How To Survive The Loss Of A Pet

August 17, 2018 Published by
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Loss Of A Pet

It has been almost four months since I held Orchid in my arms. Our last interaction will remain with me forever. As I cradled her head in my lap and bent my head down to kiss her for the last time, she was kissing my hand as if to tell me, “I love you. I understand.” After a few kisses, she was gone and with her death went part of my heart. This is the image that I will remember.

How am I surviving the loss of Orchid? Not easily. Not easily at all.

I’ve Been Thinking Lately…

I have given a lot of thought to why pet owners are so devastated over the loss of their pets. Human relationships are complicated. Our relationships with our pets are uncomplicated and sweet. There is no agenda.

Our relationship was simple. We were loyal and we would never betray one another or hurt one another’s feelings. Additionally, we were always kind, needed one another and placed no demands. Orchid appreciated me. I appreciated Orchid. We brought calmness and joy into one another’s lives for 4,198 days in a row. Our relationship was total love and the best type of love at that… simple.

Fortunately, I have my Ultimate Concierge. We help one another through this loss. We cry together, talk about her together, and we miss her together. In other words, we grieve together, but we also mourn, alone.

Loss Of A Pet

There is No Prescription For Personal Grief

I don’t have a prescription to hand out on how to grieve the loss of a pet. Grief is personal, and my healing process may be different than yours. I will, however, share how I am surviving in hopes that it may help any of you suffering loss in any form.

My prescription: I allow my feelings to unfold. I hold nothing back. I permit myself to feel the heights of emotion; from utter grief with tears running down my face, to guilt, anger, loneliness and reliving special times, and even, yes, thoughts of bringing a new puppy home. My way works for me.

Over the last four months, I have been grief stricken. All types of emotions flood my mind. At times I am lonely for her peaceful manner, and at times I suffer guilt for not putting her to sleep sooner than later. Other times I just cry, like right now. At times I am angry that she, this lovely animal, had parents who carried a gene that killed my Orchid. I also question and wonder if I can love another pooch like I loved, and still love, Orchid.

Loss Of A Pet

Once a Pooch Lover, Always a Pooch Lover

Mixed into my pot of emotions is the theory that once a pooch lover, always a pooch lover. A home is not a home without a pet for the Good family. Some of my friends who lost their pet wait for months to open up their hearts to a new arrival while others decide they cannot go through the heartbreak of another loss. I also have friends who have a new pet within a few weeks.

Looking back over the past four months, I believe I kept myself from feeling total devastation by having hope I could love another pet. And foremost in my mind was the knowledge that my strong husband, Sheldon Good, was aching over the loss of Orchid and needed a pooch, a pal.

On the day that I broached the subject with Shelly, I said, “I was thinking of asking a few friends who have Wheaten Terriers who their breeders were. What do you think?”

Without a pause, he answered, “Go ahead!”

His quick response startled me because he is a ‘thinking man.’

A few days later, over breakfast, he asked, “Any luck yet?”

I did not feel guilty while on my mission that took hours of time that I did not have. I am now sure it was a part of my way of healing. Each time I would pick up the phone or write another email to a breeder I felt I was doing this in honor of Orchid who brought so much joy into our lives.

Loss Of A Pet

Our New Adventure

As you know, we will have a new puppy soon. I believe this puppy will have Orchid’s soul, and I know why. For reasons too deep to explain here, I want the pooch to be like Orchid. And while I don’t know who this puppy is because there are nine in the litter, I feel such a rush of love for this little mystery pooch who I will soon hold in my arms.  And this is good for the soul. Because there is no emotion stronger than the rush of love and the desire to give of oneself.

Our wonderful breeder sends me videos of the nine little rascals eating, sleeping, running and exploring, and my Ultimate Concierge and I laugh and laugh as we watch and wonder which one is ours.

I listen to my husband’s laughter and watch his expression and happiness, and I know the timing is right. I believe giving our love to another pooch is a compliment to Orchid.

Orchid’s kiss made me melt. We were quiet companions on our walks. Our outings in the park were fun. As she played with the other pooches, she would turn her head and make sure I was near.

After our walks we would climb up twenty-five steps to the top of the Museum of Contemporary Art and watch the world go by down below us, our bodies hugging one another. I am crying. I miss our daily uncomplicated, pure and profound love affair.

My love for Orchid is tucked away in a special section of my heart for eternity. I am glad I have the capability and need to welcome into my heart another pooch. For me, it had been a part of the grieving and healing process. Part of grieving the loss of a pet is moving forward into the now. You are not replacing your loving pet. You are honoring the memory of the one you lost.

I honor you, Orchid Good.

How Have You Survived the Loss of a Pet?

I would love to hear from you, so please share your thoughts with me via TwitterFacebookPinterest, Instagram or in the comments section below.

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15 Comments

  • Constance says:

    I lost my Australian Shepherd, Locky, seven months ago. He was only seven years old and died of lymphoma. For three months we tried chemotherapy but Locky was unresponsive to treatment. I am 72 years old and don’t know about getting another dog. I will never stop mourning for my boy Locky. Reading your article has helped me realize that it is o.k. to grieve.

  • Toni says:

    Had you considered a rescue dog? My first and second dogs were breeded dogs. Then I saw too many sad stories about dogs who needed to be rescued. Ever since we have rescued two dogs and two cats. 💜

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      I did think of rescuing. It is hard to find Wheaton Terriers. Most pet owners have rescues. Thank goodness. Warmly, Honey

  • Susan says:

    Dearest Honey,

    The beautiful dog I had was lost when I was 12 years old. Her name was Priscilla. She was my dearest friend and constant companion. She seemed to be there through all those gawky teenage years to no avail. Her ability to learn was unmatched by any dog I’ve had since. She learned how to balance herself on the front of my bike and she wasn’t a small dog. When we drove to the store she would chase our car until we picked her up.
    The story of how I lost her was too much for here but I do believe, like you, that she has lived in my heart forever. I have had many dogs since Priscilla and loved them all. Yet My Priscilla will always be my most special.

    I truly hope you find love and happiness with your new pooch. Animals can bring us many gifts in their own individual ways.

    Best,
    Susan

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      What can I say except we were both lucky to have an irreplaceable pooch who will love in our hearts forever. Warmly, Honey

  • HelenA says:

    My beloved toy poodle died in 1987. He had been a gift to me. I could not bear the stress to an animal of locking it into a crate or my basement for 12 hours a day while I was out of the house, so I opted not to get another pet.

    When I retired, I asked a friend who owns a pet care business if I could help her with some of her little “clients.” I have been doing this for 6 years now and it’s the perfect solution for me. Over the course of a year I care for maybe 50 pups and kitties. I have Maine Coons, Burmese, Persian, and many rescue kitties. I care for King Charles Spaniels, Labradoodles, Border Collies, Collies, Bichons, Jack Russels, Chihuahuas, and sweet rescue doggies.

    I am more than fulfilled, covered with love, and appreciated. I take vacation when I like. I make bank deposits every two weeks! I do on-site care and stay for weeks in people’s homes while they travel or handle family emergencies. I take pictures and text the families about their pets’ antics. I am bonded and insured by the company where I work and they always have kind and effective advice when I need help. My career was never this much fun!

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      You made the most perfect choice of how to spend your time with animals for the pets, their families and yourself. You are happy and so is everyone you know you care for. My hat is off to you! Warmly, Honey

  • Lynda B says:

    Dear Honey:
    I have lost so many pets, I’ve been involved in the dog fancy at different times as a breeder, as a competitor, and now mostly as a photographer.

    My breed now is the shiba inu. Having had malamutes, akitas and basenjis over the years, it was a nice compromise between size and coat. The hardest part of course is taking that long sad journey to the vet. Dogs seldom give us the gift of just passing away at home. I met my husband in 2003 and most of my shibas were then relatively young, it wasn’t until 2010 that I lost one and my husband was always, always there with me even though I know it hurt him so badly (as it did me).

    The last dog that I had to put to sleep was my Jimmy, who was 16 and we both cried in the vet’s office after they left us alone, and he said, I really hope there is a Rainbow Bridge. He held me at night when I cried, and then … only 5 days later I was left alone when the love of my life died of a heart attack while running on his lunch hour at the age of 48. This was a little over 18 months ago. I was supposed to be planning his 50th birthday party and instead I am still grieving his loss.

    I now know I face the loss of at least 4 more shibas without him to comfort me and it’s a terrible thought. I think it seems logical to think that someone who has lost so many dogs over the years might get used to it, but on the contrary I think it gets worse. I do believe sometimes it is the kindest thing we can do for them, even so I think sometimes I have waited too long, but as I tell everyone when they ask “how do you know when the time is right,” it’s a very personal decision and you will know when the time is right.

    I don’t know at this time if I will get another dog when my shibas gone, I’m at the county limit of 4 right now, but time will tell.

    I would like to say that my will has instructions for my dogs. I have two very good friends that will take responsibility for them so my family does not need to worry and I don’t have to worry about my dogs after I’m gone. I would implore your readers to make sure their family is willing to take care of their pets or to make other arrangements, too many beloved pets end up in shelters, oftentimes in their old age when they are not very adoptable, can you imagine how hard that is for them?

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      Your losses have been unbelievable. I am so sorry you lost your husband. I was widowed in my forties. too. I hope you have another life with another man as I have these past 26 years. I send you my deepest sympathy and thank you for your wise message on how to make choices for our pets after we are gone. Blessings sent your way. Warmly, Honey

  • Diana Turowski says:

    When I had to put down my Pavlov & Scrooge —- on the same day no less —- I was beside myself. I wrote an obituary for them, which I will admit, is one of my best pieces of writing. Putting my grief into words, celebrating their lives, was cathartic.

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      Putting all of our thoughts into words is very cathartic. You are very wise. I am so sorry for your losses. Warmly, Honey

  • Violet O'Brien-Hill says:

    We lost our beloved ShihTzu, Garth, 10 months tomorrow. We are still grieving and tears come easily. We have decided not to get another pet because we are older and worry what would become of it when we pass. In the meantime we are always looking for a dog to pet, especially, a ShihTzu, which we are having trouble finding in our community. Garth was so special in so many ways…the love of our life. He was 3 weeks short of 16 when we lost him.

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      I will always grieve for Orchid. I know how you are feeling. If you have a family member or close friends who you would trust if need be I would talk to them and if they say they would take your pooch, why deprive yourselves of another pooch to love. Food for thought? Warmly, Honey

  • A.Gibson says:

    Honey,
    I’ve been watching this journey with Orchid as I know my beloved Shitz Tu will have to transition one day because of anal gland cancer.
    I can’t imagine life without him. His eyes, his antics, his love. I’m asking God for all the time I can selfishly have without my fur baby being in pain. Thank you for sharing your experience and emotional tribute to Orchid. Wishing you the best with the new baby!
    A. Gibson

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      Thank you for writing to me. I am sorry you are going through what I went through. I learned: let them go when they no longer can be who they were meant to be. I held on too long and I am very sad about it to this day. God BLess. Warmly, Honey

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