed on 2/1/16 and I still wake up and go to bed thinking about him. Yeah just a slight connection. For me, I will never get another dog as he was my guy. I know everyone says he'd want you to be happy and love another dog again, blah blah. But not for me, if I ever was married and my wife passed, I would never marry again. She was my gal and Im loyal to her and couldn't ever have someone take her place. I think it is good if others do get another dog as we all are different.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 15, 2020:
I am so sorry Viryabo. I kind of suspect that I will always cry over Griffin and some of my other 'favorites' though I have loved them all for so long. I'm so sorry for your loss and especially with 2 of them in a couple of weeks. We lost Denaya and Griffin within about 4 or 5 months of each other though Denaya was very old so it was not a 'shock' but still a terrific loss. Losing Griff was just catastrophic for us both and then to poor Gabby. I wish you peace and so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story with me.
viryabo on January 15, 2020:
I lost my loving pets, both within a couple of weeks. This was about 11 years ago. I grieve even till this day.
I’ve never had the heart to get another pet after those two. How I lost them is a long, sad story.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 15, 2020:
I'm so sorry for your loss of Peso and I totally get that! We feel guilty because we didn't see things and we didn't realize that they were sick before it was too late. That happens though even with people. I think the longer I go on without Griff, the kinder I am to myself over it all and realize that he knew how very much he meant to me and to all of us. He was robbed of a longer life for sure but what we had was magical. It sounds like you got a great life with Peso, and that is awesome. I love that he comes to visit you in your dreams, just like my Griffey. You are right though - we have to treasure what we have right in front of us when they pass from our lives so you are on the right track. Hugs to you and thanks so much for sharing. It sounds like you are channeling your grief in positive ways. That does help!
Maria Cecilia from Philippines on January 14, 2020:
My Peso died in 2016 and I am still not getting over him, my way cope was to have a bracelet locket with few of his ashes in it and wore it everyday. I am happy to see him in my dreams, sometimes along with dear departed relatives. Now my friend started a soap business, and he had one dog soap the he named after my dog, and i am managing the sales now. the feeling is always something that is hard to fathom. I also blamed myself for always in denial that my dog was not doing good. looking back at his video I realized he lost weight already. I cannot forget him he fulfilled lots of dream for me, I started my writing break and it was all because of him... I really expect to see him in my afterlife.... but what I realized when he died, I still have two other dogs that I never realized was equally cuter, and I found myself guilty because obviously Peso is my favorite. I just told them Peso is the oldest dog, that needed more attention. He was turning 16 years old when he died.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 09, 2020:
I think that is part of our process in losing our beloved pets. We always seem to jump to blame first because we are trying to reason out why things happen. I blamed myself and I blamed the first vet that I took him to who said it was a muscle pull. In reality, nothing that she could have done would have saved him - and nothing that I could have looked for would have saved Griffin's life. I know that is hard to believe and hard for us to handle, but it is the reality of disease. The only thing I can say even after this very long time of grieving for him (and I still miss him terribly) is that it was meant to be that way for some reason. I absolutely cherish and treasure every single moment I was lucky enough to have him in my life and I always will. I would go back there in a heartbeat if I could and do it all over again - even with the pain of saying goodbye. It is the hardest choice every time when we have to put them to sleep, but I do believe that it is our final way of letting them go so that they will not suffer because we want to keep them with us. I'm so sorry for your loss of Missy. It is never easy. It will get better with time, though I caution you - once you have loved a pet so dearly and so deeply, she will always, always make you miss her. That is not a bad thing - again, I would rather miss him now than to have not had him in my life for that short time. Max tries to remind me to live in the present every day but missing our pet is only natural for us if we loved them that much. Take care.
Francis Brown on January 09, 2020:
4 Weeks ago my wife a I had to put our baby Missy to sleep, it was the hardest thing we ever had to do. Still feel guilty, maybe I did not do enough before she got real sick. I blame the Vet and myself. I really miss her.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on November 08, 2019:
Oh Luba - I am so sorry! My heart breaks with you. Malchik sounds like your true soulmate for sure. I am convinced that they stay with us though and will never leave our sides. My Griffin comes back to me in dreams and I swear, every once in a while, I look at my other dogs just out of the corner of my eye and see him for a moment. It is like he is visiting me. I hope that your beloved Malchik will do the same. Please only remember (or try to) all the good things that you had with him, from him - and that he loved you with all his dog heart and soul. It is better for them (or so I keep telling myself over and over) that they are not suffering and it is the only kindness that we can do for them at that moment in their short doggie lives...it does not make it any easier to say goodbye though and the pain is like a raw wound for a long time. I do not think I have ever felt so sad and I've had some things in my life that were unbearable - or so I thought. I still miss him this 4 years later and can't help it. That is just how much we love them. It will get better for you in time but until then, please know I'm thinking of you and wishing you peace. I'm hoping and praying he will come and visit you and give you peace as well. Sending virtual hugs.
Luba on November 07, 2019:
It is help a little but I just put to sleep the most wonderful human dog. I had many dogs and each of them in my heart. The last one red mini poodle name Malchik was the best: supper warm, understand everything, he could read my moods, myself . We were always together and I don’t need anyone. I was in love, I purpose, I have Friend.He was always ready for me. We travel, we had long walks for hours, we sat in the park, we even went to the movie and supermarkets, travel by bus, trains and airplanes. He was love of my life. Finally I have a soulmate who adores me.He looked at me with such a love. I can’t describe last 2 months when first vet did not proper checking him and told me that poodels sometimes pretends.we went to different vet who Supposedly did the test for Lyme disease but delayed it for two more weeks and became brain died and I have to put him to sleep. Such a tragedy! If the doctors found it early, my dog will be alive.it is only 3 days ago. I am in pain but I cannot do anything. He was most handsome, smartest,, loving dog/person. I don’t think I had ever ever loved so openly, without pretentious anyone. He was my Malchik, my truly love.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on November 01, 2019:
I think that we all have guilt about everything we should have done for our pets or should not have done. I knew a young fellow who lost his 3-year-old dog because she got into the antifreeze. She went into renal failure and he was broken when he had to put her down. Sometimes, things just happen - we open a door and they run out or something unforeseen like getting cancer happens to a young dog like my beautiful Griffin. All I know is that you are right - they are our soulmates (some more than others even) and they forgive us - they loved us with all they had, and they would not want us to remember them with pain. I'm so very sorry for your loss but if you can, try not to blame yourself. Bobo would not want that. I believe somewhere in these tragedies, they are meant for some reason that we do not know about. It does not make it any less painful though and we always question why. Wishing you peace over his death. I have come to terms with losing Griff for whatever reason it happened, although I still cry for missing him sometimes. It is just who we are and it means that we have an open heart. You obviously have an open heart that you are still grieving. Take care and know you are not alone in your feelings. You had a wonderful run with him and I'm sure he loved you all that time and still does, wherever he is now.
Rick H. on November 01, 2019:
The story is beautiful and helped me, i lost my dog 2years ago to accidental flea drops overdose, i have a really hard time dealing with it was all my fault he died because i did not read the instructions before applying the flea killer. His name is bobo, i had him for 12 years and he was like my soul mate, my very best friend, i just miss him so much, but with Gods grace im hoping to see him again, when its my turn to go. Animals are so special and we need to help them if they need it and understand that they really do have feelings for us too. Thank you and God bless you. Rick H.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 13, 2019:
Hi Di Freeze
All dogs are wonderful - don't think that for one moment your little girl Flower was not just as special as my Griffin. Whatever dog tugs at our heart, makes us feel whole and gives us what we need - that therapy - it is priceless and unfortunately irreplaceable. That old saying about you don't know what you have until it's gone is so true....even though I DID know how much Griff meant to me from day one. It is just so hard to let go of them. I'm so sorry for your loss and thanks for sharing your story with me and everyone else. Do write about it or at least read over what you wrote - it is healing in its own way even though I still cry. I sometimes just look at the pictures on all my articles and remember those wonderful moments with him - that is a gift back to myself from him. Bless you that you have taken on dogs from a puppy mill also - nothing could be more cruel. I'm sure your dogs love you and appreciate you in ways we cannot ever know. I'm sorry for your loss as well. Just know that Flower knew how much you cared and how deep your love was for her. It is just never easy losing them because they are so innocent and should not suffer tragedy, illness or anything bad. Hope she is running free chasing Griffin around and giving him a run for his money! He was always such a fraidy cat - it was hysterical! I can picture them now!
Di Freeze on June 13, 2019:
Thank you for sharing your feelings about Griffin. How much you loved him and how special he was is so evident. My heart hurts for you. We adopted three shih tzu half-sisters nearly 8 years ago. They spent their first years in a puppy mill before being rescued. One of them, Dottie, who is 13, has had health issues for a year and a half, including being nearly blind and ear problems. My husband and I talked about what it would be like when we lost Dottie. We knew we would still have her two younger half-sisters, Candy and Flower, nearly 10 years old. And then there is Nigel, another rescued shih tzu. Nearly two weeks ago, the unthinkable happen. Flower, who we thought was the healthiest of our dogs, got very sick and died the next day. We were told it was probably congestive heart failure. My husband and I have cried and cried over this little girl who shared this journey with us over the last eight years. I know it isn’t the same. She wasn’t a “Griffin” type of dog. She never seemed to get over that two years spent in a puppy mill, and she had lots of fear. But in between fearful moments, she was a sweet, innocent, wonderful little "girl" that we grew to love. And in her own way, she was my therapy dog. Like you, we have tons of pictures and videos, although we took more in the earlier years. Also, I blogged about them when we first got them, and one day soon, I hope to be able to read what I wrote without being overwhelmed with sorrow. For now, reading about the love others have for the dogs they are having trouble getting over helps me understand that we are not alone in our grief. Thank you again for sharing about this wonderful dog.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 23, 2019:
Thank you Taha for writing - that is a very good point if it did not come through. Any loss of an animal/favorite pet is devastating. I know someone who lost her favorite goat and she really never got over it. We can't pick who we love and how - but I still think it is better to have had them to love so dearly in the first place, even though it hurts so much. Thank you for your kind remarks.
Taha on May 23, 2019:
Thank you so very much for writing this article. I have had several rescue cats as well as other domestic cats as pets and the loss of each one is unreal.
Thank you again.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 18, 2019:
Oh lord, Caroman - that is a wonderful thought about them being angels. I have often thought that myself because they do bring us so much comfort! They are so full of love and caring that I think they should be a great example to humankind. If we could but be so excited to see people, so eager to please them, and so gentle and loving - we'd be better people, eh?
I am grateful for every single dog I've had over the years. I can't imagine a life without a dog though it does make you stop and think about doing it again when you have a tragic loss. I get that thought as well - for me, it has been the healing that came with opening my heart just a little more and a little more until dang - I fell in love again. Some will mean more to me than others - Griffin can never be replaced for example - but there certainly is a lot of happiness that goes along with trusting your heart again to love another fur baby. I am grateful for that as well. Thanks so much for writing! I do not know why animals should suffer either but I have decided it just isn't my job to figure it all out - just to take each day as it comes and do the very best I can with it. Thankful I have good things in my life to make that possible.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 17, 2019:
That was so beautifully put - I totally feel your pain as it is so new still. Your words made me cry for both of us - 6 is just too young and SO NOT FAIR. I kept saying that over and over when it happened and it didn't do much good except to make me cry more. Life is so unpredictable sometimes and as you say - sometimes the more we take care of them and worry over them, the more we think we are ensuring that they will be okay. Then when they are taken from us anyway - that really bites. I remember going through my days in a fog for probably over a year because I simply could not cope with losing him. Everything reminded me of him -even places I had never BEEN with him. I think that the gaping hole that they leave behind just goes with us no matter what we do.
I am SO proud of you for taking on another dog! Some people that have suffered such a terrible, terrible loss just refuse to do it. They do not want the pain again and they never want to lose their hearts again that way. I do think another someone to love is the right answer, not only for us but for them too. There are not enough good people in the world to love all the dogs (and other pets) that are out there so we have a purpose. Little by little, Max has made me feel better - not that I ever stop missing Griffin - but he has his own quirks and things that he does now that are so funny that I kind of stop and look at him closely - Griffin - are you in there? It's probably not true but I swear every once in a while I think Griff may be channeling through Max. It makes my heart hurt a little less.
I think that losing Griff did prepare me for the grief that was ahead. I lost both my stepfather and my mom in the past 2 years and even though all the grief was different and for different reasons, it did prepare me a bit. I almost think though that it was harder losing him than them and for that, I feel a little badly. They were very old and they became very, very sick, so it was almost a blessing. I do think that it all has to do with how we lose someone (including our beloved dogs) and when we lose them. Different circumstances make it harder than others perhaps. All I know is that I will love that crazy boy until the day that I die and I feel so privileged to have had him in my life in spite of the pain on losing him. I know you feel the same way about Moose. Hugs back to you and thanks for writing such a beautiful tribute to your sweet girl. I'll be thinking about you and your new journey. He will adore you for having you in his life.
Emmakatherine on May 17, 2019:
Thank you so much for the article. I lost my sweet girl, Moose, about 3 months ago. She had been with me since she was a baby, and I was too in many ways. She was- my once in a lifetime dog. She was with me through breakups, moves, uncertainties. I thought "as long as I have moo, I'm okay." She was my person. Losing her was like losing a limb. I wasn't prepared and feel like I'm not functioning right without her.
She suddenly (as in, one day she was fine, the next was in the vet ER) was overcome by acute pancreatitis. She didn't eat anything fatty. She wasn't even close to overweight. She had a ton of allergies so we were super careful with her diet. I didn't even know this was a thing. I had never heard of it.
When we brought her into the vets I thought she had a tummy bug. We were at the vets all the time! Allergies, tummy aches, reactions to shots. Just something. I was SO paranoid. She was my lifeline.
She was sick on a Friday, and had passed by Tuesday. She was 6 years old. It wasn't fair, and it certainly didn't make sense.
I still can't believe it. I'm still not okay. I won't be for a long time, and I know that. It's a pain I wake up to everyday and go to bed with every night.
The other layer on all of this is that we had been looking to bring another dog into our lives when she was alive, and a few days ago, another frenchie basically fell into our laps. He is the sweetest boy and such a gentleman. We love him, it's just so bittersweet. I want to think of him as her little brother, and that helps a bit when I get overwhelmed with sadness.
She was so funny. Like you said of your pup. Actually funny. She also knew when to just lay with me, and when to stay close.
I truly don't expect to ever have another "her." I'll love this sweet boy and every other animal I'm blessed with that comes through my life. I just now know a new depth to life. One that I was always afraid of knowing. One I'm grateful for knowing now, and depressed to know at the same time.
She taught me how to love, and is teaching me how to grieve, and how to have a new level of empathy I didn't understand before. I will love her and miss her for the rest of my life.
Thank you for understanding this pain, though I'm so sorry you are able to. Xo
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 16, 2019:
I hear your pain and have asked myself that a bunch of times as well - over and over. Because he was only 6 - shouldn't I have had his leg amputated and tried harder to save him? You just can never second guess yourself and I've eventually learned to let myself off the 'hook' there so to speak. Who knows what further pain he would have endured had I not let him go when we did? I think it would have been even harder on him and he would have absolutely hated not being able to get around and 'live life.' I think we do the best we can and love them with all our hearts and souls - they KNOW this - they sense our pain when they have to leave us, too. I have no doubts. He has visited me a bunch of times in dreams and I'm so grateful for that! I hope you will find peace and I think you will. It just takes time - the tincture of time does heal wounds...a wound of the heart. Take care - thank you so much for writing me about your beautiful boy. Hugs back to you.
Nicola on May 16, 2019:
I’m so glad I came across your article. I lost my sweet boy over two years ago and I still find myself overwhelmed with grief sometimes. He was such a sweet, good natured and handsome boy and I miss him every day. I got him when I was 19 and he was with me through my twenties, through many house moves and relationships. I miss him so much and I can’t at this stage imagine ever getting another dog. He got cancer towards the end and I still question all the time if we did enough, did we let him suffer too long, or could he have survived longer with different medication? Did I give up on him too soon? The day we put him down still haunts me and I feel so guilty about it. Thank you for writing this article- it’s reassuring to know that other people feel this way too xx
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 10, 2019:
From your lips to God's ears.
Mark Lewis on May 10, 2019:
When we get to heaven, every pet weve ever had, will come running to us.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 08, 2019:
I'm crying along with you - what a beautiful story of your beautiful Abby and then her wonderful friend you had, Chunky. It made me giggle as Griffin was a little butterball for quite some time. It might have been a good name for him, too.
Please don't think that it is abnormal - three weeks is not a long time at all to miss someone we have grown SO very attached to. It does just break us in two - or three or four it seems when we lose that 'special' or 'extra special' one. It has something (I think) to do with our time in our own life too - maybe just as we get older we realize how finite everything is and how we are going to lose more than we gain so to speak. It is hard coming to terms with death on any level but the death of a beloved pet seems cruel and unusual punishment. I still cry over Griffin and it will be 4 years in September. I still miss him - that is not to say I don't love my Gabby and my Max and will always love them - but he was just THAT special.
Please take heart in knowing that it will get better - there just is no time table for it. I did write a book also on it because obviously I could not get over it even after writing this article! It still pains me I hate to admit - but really - it is no sin to have loved a dog that much. He made my life complete and he gave me so much. I don't think that is too much to grieve for losing and I think it is only natural that we do not want them to leave. You did the right thing though because them suffering is just NOT an option. It isn't fair to them and we as their caretakers have to do what is right - no matter how much it kills us in the process.
Sending you virtual hugs and best wishes for acceptance. It does come eventually because there is truly nothing else we could have both done. They KNEW that we loved them - that is the best thing I can say - they did not want to go - but maybe they needed to. Maybe they had a purpose - to go to someone else and help them...I don't know. If and when I meet up with Griffin, I intend to ask him - and I know he will answer me because he was way smart, too. Take care of you.
Floyd Roberts on May 07, 2019:
Every time I think of my dog I get rushes of our life together and it hits me so hard when it comes to the end memory.
When I was younger and still very troublesome. I moved away from where I grew up in the city to get away from the trouble I was getting into. I randomly got a dog. She literally became my best friend and cured all my feeling alone. Even when she wasn't allowed in that house she would sneak into my window, yes she could jump into it! And I'd let her sleep in there with me still. Nothing at all could keep us a part.
I decided to move back to my area and bring my dog with me this time. I never felt alone so I never got back into my old lifestyle. Things went great from there. I had her for about 5 years up to this point. And I really felt she saved me from a lot of things in my life.
Well my brother had a male dog...and one day they got together and we ended up with 10 puppies. Which I birthed myself! I made sure all of them went to great homes, even denying a few who seemed very unfit. Anyways, I got to a point where there was only one left. And I had a big connection with the one left. He was so chunky and a fat little fella as a puppy. And he really reminded me of his mom, my dog. A very smart thinking dog. Instead of running around crazy he would always observe everything first.
A firefighter came to get that puppy one day, and I was very upset but I had to do it. I felt like I just lost a whole lot after taking care of each and every one of them.
But he brought him back the same day and said he couldn't do it. Because the loss of his dog, he was not ready for another dog. But he mentioned it was a great little puppy. I was very happy and at that moment I decided I am going to keep this one for myself!
After that I got married and had a son also. So my dogs really became a part of all of my family's life they were my kids too. We did everything together. Its way too much to type.
About 4 years later my girl dog passed I had to put her to sleep. She was in too much pain to just keep going on. That was an extremely hard day for me. I lost the dog that basically saved me there. And I'm still not over it to this day. Her name was Abby. A blue eyed husky rottweiler mix. A very smart dog she mostly resembled the husky side. She could open the fridge, open doors swinging/sliding doors, and anything just about. I was hurt.
However, I still had her son, Chunky! So it felt like she was still here with me in a way. As I mentioned he acted like her a lot. Very smart thinker I mean he could understand when I talk I believe.
He developed anxiety of being alone so me and my wife became very very attached to help him cope even more with that. I didn't know we could get closer. He was my only friend outside of my family now. And I literally knew him since birth. Plus he was a part of Abby.
There was not a single day where I did not do something that involved my dog for 14 years. We grew such a huge bond it was amazing. Its far too much to type again.
This came to an end about 3 weeks ago, I put him down. Same situation just too much pain meds no longer working... I held him to sleep with my face on his neck crying. I didn't hurt like this with Abby. This was a new feeling I did not feel this way with my Abby. Perhaps because it still felt like she was here as well. I really broke down in there in that room that I still remember everything about. I seen his last breath in slowly faded. And it felt like my life was ending. I lost the best friend I ever had. My security of life, he made me never feel alone. I suddenly felt vulnerable and mad at everyone. They were not my dog not my real friend like he was.
Now every time I see a picture or even the slightest thought everything rushes in my head and it clashes with me very hard. I don't think I will ever get over this it feels like. Its always going to hurt. Chunky was such an amazing dog, it effected my whole family and I had to explain to my son about things...
It seems my family is a bit more moved on than me now as it was honestly my dog mainly but I can't say that because he loved them just as much. I'm still breaking down every night here. Including now. I just thought I'd write this somewhere because I don't know what to do anymore.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on April 17, 2019:
I am so sorry for your loss as well. I completely get all that you are saying. Griffin was just that extra-special canine soul that I got the pleasure to commune with. No matter who came before and who comes after, I will love them but nothing can ever replace that for me either. I think some of it has to do with the tragedy of them dying young, and of such a horrible disease - I truly do think that is what upset me the most. It seemed so 'unfair' but then life is rarely fair it seems. Take care and glad that you found the article helpful. It has helped me deal with my grief but I will always miss my big handsome bundle of fur and love! I know you will too.
Larry Jensen on April 16, 2019:
I’ve lost many dogs in my lifetime, but losing Lexie was the hardest. Cancer took her as well and way too soon. Unlike my other companions, Lexie was more than that to me. The only way I can explain it is that Lexie was my soulmate. We communicated without words, understood each other on a level above anything else I’ve experienced and she brought me a joy and peace no other animal or human ever has.
Thank you for sharing your story. It helps to know I am not alone in this feeling.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on April 14, 2019:
Hi Kona's mom
I am SO sorry for your loss and that is so new and so raw that you cannot be expected to stop crying. I honestly did not know how I was going to go on - for days or for weeks after I lost Griffin. My other dogs, I cried about and I was able to realize that it was "for the best" perhaps and just move on. I know that feeling you are talking about - I would fall asleep and wake up only to remember and start crying again.
Miraculously, somehow you will go on. It is good to get out and about - to keep the memories at bay - but I will tell you that for me, no matter where I went, it crept in. That sense of loss - a lot in part due to the fact that we took our dogs everywhere with us - so I missed him as much in the car as I missed him at home. I still miss him and that is just the way it is.
I think I finally came to the point where I knew that it was okay to grieve and grieve terribly hard - but then to do something with it. I did all the things I mentioned in my article and then went on to even write a book - I still had things to say apparently! I honestly think that losing Griff was meant to help me in some way - I recently just lost my mom and a lot of the feelings are similar. I think grieving just means that we loved them that much and that cannot be a bad thing. It is so hard to go on without them but then on the other hand, if we had not hand them, we would not be grieving like this. It is a double-edged sword but I would much rather have had him in my life than not at all if that makes sense.
Take care of yourself - try and meet with Kona in your dreams. I do that from time to time and I love that. I love being able to see Griff whole and healthy and I get to love him just a little bit longer somehow. I also get to see him in Max - and even in Gabby who was left behind. I treasure every moment I have with them and just thank God that I had Griff for as long as I had him. I'm sure you feel the same about Kona. It will get easier, I promise. Do whatever you can to remember and treasure those memories and it will begin to ease your pain. I'm again so very sorry for your very new loss - that is so hard and my heart goes out to you. Know though that Kona loved you to the moon and back as did my Griffin and they will ALWAYS be part of who we are and who we loved - and who loved us in return - no questions asked. I'll be thinking about you and wishing you peace.
Kona’s mom on April 14, 2019:
I have never posted anything before in my life but I googled “I can’t deal with my dogs death” and your site miraculously appeared.
My konie died yesterday morning and I am so afraid I’m never going to stop crying or hurting. I don’t want to be in my house and see things that remind me of her. I can’t even sit on the couch because she’s not there to try to push me off of it. I have to go back to work tomorrow and I don’t know how I’m going to do it, knowing that when I come home she won’t be there to meet me with her “zoomes”.
I’m not a crier at all really, but I can’t stop and I feel like I can’t breathe either. I don’t know what to do.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on February 23, 2019:
I'm so sorry for your loss. Unfortunately, I think you will probably feel your loss and pain for some time because when these dogs mean so much to us, it is SO hard to let go of them. I cried so hard I thought that it wasn't possible to cry any harder but then I did. It is just a measure of our love I think. It did ease after time - the tears are still there sometimes but the thing I came to realize was that I didn't want him to suffer. He was in so much pain (and it sounds like your dog was as well.) I just could not BEAR this beautiful boy of mine to suffer any longer and that was the final thing that made me decide to end his suffering. I still miss him and I still wish I had not had to ever make that decision. It was done out of love though and that is all I/we can say or do. I did write a book about it because I was still so upset even after writing this article. It has some concrete ways that I used to deal with my loss that have helped me a lot. It is on Amazon both as a book and as a Kindle. It's called Mourning the Loss of Your Favorite Dog. I think we will always miss them but that just means that we loved them to the moon and back. Take care and try and just take it a bit at a time. It will get better with time.
Jamie on February 23, 2019:
I lost my dog yestarday she had kidney failure and she couldnt walk that well i cant stop crying i just want her back how do i get over this
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 21, 2019:
Hi Anne - I'm so sorry for your loss. I would not beat myself up though I know completely that feeling all too well. No matter what we decide, we feel that we could have, should have done something more quickly, something better. I have come to realize I think in myself that it is just what it is meant to be. Someone else is deciding when our pets (our friends, our family members) are to leave this earth and it is really out of our hands. I had to finally let myself off the hook and just TRY really hard to focus on all the good that that crazy dog brought to my life. I will miss him forever and regret that he had to die that way for just as long but in reality - it was such a blessing to have him at all that I have to try and let the pain go. It is hard - but you will find that with each day/week/month - it doesn't go away - but it gets easier. Wishing you peace - remember that your Molly would not want you to feel guilt or pain - only love and remembrance. That is what we can do for ourselves I guess as well. I had a Molly too - my beautiful black Labrador. Take care and again, I am so sorry for your grief and your loss.
Anne on January 20, 2019:
Thx 4 ur post- I'm still grieving the lost of my Molly... she past away the previous Tuesday & I still cry like a baby every time I'm home alone
Red cattle dog. She was exactly like ur dog, but like u said - she was much more than words could explain... so intelligent yet so innocent
She died the same day I had our vet appointment - but it was too L8... the sorrow, guilt & regret hasn't passed yet...i should've taken her into emergency wen she was constantly throwing up the water she drank the previous day/night
Humans can b so stupid wen it comes to animals - they can't speak & we can't understand their body language
I'm just trying to distract myself which semi helps but wen I'm alone, i break down all over again. Thank u once again 4 this article - it brought me to tears with memories, because it's still fresh... don't know why Google showed this as a result wen I searched "how to stop crying over my dog"
U expressed wat I feel, yet there's so much unspoken words to describe our overall feelings/thoughts
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 19, 2019:
It is strange how we all feel, isn't it Hayley? They just made such a huge paw print that it is impossible to let them go. I miss Griff every day but I do feel so blessed to have had him in my life for those short 6 years. I'm so sorry for your loss as well - what a darling name - Harley. Let's hope that Griff and Harley found each other wherever they went and are romping free and having a wonderful time! I hope and pray it is so. Take care.
Hayley B on January 18, 2019:
Thank you so much for writing this article. I am still grieving the loss of my guy Harley, I love my other dogs dearly but reading this just took the words right out of mouth. He was my special boy that left a mark on my heart. Thank you again.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on December 27, 2018:
I'm crying for your loss as well - I'm SO sorry. I don't think there is a more horrible way to lose a dog than to an accident or trauma like that simply because I know myself - I would blame myself and think that I could have prevented it. You could not have prevented it and your family could not prevented it. I absolutely never will understand people and dogs off leash. I have big dogs myself and you would think that I would not worry - I do constantly! Mine are on leash and small dogs, big dogs come at them and there I am - caught in the middle. One bite from my big dogs and a small dog could be toast. I hate being put into that position and I think there should be stricter laws about bad pet owners that can't seem to understand the basic dog behaviors! I'm so very sorry you had to experience yet another example of poor dog handling. When something results in the death of a beloved pet, that is just too much to bear.
I felt the same way on losing Griffin - it just seemed SO unfair. He had an allergic reaction to his 1st vaccination and my breeder almost did not give him away because of it. In retrospect, I wonder if something in his immune system was already goofed up and maybe that is why he was so susceptible to cancer. I have blamed myself a million times - why didn't I see it? Why didn't I get him help? Why didn't I give him herbal supplements or try to build up his immune system?
I think that is what we do though when we love a pet that much - we just keep going back over it and over it and feel like we could change the outcome. I do think it is 'fate' or 'destiny' or something. They just were not meant to stay with us until a ripe old age. That was what I was counting on with Griffin. I bought a purebred dog for the 1st time in my life - and he only lived to be 6 years old. I could not believe the heartbreak. He was 'supposed' to live to be 10 to 14 years old - I had it planned out!
All I can say is to try and take it 1 day at a time - it does get 'easier' with time though I would be lying if I told you I do not look at Griffin's many pictures - on my computer, on my walls (along with my other dogs and photos) and on my phone and sometimes cry more tears - 3-1/2 years later. I remember every day with him and miss him terribly - even though I have mischievous Max to think about and worry about every day - and Griff's niece Gabby who is a wonderful sweet girl who brings me unending joy. It is just SO hard - there is nothing that can describe it or make the pain go away until it's ready to be eased. I did try the thought that he was needed somewhere else and that kind of persuades me to fantasize that he is not really gone - he is helping someone else with all that love and joy.
I did write my book too because obviously this article did not turn off my tears. That was my way of figuring out how to deal with the grief that seemed like it was a bottomless pit. Doing collages of him, even printing off pictures of him and making greeting cards - I've tried everything under the sun. It does get easier with time but he will always be 'top dog' in my heart and the hole he left behind a gaping canyon sometimes. I do dream about him and he is healthy and running and that makes me somehow feel better. I hated seeing him suffer even though it was a short period of time but it was just unbearable to me.
I'll be thinking of you - and again, I am so very sorry you had to lose Honey that way. That is just negligence on the part of that dog owner and I would have a terrible time dealing with that. Take care and sending you virtual hugs. We were at a restaurant once with Griff when he was a puppy - sitting outside - and a Corgi went by in the basket of someone's bike and started barking crazily at him. It was hysterical. He jumped up and starting howling at it as it whizzed by on the path by the restaurant. Everyone was laughing. I will think of Honey riding in a basket and Griffin baying at her to wait up. I can only hope and pray they are romping somewhere happy as clams.
Kristin on December 26, 2018:
Thank you for writing this. I felt the same way about my Honey, my little corgi who I knew was my soulmate from the second I saw her in the shelter. My love for her was (and is) absolutely immense, she was perfect to me in every way. She brought more joy into my life than I can describe. I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful dog.
On December 8th, a large dog attacked and killed her. My Mom, brother, and brother's girlfriend took her and our other two dogs on a quick evening walk in front of the park near our house, and one of the park's employees had his huge, aggressive dog off leash. I am thankful at the very least that I wasn't there when it happened--I don't know if I could have lived with the trauma--but the fact that it happened at all is beyond heartbreaking. I don't know how to get through losing her the way I did. I'm not suicidal, but part of me doesn't even want to live without her. I feel so lost, and it almost feels like I have two losses to deal with--the fact that she's gone so suddenly, and the traumatic way she passed.
She just had major eye surgery a few months ago and her eye was healing so beautifully, which makes the loss even more heartbreaking. Her eye injury was such a stressful and difficult ordeal, and it was a huge relief when everything turned out okay in the end. Then she was cruelly snatched away from life a few months later... I feel so broken.
I feel like my reality has shifted permanently. The world seems much more empty now that she's not in it. I don't think I've even fully accepted her death yet, it feels too big and too horrible to understand, but I cry frequently. I've been sick ever since it happened. I feel like half of my soul and will to live went with her. I wish more than anything that I could rewind time and stop that walk from happening. I am trying to believe that, if it was fate that we met, maybe this was fate, too, but it's almost too horrible to bear no matter what outlook I try to take on it.
I just wish her death could have been what I always envisioned, which was that she would live to be very old and I would sit by her side as she was put to sleep. I know euthanasia is awful in its own way, too, I have lost dogs and cats and other animals that way, too, but at least it is peaceful, and you know it's just their time to go. The death she had leaves me little space to comfort myself and feels like a nightmare. It's just not fair. She was the sweetest, most wonderful dog, who brought joy to everyone she met.
Anyway, I just wanted to vent some of my heartbreak. I don't know how I'm going to get through it in the months and years ahead. It's extremely hard to find peace with this horrible reality.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on December 03, 2018:
You are most welcome, FastLemur - will think of your new pup running and frolicking and having a WONDERFULLY long life. If only they could stay with us forever....I would of course then have 5000 dogs probably! Take care!
FastLemur on December 03, 2018:
Thank you so much! I do understand that larger dogs are more prone to some things, but I'm really in need of a friend right now hehe. And same here, of all the dogs I've had the only adult that we had to put down was a husky that was used for breeding (it wasn't us, a breeder gave her to us when they couldn't use her anymore) and the poor thing was very old and worn out and she got really bad hip dysplasia so we decided to let her go... But other than her and the two puppies, all our dogs have lived great, long lives. But I will definitely ask the breeder about family problems to try and cross those out... Also we usually never get pure breeds, we try to rescue as much as we can, but this time I said that I'm going to try a malamute because I think I'm finally getting better with doggy leadership and frustration (I used to never be able to train anything cuz I was way too soft and wavering..) and we're moving to a place with tons of space and snow so she should be happy...
Again thank you so much for the awesome articles!
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on December 02, 2018:
I would not say that long-haired malamutes are more prone to cancer or disease, but some folks argue that they are "inferior" in some ways to "regular" malamutes. At least that is what I have read. I really just do not know if that is true. I do know that any large breed dog is going to be more prone to cancers and other maladies like bloat, etc. than smaller dogs. That is just a painful fact.
I'm so sorry for your loss of the puppy - that is tragic. I actually have some experience with that as our 2 lab puppies years and years ago both had parvo and we almost lost both of them. We were actually on our way to say goodbye to one of them at the vet's and when we got there, she saw us and perked up. It was a miracle for sure that both of them survived. One of them (Mariah) got cancer (just like Griffin) when she was 6 years old and the other sister lived to be 14-1/2 years old. There is sometimes just no rhyme or reason to it but they could not have been loved more.
Back to the malamutes, I would say that you could consult with a breeder. As it turns out, there was another malamute in Griffin's line (on the father's side) that did have cancer and perhaps that was the tell sign there. I don't know. All I know is that it is a horribly painful thing to watch your young dog succumb to but then there are a lot of other things (like parvo, etc) that are just as cruel on our blessed dogs. I would always try and just get the "cleanest" dog (breeding line) you can and check it out, do your homework, but even then - nothing is for sure. It is all not up to us and in someone else's hands I guess as to who lives on into long doggie years and who does not! Sad but true. I honestly have had rescued dogs that all lived to be 16 or 17 years old. They were happy campers for sure and they came through time and time again through the craziest of illnesses and in all cases, just collapsed more or less on the day that they died and that was it. Griffin was the first purebred dog we ever owned - ironic. He was just so special though - I would have done it all over again in a heartbeat.
Take care, and again, I'm so sorry for your loss also. When I read all of you folks' stories, it always makes me cry for your losses. It also makes me feel not so alone in my inability to get over losing Griffin completely. I think we are all good support for each other. Good luck and DO get another dog. We can be as careful as we want to be, but it is sometimes just the 'luck of the draw' I have found. I do believe that somehow these dogs pick us and even if it ends in tragedy before we know it or something we never saw coming, they needed us and we needed them for those moments in time. I'll be thinking of you and getting started again with another little girl or guy. The continuity of it all and life moving on does heal even the most broken of hearts. Peace be with you.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on December 02, 2018:
Hi DivaDoodles - I am assuming that is not your name but a tribute to your beautiful Diva? I'm so very sorry for your loss. I think that is the worst thing that can happen - when they die unexpectedly and we did not "plan" on that happening. We are all hopeful when we love these dogs (or any pet really) that much. We feel like we just didn't see it coming and we could have, should have done this or that. I beat myself up pretty good for not realizing that Griffin had cancer and then how I took him to the vet and the x-raying broke his leg. He might have lasted a few more months without that. I think we can all second guess what we have done but please remember this MOST OF ALL...you loved your Diva just as much as your heart could possibly hold love - to the moon and back. That is how much I loved my Griffin. They knew that - to their dying breaths. It is just unfortunate that they had to leave us before we were ready to let go. That's about the only thing I can rationalize even 3 years later. I was just simply not prepared or willing to let him go. I wanted him to be with me forever. In truth though, he is with me forever and will always be. It doesn't help much and it is not quite the same as having him here with me to make me laugh and smile, but the only thing I can think of after it has been over and done - he is not suffering anymore. You could not see the future. You could not save Diva no matter what. I think it is the hardest thing in the world to say goodbye and then not to blame ourselves. Please don't do that. She would not want that - and I know now that Griff would not have wanted me to do that either. Honor her and remember her but do not let it break your heart - or maybe just let it break it a little bit. They say a broken heart holds more love and I guess I believe that now. I have been grieving over losing Griffin for so long that I can't believe it - but it does get easier with time. Having Max and Gabby has helped tremendously and knowing that they need me is key to my survival and has been all along. It doesn't mean that we won't miss them every day of our lives going on without them - but it will get easier in time. I totally understand your feelings of guilt and tragedy and I'm again, so sorry.We can't live in "if only" though because we can't go backward - only forward. Again, I'm so sorry for your loss of Diva. She sounds like a wonderful girl!
FastLemur on December 02, 2018:
Thank you so much for this article, even though it was hard to read since I just lost my dog last month. Totally true what you say about some dogs just being extra special. I've had 10 other dogs, and none of them compared to her, the whole family felt it. Sadly she was only 4 months old when she passed, but she took a bit of all of our hearts with her... Another puppy (a stunning Czech wolf dog) died the same week as her, so it was extra tragic. The Czech came with parvo and infected the other one as well, and despite our 24/7 treatments they didn't make it...
Also, you mention that you think Griffin might have been more disposed to cancer because of his long hair? I'm getting a malamute puppy in January if all goes well, but should I not get a long hair if that's the case? We're just so afraid of losing more pups that I'm trying to be extra careful...
Thank you so much!
Divadoodles on December 01, 2018:
I lost my 8 year old baby 3 days ago.
Yorkie baby girl Diva was from Korea and we bought our 2 yorkie babies to South Africa with us.
Diva was my heart and soul, I think I loved that dog more than anything in the entire world.
She got me through some dark times.
I spoke to her , she listened , she watched tv and growled and barked at it, she yelled at me for snacks, showed me her nails and did high five .
Beginning of the year she was diagnosed with CHF.
Went on usual meds and was ok.
Last few months her breathing was off , went to a new vet on a Sunday who took her on.
She then suddenly got pyometra and had to have an emergency spay and recovered like a trooper .
All was well for a few weeks and then her breathing went off again.
Back and forth we went to the vet and he then decided to do ultrasound and diagnostics, she was distended by then short of breath and uncomfortable .
Took 2 days for sedation from ultrasound to wear off.
Finally got results pointing to cardiac insufficiency leading to liver enlargement.
Vet adjusted meds and added liver support.
Came home that night and she got diarrhea .
By next morning it was bloody diarrhea , I asked vet about starting her on metronidazole which I had and he said go again.
Went out came back and stool was watery with blood. Messaged vet and asked what to do as I didn’t want her to dehydrate.
No response .
I tried stringing glucose water into her mouth . Went out again and my son mashed me saying he thought she needed to go on a drip. Came back to check and was going to go back to the vet at 5. I picked her up , she looked at me took one last breath and was gone.
I’m devastated as I feel I could have saved her had she gone on a drip to replace fluids.
Day before hubby asked vet if she was going to die and he said def not.
Now he says it was liver failure. I don’t believe it, and now she’s gone and I’m grief stricken as well as guilt stricken as I’ve been to the vet every other day but when I should have been there urgently I didn’t get there in time.
I don’t know how I am going to carry on.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on November 17, 2018:
I'm sorry for your loss, too, Debbie - ah yes - the walks!!! Griffin was so good at those - we called him Sir Prance-a-Lot - he just had a way about him that said I love life and I'm out here just prancing to the beat of my own happy drum. His name was Mr. Moonlight (kennel name) and he certainly made you smile as he strutted along. It is good to remember our favorite moments with them, for sure. Thanks for stopping by, Debbie. Hugs to you. Never easy saying goodbye.
Debbie on November 16, 2018:
It’s horrible losing a pet. I lost my berty last dec and not over him . I’m so sorry for your loss. We think of the fun times we had and their favourite things and walks .
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on November 12, 2018:
I'm sorry for your loss as well. It is never, never long enough. I grieve my Griffey every day and can't believe it was such a short time that he was with me. I had been hoping it would be longer, as I have mentioned a lot of times. However, if I had had him even longer, the pain probably would have been even worse at losing him. I truly hope and pray that they are all running somewhere happy and free from stress or pain and we will get to reunite with them one day. Take care and know that I do understand completely.
Hayden on November 12, 2018:
I am sorry for your loss.
I lost my Reginald Jack Sausage 30 Sept 17 so its nearly a year and today is one of those challenging bad days.
He was 9 months at adoption and I said goodbye after having him just over 15 and a half years.
I cannot comprehend he has gone.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on November 05, 2018:
I'm so sorry for your loss, too, luvs2dance. I know it was so hard to lose Griff after only 6 short years but now I wonder how hard it would have been after 15. I don't think I would have ever been able to endure it no matter what the time frame - it is all just a horrible loss for us when we love them that much. I'm so glad Indiana was a part of your life, too - it sounds like he had a wonderful time, just as Griffin did. People just used to flock to him no matter where we took him so I'm glad for all that pampering he got from the world "at large' as well as his family and friends. These special ones will live with us forever in our heart, but I know what you mean - saying goodbye is the worst part. When they broke Griff's leg with the x-ray it just wasn't tolerable to either one of us to see him in that much pain. I am grateful though for the days leading up to all that where I got to just spend time with him. I'm glad you got that chance as well. Take care, and again, I'm so sorry for your recent loss. I'm hoping Indiana is frolicking with my Griffey and having a wonderful time where there is no cancer and no more pain. Bless them all.
luvs2dance on November 05, 2018:
Wow. Thank you so much for posting this story. We lost our standard schnauzer of almost 15 years just a few weeks ago. Like Griffin, for us, Indiana was special - he truly was our Indiana Jones...always up for whatever crazy adventure we worked up for him. We travelled with our dogs too - Indiana had travelled from Canada to Florida 4 times! We were halfway done another one of those drives when we discovered a large cancerous mass in his chest. We had no idea it was there. They told us we had 1 week, so we turned around and came home. We got 9 beautiful days to say goodbye before his suffering became too great. I think about him every day. I'm so grateful to have had him in my life and will always cherish all the joy he brought me, but it has been very difficult to say goodbye.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on November 01, 2018:
You too, Ken. Take care and keep an eye out for someone who is out there just waiting for you. I know it will happen when the time is right. I'm so sorry for Blackie as well. Every time I have lost a dog, I say never again. Somehow they just grab us with their paws around our heart and will not let go. I just know though there will be someone "like" Sam that will come to visit you and it will help - not completely ever heal it - but it will help. Max makes me laugh every day and Gabby just shakes her head at him. It is good to smile when you thought you never could again. Will be thinking of you!
Ken Suter on November 01, 2018:
Dear Audrey, Thank you so very much for posting my story and responding to me. I have purchased your book, and I will have a box of tissues nearby when I read it. I am so glad you have Max to help you with your loss, I have 2 dogs, Blackie, a lab who came as a stray six months after we got Sam, and Katie, a Beagle that I rescued from the neighbor's six years ago, she was emaciated badly and neglected, I called the same humane society I got Sam from and they are two sweet dogs. But they always took a back seat to Sam, he too talked constantly and controlled us and the entire house. I called him King Brown Crap and he knew his nickname well! He loved every person and animal he ever met, and he especially loved cats. He loved going to the Veterinarians ironically, he would try to make friends with all the cats. He was like having a four year old toddler his whole life, I talked to him constantly and he was highly intelligent, more human I think than dog. Unfortunately, I will be dealing with losing Blackie in the near future, he has an aggressive cancer. I am trying to give Blackie as much love as I can, but he's not a cuddler like Sam, and Sam is stealing the spotlight in my heart even after his death. I look forward to reading your book, reading it and talking to you will certainly help me immensely in dealing with my grief. Thanks again and I wish you only the best
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on November 01, 2018:
Oh Ken - that is so sad - it definitely has me crying trying to type this reply! I so hope that Griff has met up with Sam and that they are frolicking and swapping parent stories!!! I know they will be great ones. I have no doubt that Sam picked you - just like my Griffin picked me to love with all his heart and soul. He loved other people - he was a people magnet - but there was just that special thing between us that was so hard to lose. I totally understand your grief especially when something happens so suddenly. When you just do not expect it or "see it coming" I think it is 5 times harder to accept or get over. I am glad you have come to the conclusion that another dog is out there - he or she truly is - and he or she will find you and love you. I know Max is not the exact same as my Griffey but surprisingly, he knows just what to "say" to me every day to make me grateful for him and for Gabby. He comes bursting into my office - he is not a smooth talker/smooth walker like Griffin was - and is full of zest and energy all the time! He will just trot up to me, put his head on my knee and look at me and start talking. I know he is telling me things like - be happy today - I love you - Griffin loved you - have a nice day, mom!!! He will greet me at night when I come downstairs after a long day of working and start chattering at me again - and then come and lay right beside me. He is my husband's dog "mostly" but he is so sweet to me -it is amazing. I feel like maybe Griff is in there somewhere trying to soothe me still and make me know all is okay. It is still painful to think about - after 3 years! I am amazed that a heart can hurt for that long but it was a deep affection for sure I felt for that beautiful boy - I totally understand your grief over Sam. I ended up writing a book because obviously this article did not "end" my grief but think it all is therapeutic - whatever we need to do to express that sadness we feel is okay. Please take care of you - and I will be imaging another dog "finding you" because he or she will... When the time is right, you will find a dog again and I would almost bet that you will all of a sudden look at him or her and catch a gleam in his or her eye and wonder just for a minute if you are looking at Sam. I've felt that several times with Max and it has given me peace. Wishing you that most of all. I know we cannot change what happened and it must have happened for "some reason" though it escapes me altogether, but we will survive and our pups would have wanted that most of all for us. Thanks for sharing your story about Sam and I am so very sorry for your loss also. May they both be happy today wherever they are and I hope and pray one day I get to see my boy again and you yours!
Ken Suter on October 31, 2018:
Dear Audrey, As I started my day this morning, I told myself that this was going to be a better day, as I haven't seen really any good days in nearly a year. And then I read your story about your amazing Griffin. And I cried. I cried for you and the immense pain you have been suffering through, and I cried for me, because I lost my adopted four legged son Sam 11 months ago. Nearly every word of your story was mine, as if you were able to somehow get into my mind and tell my story. The only real difference in our losses was the breed of dogs, Sam was a Schnauzer Terrier mix. What I really was amazed at was when you talked about Griffin's eyes. That was Sam. He had the same eyes. When I first met him, at the mall, the humane society was trying to adopt out seven puppies, I had no intention of getting one, even though I had several dogs growing up, but as I stood there with my wife watching the group, one dog in particular was sitting quietly to the side. I kept looking at him from a distance, and he stared at me the whole time, and then he walked up to me and, those eyes, I couldn't believe how his eyes latched on to me like a magnet. He then turned around and laid on my foot, and the humane officers all ran over to me, saying that he picked me, I must take him. I got uncomfortable and told my wife that we must go, and I pulled my foot out from under him, and he let out a signature groan/moan as I walked away. We went about 20 feet, my wife said "will you stop and look at that dog?" I did, and those eyes, they pierced my heart like a laser, as he stood looking like he was going to cry. I said "we'll take him!"That was the single best thing I ever did in my life. For just over 11 years, I had the honor of being his Dad, I had a bond with him that I don't think I have ever had with any human, including my wife, if that is possible. I literally worshipped the ground this sweet, gentle, highly intelligent dog walked on, I considered waking up to him every day as essential as breathing oxygen. Never did that dog ever lick me, but he certainly kissed me a million times with his eyes, and he engraved his being into my heart that will be there forever. And then the worst day of my life came when his full of energy body jumped into the air, excited about going for a walk, when he landed on his feet, he screamed for what seemed like an eternity, I looked at him in horror, he stood motionless for about 5 seconds, and fell over on his side. That was the last sounds he would ever make. He obviously paralyzed himself, and in less than a half hour at the vet's my precious jewel died. How? How did I not know he had a spine problem? I had my hands on this beautiful boy a hundred times a day! I know how your Griffin passed away has created a lot of guilt for you, but you did the right thing, there was no miracle that could help him. The suddenness of losing Sam has devastated me, to the point of going into a state of immense depression for nearly a year. I call it emotional torture. A few days ago, I told myself that I have two choices, one, I can commit suicide and be with him hopefully, but I certainly don't have the guts to do that, or I can pick myself up and live, and that is exactly what I plan on doing, because Sam would want me to, he loved every minute of his life. Some day, another dog will find me, and need me as much as I need it. And if it is a quarter of the dog my Sam was, and obviously your Griffin, I will have hit the jackpot again. My heart truly aches for you, I will forever think of you and your loss when I think of Sam.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on October 31, 2018:
Thanks, Sugarplum - wishing you peace. It will eventually come. You will always miss your sweet princess though and I'm there with you. Take care! Thank you for YOUR kind words. It is good to know we have friends out there who understand.
Sugerplum on October 30, 2018:
Dear Audrey, many thanks for your kind words, when I read about your heartbreaking experience with your beautiful boy Griffin I was in tears, he was so young and in his prime, grief is a lonely place. When I wrote to you I could hardly see for crying. It felt like someone understood how I felt day to day without her. I wear a locket with a photo of her looking like a little princess, that does give me comfort, I know it will get easier, as time passes, I'm so grateful Mollie was in my life, as you were with your sweet Griff. Many thanks you are truly kind, virtual hugs to you, and all who those are missing their cherished doggy friends x
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on October 30, 2018:
How heartbreaking and I'm so sorry for your loss also. A dog living 16 years seems like a lot but it is never enough to tell the truth. I had a Molly - though different spelling - and she was my first heartbreak for special dogs. She lived to be 14-1/2 years old after having grade IV hip dysplasia and having a hip replacement and then a hip nailing on the other side. It was still not long enough so I know your sorrow. I'm sorry she was in so much pain and know the agony of watching that in your sweet baby. It does not seem right and know you did the right thing to ease her suffering, though it caused your own. That is just the hardest thing of all - making that decision to end their life. However, I think in all fairness to them, it is the right thing to do as they do not deserve pain after they have given us their hearts and souls. I'm so sorry again for your loss and for your family's loss. Do know that she loved you to the moon and back - there is no doubt. She knew you needed her when you did and she was there for you - and you were there for her in the end. Take care and know that she will always know your love - and you will always have hers to carry in your heart. It does get easier with time - though some of them - we simply can never, ever forget, no matter how we lose them or when we lose them. I think that is a gift - despite the pain it causes us for their loss. Virtual hugs to you.
Sugarplum on October 29, 2018:
Hi, I've just read your wonderful article about your gorgeous boy. We lost our darling Mollie a few months ago aged 16, see was more than a dog to me, she was my best friend and companion, truly beautiful inside and out. She never left my side when I was very ill 5 years ago, her beautiful brown eyes and feeling her warm weight led on the bed next to helped my recovery. I was able to do the same for her in return, arthritis has taken its toll on her little body, she was on so many pain meds, but she also developed dementia which was heartbreaking to watch. I would sit up with her all night so she wasn't afraid to be left alone, my sweet beautiful little girl was in so much pain at the end we took the the decision to part with her. Our vet was so kind he made her comfortable so we could say our goodbyes. My heart was broken. In the months that have followed I'm finding it very hard not to see her everyday, feel her soft but wirey coat run through my fingers. She is greatly missed by all of our family who love her as she loved them.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on October 11, 2018:
I'm so sorry for your loss, too, Andrea. That is sad. I know sometimes it seems unfair that we can't be with them when they die. I had that happen also with a border collie who was aggressive toward our other 3 dogs. We had to give her away to preserve some kind of sanity in the house. She had a good life but we were never with her when she died and I felt badly about that. She was such a fierce dog. They do know we love them I think though and we will always carry them in our hearts. Don't feel too guilty over it - unfortunately that is easier said than done. They just are not with us long enough - ever. Take care.
Andrea Mazurek on October 11, 2018:
Thank You so much for this. I had to rehome my dog because he was agressive only to my husband. Then he became agressive to others and recently he attacked his new owners and they put him down and called after. I feel really guilty because I had him since a puppy and I would of been there with him. Although I guess he wasn't my dog anymore. To me he was and I feel like I let him down. But thank you for your story.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 21, 2018:
Oh Juan, truly your pain makes me cry as well. I know most of what that feels like and I'm so sorry for Ziggy and for your loss as well. I do know though just with the experience with Griffin, it is NOT our faults. There is nothing we can do to save them, bless them to the bottom of their furry hearts. We loved them and they loved us way beyond what we could even imagine. They would forgive us anything. It was not intentional - it was just one of those stupid quirks of medical science I think. I had a lab who was 14-1/2 years old who died of that same twist of the stomach. I was heart broken as well because I felt that if I hadn't taken her to the kennel (she would get so nervous) that it never would have happened. We were too far away to get home in time to be with her when they had to put her to sleep and that took me a long time to forgive myself for. However, I did come to the conclusion that it couldn't have been prevented - it was sad, sad, sad and broke my heart as it happened right before Christmas - what an awful gift that was! Yet, I think she left because she wanted me to get Denaya - our first rescued malamute - that is what I told myself anyway. Here was a dog that was going to be put to sleep from starvation at only 1 year old and no one wanted her because she had too many issues. We had her until she was 16 or 17 years old and died right before Griffin. I always feel that these things (as HORRIBLE as they are and how they break us) are meant for some reason. All I can say is try and think of Ziggy running free and free of pain, which is most important. He is young again - and he is meeting up with Griff and saying - hey - your mom wrote a story about you - and my dad wrote a story about me. Isn't that the coolest thing ever? They LOVED us man - with all their hearts and even though they miss us - we are still in their hearts. How cool is that, dude? (I used to always call Griffin 'dude' - too funny I just thought of that). It illustrates though that they are ALWAYS with us - they will never go away. The pain gets better just with time...she says wiping her tears. It truly does. Maxwell has helped us redirect some of our grief into making him into someone Griff would have adored also. I think that is what has saved me anyway. He cannot replace my beautiful boy - but he is a wonderful distraction and another dog to love. I'm hoping Ziggy sends you someone to love and maybe that will help Zoe as well. It saved Gabby's life to be honest. Take care - virtual hugs and will think of Ziggy bounding over bushes and rolling in delight in a heavenly meadow - it just has to be so! They deserve all that and more. You might be surprised to 'see him' in some other dog along the way also - just winking back at you - hey dad - here I am! I catch a glimpse just every now and again from Max of Griffey stopping in to say hi.
Juan Tremillo on September 20, 2018:
We lost our half Chow half Shepard, Ziggy 2 weeks ago, sep 7. Our beautiful spoiled boy was 14 1/2 years old. He would've been 15 in December. I continue to live the day in my head where I could have told the vet and my wife NO to the new meds they were going to give him. He was in pain for arthritis all over his body, he could barely walk, but overall he was still getting up to eat lightly, wanting to continue to come to bed with us, wanting to finish his walks even though he could not walk much, but we let him rest at every driveway. I had a bad feeling about the meds, but I was just wanting for my wife to ease her mind that I was in this to help him too because I loved him so much. Ive always hated to watch Ziggy go under for sedation for any type of procedure, so when the vet recommended a small dose of morphine like med to help ease the arthritis so we could get im to eat again, it sent an alarm to me, but again, I trusted the vet and wanted for my wife to have this, to make Ziggy feel better. 2 hours later, he was choking on his phlem, couldn't breath. Vet didn't know why that happened, believed that the meds caused his intestines to twist, or whatever. I tried yo help him breath and relax by rocking him back and forth on my lap and arms. he finally relaxed and started breathing normally, but then he got too relaxed and silently fell asleep. i felt his breathing go lighter then my wife said he stopped breathing, i said he was just sleeping and then meds were finally relaxing him. But no, he was dying in my arms, i moved him to his mattress and tried to help him breath, but he had passed on. I have never experienced this type of pain before, other than my fathers passing. I constantly replay his trust in me when i took him to the vet, that dad would not let anything happen to him. The look in his eyes that he always trusted me, that he wanted me to just take him home. I feel so guilty for allowing the new meds when i could have told my wife and vet to just leave him, i know he's old, but he's happy with us. I miss him everyday, and it does not go away. I just recently allowed myself to smile for a brief moment. what is even harder is watching our other dog, Zoe, who was his partner for 12 1/2 years, miss him too. When he passed, she knew it, she layed next to him for a while, before we asked the vet to pick him up to have him cremated and have the ashes back to us. Me and my wife have approached this differently. She wants to remember the good, but I am constantly stuck on the day he passed. It hurts so much because he was my roaddog, my sleep pillow, he slept at feet or had to be touching my leg for 14 1/2 years. He would ride with me in my truck and was always the navigator by standing on the console. I believe he was like a child to us, but he was also my therapy dog because he always made me so happy no matter how bad of a day i had. always forced me to walk him. Its left such a hole in my life and in my heart. I just hope that this pain gets a little less, but I feel so guilty in trying to move on. I cant or dont want to move on, because i felt i could have saved him and given him a few more months or another year. I just hope if he is in dog heaven, that he forgives me for what happened, because I know I will never forgive myself for not fighting for him.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 17, 2018:
Oh Liz - I'm so sorry for your loss of Gomez. That is so difficult when something like that happens and we always, always blame ourselves. I knew a young fellow in Oregon who had a 3-year-old rottweiler and somehow she got into the antifreeze. I don't think I've ever seen anyone cry harder or longer. I felt SO bad for him. It isn't our fault, truly it isn't. Things just happen sometimes. I have to believe that our beautiful therapy dogs are meant to be somewhere else and maybe Gomez was needed for someone right then. There just has to be an explanation as to why we have to lose our (as you said almost like a person) dogs who are just giving us everything we need. We are upset (nauseated, can't get out of bed, depressed, tearful for hours on end) because we are going through a horrible poisoning ourselves of our heart. We can't accept the reality of them being gone and I think that is quite normal - especially given the short time that you've been dealing with this and the circumstance. I felt terrible because we had been on vacation with Griffin - and I should have taken him to a vet there - I should have done this - I should have noticed that he had cancer. We can't beat ourselves up for any of this. It is just what it is unfortunately - a tragic, tragic loss. It takes a long while to get over and I can attest to that. Know that I'm thinking of you and wishing you peace of mind. We can't always block the bad things that can happen and that's a sad reality to face sometimes. However, do know - Gomez loved you to the moon and back - he would not want you to grieve but you will. I never have any doubts that my Griffin had a wonderful life and that he loved us all heart and soul. That is comforting even through the loss. I'm so sorry for you all. Sending you virtual hugs as well. We'll think of Gomez finding Griffin and rolling in the grass and howling up a storm. They will be waiting for us on the other side.
Liz on September 17, 2018:
I lost my sweet boy Gomez this past Friday. We just got back from a three week vacation and the boys that were watching him said he wasn’t eating much. He was very skinny but otherwise seemed okay. We were jet-lagged but I knew something wasn’t right and waited a couple days before I brought him to the vet. He had injested poison somehow which is odd because he isn’t interested in dead mice, trash, etc. He died a few hours later. The guilt is literally paralyzing me and I am constantly nauseated. This article comforts me somehow because Gomez was so special, crazy and one of a kind and just to know that someone has gone through this too brings some peace. He was almost like a person and was always by my side. He was my therapy dog, too and I am heartbroken. It will be hard but I really pray I can forgive myself and move forward soon. Thank you for writing this- it will help and has helped me already. Peace, Liz
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 14, 2018:
After doing the math - it is actually 1109 days since I've seen our beloved Griffin. It feels like at least 1500 days. The point is - no matter how long they are gone - it aches like a hole in your heart. Math has never been my strongest suit!
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 14, 2018:
Ah Charlie - you said it quite beautifully and eloquently. They are the sum total of all the dogs that we have loved these special ones that set themselves apart. My daughter always said that I loved all my dogs equally but she would be incorrect there. There are just some that put a print on you that is unexplained and quite remarkable. Griffin was that supreme one. There were others before him but no one has broken my heart quite like my little boy leaving me behind. However, as you say - they come back at us in the strangest ways - that is my theory anyway and I'm sticking with it!
What a beautiful name - Willow! Did she really live to be 23?? Oh my - I'm so jealous! I actually have been so blessed with those that lived to be 15-17 so I think that is why I was so upset that I should lose not 1 dog but 2 of them at age 6 to cancer. That seems unfair - but hey - life is rarely fair. It is meant for some reason I suppose and I like to think Griff was needed somewhere else.
I will think of Willow too finding Griffin and running like mad through the meadows though Griff will probably stop to take a lie-about if I know him! He was such a sweet, sweet dog - but aren't they all? They love us madly and it is very, very hard not to love them in kind the same way.
Max has stolen a bit of my heart as well. I see those Griffin 'moments' in Max and it does warm my heart. I do not understand how such broken hearts can live and breathe again as it seems like the whole world has ended when you have such a loss - and that a broken heart can't open up and love something or someone again - but it is quite so. Griff (and Willow) would want it that way.
Have fun with your lovely bundle of fur and love - they are just remarkable creatures that they make us feel so complete. I am sorry for your loss as well, just a few months after Griffin died. I can't believe that I have been without my beautiful boy for 1500+ days. I did not think I would make it past 1 day. It is truly the hardest thing we have to do for them but unfortunately what we must do when they are suffering.
Hugs to you.
Charlie on September 14, 2018:
Like you I have had many dogs and they have all been special and I have loved each and every single one but some have somehow shined brighter.
I lost my beautiful dog of 23 year old fog willow on November the 5th 2015 a date thats burned into my head for all the wrong reasons. It is also my late fathers birthday and was the same day as a friends funeral. To make matters worse its a big deal in the uk as its when we celebrate bonfire/guy fawkes night by setting off a lot of fireworks, so its hard to forget.
Beautiful Willow had cancer she had had tumours removed from her mouth but they had regrown and further treatment options were cruel especially at her age, so we managed to keep her as pain free as possible and she was happy for several months, then one day she stopped eating, i think she was telling us it was time. We made the unenviable choice to put her to sleep and it broke my heart. I cry about her regularly and I miss her so very much.
I remember her in so many ways and try to smile last year i made my wedding invites from a book she had chewed that id put in a draw and forgotten about, when i found it i decided it would be a nice way to invlude her.
I thought no dog could fill her space and they can't but at the time my partner worked away a lot and working from home like i do was lonely so we ended up Bringing Rogal home. He is half Mallamute half labrador and he has taken a whole new part of my heart. He is just the right ammount of dog and human and absoloutley my therapy dog, he knows me better than I know myself. He is just a giant hairy bundle of love and I want his attention just as much as he wants mine. I sometimes think he has the souls of all the dogs I've loved before in his heart. He is my world.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 12, 2018:
What a wonderful story about Abbey and I'm so sorry for your loss as well. I think that Griffin wanted to be a chihuahua actually - he was afraid of his own shadow sometimes. He was definitely the most comical dog I have ever owned. The stories - we both have them don't we?
Please do not beat yourself up over her passing though. It is just one of those things that we can't control - any more than I could control poor Griff getting cancer. We can't pick the time or the place I guess is the lesson there. No matter how they die though, we will probably always wonder what if - could I have done this or that "better" - and in all truth, there is nothing we could have done better. They loved us exactly how we were/are and they will always love us - no matter where they are. I don't think there is any easy way to lose your favorite dog or your best friend that is for sure. I will always miss him no matter how many dogs I had before or have after him. I know that you will feel the same way. I guess that just means that they were extra, extra special. They must have felt that love from the tip of their nose to the end of their tail. They gave it back in spades. Sending you virtual hugs and thanks for telling me about Abbey - I know she is with Griff and they are whole and hearty, just waiting for a day when they can greet us with all that love. Abbey will always know you treasured her, just as my Griffin will. Again, I'm so sorry for your loss, too. It is good to know that other people loved their pets as much as I did. Take care.
Elena on September 11, 2018:
Your beloved Griffin was gorgeous and yes apparently incredible in so many ways!!! So sorry for your loss and sorry Griffin was only 6 years old. It sounds like Griffin packed in 26 years of living and loving , in his 6 years! I lost my Chihuahua, Abbey, in May. She was 12 and it happened over a day & a half- she had an embolism or aneurysm of the heart. I didn’t have time to say goodbye, and came home from work, and she was gone. I threw myself on her tiny body (so opposite of Griffin’s 95 pound size!) - and sobbed inconsolably for 20 minutes over her body. Then I called my vet and he said to bring her over there and they would “help me with the body.” They kept saying how sorry they were and were so nice and kind to me, but I’m not sure if I heard all of their words- I was blind with tears and felt as though I could not hear clearly either. I had her cremated. I kept thinking is this my fault? Did I miss something? Not see something? And I was so guilty that she died alone in the apartment because she was always by my side. Had and still have such a hard time with that. My sister had 2 beautiful canvasses made from pictures of her and on one canvass, I wrote a poem to her, that is beautifully printed on the canvas. And of course I have videos as well. It was 4 months ago, and I cry every day thinking of her. I know I will still cry in 4 years from now, snd 14 years from now. She’s was the only dog I had, as a single/divorced woman , living on my own. I think it’s awesome that you have so many dogs of this beautiful breed such a wonderful home!! But like you said, I also laugh at how silly and funny, and fiesty she was. And yes, she too comes to me in my dreams. I have to tell you that I read MANY posts on the loss of a dog, but yours was the most profound and comforting to me. So glad I came across it. Griffin sure was absolutely gorgeous and incredibly special. We have to take comfort in knowing that Griffin and Abbey are in a much more beautuful place and are whole again! And we will one day be with them AGAIN, for certain! God bless you and thanks SO much for sharing that!!
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 06, 2018:
Oh gosh, John - thanks for writing to me about Mitzi. She sounds like a Griffin spirit as well. I have to believe that they are romping together and are fast friends. It is so hard at first. I remember every day the first thing I woke up and remembered for a very, very long time was that Griffin was gone and I didn't want to get up and move on at all. I cried and cried - everything made me cry. Just reading about Mitzi and your loss made me cry. Three years September 1st for me, and I still cry over missing him. I have Gabby and I have Max, but no one animal can replace that crazy dog and how I felt about him. I totally understand too that you grieve more than over a person because our dogs that we love - they are selfless. There is no end to the love they have for us and it totally shows. Take care and I'm so sorry for your recent loss. It does get better with time. My writing about it helped - first this article and then finally the book I wrote as well about it - that I cried through every page on. I think it is therapeutic though so that is good. Remembering them is therapeutic, even though it hurts. Every once in a while I go to talk about him and find myself starting to cry and I feel a little embarrassed but then I think no - he was THAT special. I won't be sad that it still hurts or feel silly because I still feel the pain of losing him. Virtual hugs to you as well. Visions of them tearing through the fields makes me smile. They will never be forgotten.
Jon on September 06, 2018:
I am at the same place as you. I know exactly how you feel and hope you can find some peace inside one day. We never get over them, we just learn how to deal with their absence.
I lost my soul mate and second dearest friend “Mitzi” 3 weeks ago who I love second to only my wife Linda, who is my 1st dearest friend and soul mate.
I don’t know if I will ever heal from Mitzi’s passing. I cry every day, several times a day because she touched my soul and stole a piece my heart that can not be replaced. I hope to see her again one day ( Rainbow Bridge)because she was more human than 99% of most people I meet.
She showed me love every day and followed me around everywhere. I couldn’t turn around without finding her at my side, until now, and wo7ld make me smileShe is gone physically but not spiritually in my mind and heart.
I miss her more than family members who have passed on and I am not ashamed to admit that because no one EVER gave me as much love as Mitzi Girl my “Sweet BaBoo”, for all you Charlie Brown fans you know what I mean.
Please note this is a correction to my previous post
John on September 05, 2018:
Audrey, Griff is running freely and pain free with other dogs waiting for you on the other side of Rainbow Bridge and one day he and you will join together and cross that bridge to get enter Rainbow Heaven. We will one day all be with our pets forever. I can’t wait to hug and kiss my Mitzi Girl again one day.
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 01, 2018:
Hi Asya - I think that is something you will have to decide for yourself and then maybe speak with a vet and/or a trainer or a breeder. Just try and make sure that the pup is healthy for sure because I don't want you to have to go through another loss. There are just no guarantees though and all we can do is our very best. I do always think that it helps to get another dog but then I also believe sometimes we have to heal a bit first. In the meantime, you can always talk to professionals and/or even join a pet support group. They have them in real life and also online and that can be calming and reassuring also. I think you will know if you are supposed to get one and when. It has always worked that way for me.
Asya111 on September 01, 2018:
And I wish the same for you too. Do you think I should get another puppy after a few months?
Asya111 on September 01, 2018:
Thank you so much. A virtual hug for you
Surviving pets may whimper, refuse to eat or drink, and suffer lethargy, especially if they had a close bond with the deceased pet. Even if they were not the best of friends, the changing circumstances and your emotional state may distress them. (However, if your remaining pets continue to act out of sorts, there could actually be a medical problem that requires your veterinarian's attention.)
Give surviving pets lots of TLC and try to maintain a normal routine. It's good for them and for you.
Grieving the Loss of a Pet
When a parent, spouse, child or someone close to us dies, our loss is usually met with sympathy, comfort, and offerings of sincere condolence. We are allowed to grieve. We are allowed to cry. We are allowed to experience our emotions.
But talk to the millions of pet owners who have had a dog hit by a car or a terminally ill cat euthanized and you will hear quite a different story. Many will tell you that most people did not understand the depth of their grief. Some even experienced the gross insensitivity of a comment like, “Why don’t you just get another pet?”
Mourning a pet may not only be painful because of the loss itself, but deeper due to the potential loneliness of this type of grieving.
Why Are the Feelings So Painful?
When we are grieving the loss of a beloved pet, we are actually mourning several losses at the same time. These include:
- The loss of unconditional love: Our pets provide us with emotional responses that are uninhibited by concern for how their expression appears to others. Many of our human relationships aren’t that simple they can be riddled with anxiety about rejection and other fears that often dictate how we behave and what we share. Our pets do not judge insecurity or imperfection. They are all-accepting in ways few humans can achieve.
- The loss of a protégé: Having a pet is much like being a parent. We are responsible for another life and often go to great lengths to ensure our pet’s physical and emotional comfort. Numerous activities revolve around our animal companion’s needs. We hire pet walkers and sitters to provide our furry friend with company or exercise. We go to dog parks to enhance our pooch’s life with social activity. All are efforts to provide our charge with the best caretaking possible. Consequently, the loss of a pet can feel like the loss of a child.
- The loss of a “life witness”: Not only do our animals provide us with their uninhibited emotional expression, but they also allow us to express parts of ourselves that we may never let other humans see. They observe our weaknesses, our victories, and move through years of our lives with us. During periods of upheaval, they often provide us with security, stability and comfort.
- The loss of multiple relationships and routines: Each role that the pet occupied (e.g., friend, child, significant other) as well as each role that we as owners took on is a loss. We must say goodbye to feeding time, walking routes, and all the aspects that made up our practical routines. We must not only say goodbye to the physical activities, but to the reflexive way we called to our companion when we wanted comfort and love. These goodbyes all contribute to the time and patience needed to grieve the loss of a pet.
- The loss of a primary companion: For some of us, our pet was our only social companion in the world. We may not have had any other close contacts, due perhaps to depression, anxiety, or a debilitating physical illness. We relied exclusively on our pet for support and love.
What Might Make My Grief More Complicated?
As if the range of losses just listed was not enough, grief may be complicated by any number of additional factors, including:
- Guilt: This is the primary stumbling block to a healthy grieving process. Did I do enough? Or “If only I…” Whether the pet died after a short or long struggle, many of us wonder if there were routes not explored, medications not taken, surgeries not performed. If we were unsure about whether all options were exhausted, then residual guilt may hinder moving through grief effectively.
- Euthanasia: Many of us are called upon to make the excruciating decision to end the life of a beloved pet. We spend our lives ensuring the health of our companion, and while euthanasia may end our pet’s suffering, it contradicts every instinct we have. Grief is further complicated if we are plagued by doubt — was it really the right time? Was he really getting worse? Questions like these may never be answered. Furthermore, we are left with the image of our pet as he or she died, which can be overwhelming.
- Circumstances surrounding the loss: If our pet died in a way we perceive could have been avoided, the duration and severity of guilt can be intensified. “I should have closed the screen door tighter so he couldn’t run into the street” or “I wish I had noticed her symptoms sooner, because she’d be alive today if I had.” Such comments only serve to punish us even further.
- Expectations that mourning will end at a particular time: One of the ways grief gets derailed is when we or those we turn to for support impose a timeline. “I should be better by now,” or “Why is she still so sad?” Not having the necessary time to mourn, which varies for each of us, creates emotional pressure to “get better quickly.” This ultimately results in the opposite of what we’re seeking — the process and all the feelings take longer to subside.
- Reawakening of an old loss: A companion animal’s death may remind the owner of a previous loss, animal or human. An unresolved loss complicates the current mourning process. It is then important to not only mourn the lost pet, but to take this opportunity to achieve closure on earlier losses.
- Resistance to mourning: This complication often arises out of our existing style of coping. Some of us may suppress feelings so that we don’t appear weak. We may fear that the tears may never stop if we allow them to begin. Whatever we use to defend against our true emotional experience will complicate our natural progression of grief.
Many of these complications have important functions. Staying conflicted about the death of our pets often binds us to our deceased companion, keeping us closer to the time when he or she was alive. Letting go of grief can also be mistakenly interpreted as a betrayal, that trying to feel better is equated with trying to forget. That is not the goal of grieving. We’ll always love our pet. Healthy grieving is getting “through,” not over, a loss.
What Can I Do to Help Myself Grieving the Loss of a Pet?
There are several things you can do to aid in the mourning of your loss:
- Be patient and kind with yourself. This is the first key to dealing with your grief effectively. Our losses are real, painful, and evoke a variety of feelings and memories. Any time you find yourself wishing you were better, wanting to be “past” it, remind yourself that your emotional processing has no set endpoint. You’re in mourning and, by pressuring yourself, you only make yourself feel worse.
- Find an ally: Find at least one safe person you can talk to about your loss. If you can’t identify someone who is safe, call your veterinarian and ask for the name of another pet owner who recently experienced a loss, or look into joining a support group specifically for pet loss. Also, check out these websites: the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement and the Pet Loss Grief Support website, which has chat rooms and online memorial services.
- Conduct an overview of your pet’s life: You can do this by writing down your thoughts and feelings or by sharing your pet’s story with your ally. When did you get your pet? What are some special memories? What were his or her personality features? What will you miss the most? This overview helps solidify the things you want to make sure not to forget.
- Engage in rituals: Humans have prescribed ways to mourn. We have funerals, ceremonies, and anniversaries of the beloved’s death acknowledged. These rites are designed to help us grieve and to remember our loved ones. Create your own rituals for your pet. Have a ceremony in the dog park. Hold a service at home or in a place special to you and your pet.
- Dispose of possessions gradually: Often, we encounter the food bowl, bed, or blankets and are unsure of what to do with them. The first step can be to move them to a different location from where they usually were. For instance, take the bed out of your bedroom. This helps the transition, and lets you move the items before you remove them. When you are ready, put your pet’s tag on your keychain. Seal his or her belongings in a trunk. Donate the bed to an animal organization.
- Memorialize your pet: Do a tree planting or sow a garden. These can be living tributes that will continue as reminders for years to come.
This is a sorrowful time. While we may be compelled to find strategies to move us through this period, there will be occasions when we won’t have answers to our painful questions or activities to quell our longings.
What would your pet do if he or she found you sad and in pain? The answer is clear: give you love, give you comfort, and stay with you as long as it took. We can all take a lesson from our animal friends.
A Pet’s Death Can Literally Cause a Broken Heart
The grief that comes with losing a beloved pet can be all-consuming. In fact, the pain can actually manifest with physical symptoms that mimic a heart attack.
A 2017 article in The New England Journal of Medicine detailed the case of a Texas woman who reported symptoms of a heart attack. But at the hospital, diagnostic X-rays showed unblocked arteries. The patient, Joanie Simpson, told doctors that, among other stressors, she had recently lost her 9-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, who had been suffering from heart failure. “I was close to inconsolable,” she told the The Washington Post.
Simpson was diagnosed with “broken-heart syndrome,” formally called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, a medical disorder in which the left ventricular of the heart temporarily balloons (the name “takotsubo” comes from a type of octopus trap shaped similarly to the enlarged ventricular). Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, and irregular heartbeats, according to the American Heart Association. It’s often caused by extreme stress and is more common in post-menopausal women. In the journal article, Simpson’s doctor, Abhishek Maiti, wrote that she had fully recovered in the year since the incident.
Simpson’s case is extreme, but the sentiment is common. Owners of recently deceased pets can expect feelings of extreme sadness, loneliness, confusion, and guilt, explained Joy Dias, director of client counseling and support services for the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in an article for the AKC Canine Health Foundation. “In fact, any emotions that we feel when a person we love dies are very likely to occur when a pet dies,” she added.
“Dogs don’t disappoint us the way people sometimes can in relationships,” says Roxanne Hawn, a columnist for AKC Family Dog and author of the book “Heart Dog: Surviving the Loss of Your Canine Soul Mate.” “Dogs also bear witness to all the ups and downs in our lives in a way that human friends don’t because dogs are with us all the time.”
This isn’t only a “pet person” thing. Psychiatrists in the human realm likewise acknowledge the impact the death of a family pet can have on an owner’s physical and mental health. “The loss or death of a cherished pet creates a grief reaction that is, in many ways, comparable to that of the loss of a family member,” Paul Clements, a psychiatric clinical specialist at Drexel University, and his colleagues wrote in an article for Perspectives in Psychiatric Care.
Humans aren’t the only ones that mourn. For more information on how canine companions process the loss of their owners, read AKC’s recent article on dog grief.
Everyone deals with grief in different ways. Strong initial emotions may preclude the inevitable sadness that comes when the shock is gone. These reactions are often taken out on those closest to the one experiencing the loss and act almost as a means of protection for that person until they are able to face the truth.
The process, as a whole, may look like the following:
- Denial and/or anger
- Sadness and/or grief
Dealing With Your Grief
While grieving is a very individual and personal thing, there comes a time for us all when it’s best to stop feeling the loss and to actively choose to move past it. The right time for you won’t necessarily be the same as for someone else. Depending on how long it takes you to move through denial and get to acceptance, it could take weeks or it could take years for you to become ready to deal with your grief. When you are ready, however, you don’t have to face it alone.
Where Can I Get Support?
Aside from willing family and/or friends, there are entire communities of people who feel just like you and want to connect. Types of support include:
- Pet-bereavement counseling
- Pet-loss support hotlines
- Online and/or local pet-loss support groups and forums
If sitting down for a one-on-one with an actual counselor or even getting up the nerve to attend a local support group proves too much at this point in your process, Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary medicine offers a toll-free Pet Loss Support Hotline for grieving parties. You can also add your thoughts below to receive pet loss support from our community here.
Personally Facing Death
While outside support is an important tool for coping with your grief, there are some things that a support group can’t do for you — you have to do them for yourself. Here are a few things that you can do on your own to help on your path to recovery:
- Acknowledge your sadness, embrace it, and give yourself permission to feel and express this pain! It’s a vital part of the healing process.
- Write out your feelings. Whether it’s in a personal journal or an essay on Fido that you submit for publication, writing is extremely cathartic.
- Volunteer with a local animal shelter. While this may be best left for the later stages of grief, just like helping other people helps you forget your own problems, helping other animals may help you move past your loss.
- Prepare a memorial for your pet. The act of having a service, saying a few words, and laying your pup to rest can help give you the closure you need.