When I was kid we had a wonderful dog named Charlie. Charlie was a german shorthaired pointer who wandered into our yard one day, and successfully knocked my brother over and scared the living daylight out of me. We called the phone number on his collar and were told that he was too much for them to handle, so “perhaps we should just keep him”. Looking into his sweet, happy face we couldn’t believe anyone would just get rid of him. “Can we keep him? Can we, PLEASE?”
Charlie definitely came with issues. He was pushy, barked a lot, jumped on people, was food aggressive, and if he got off leash, would chase the neighborhood joggers. Lets just say Charlie wasn’t always on his best behavior. Even with all of his issues, he was our friend and a part of our family. Charlie grew to be extremely loyal and was easily my dad’s best friend. When Charlie passed away, it was a very sad and confusing time. How do you grieve for a dog?
For most of us, our dogs are a part of our family, and just like family, we are deeply saddened when they pass on. Saying goodbye to our loyal companions is very difficult, not just on us, but on our other pets as well. So what can we do to help our other companions go through this process too?
1. Understand that dogs are pack animals. They will and do notice the absence of a member of their pack, and will ultimately grieve that loss in their own way.
2. Don’t change their routine too much. Dogs, like kids, will notice a change in routine and will often become stressed. New food dishes, a new bed, moving their crate to a different room, suddenly being taken to a dog daycare every day, are all potentially stressful changes.
3. Increase their physical activity a little. A tired dog is a happy dog. Think about the same situation with humans. When we’re depressed, exercise and increasing endorphins can be very helpful and if anything, will take our minds off the grief, essentially giving us a break from the pain.
4. Be aware that animals are very sensitive to your emotions. A stressed human can enable and/or create a stressed animal. Maintain a calm and assertive energy, and your dog will be able to see that they still have their pack leader.
5. People will oftentimes want to fill that void by immediately going out and getting a new puppy. While that might eventually be a great option, first give your dog time to adjust and grieve. A new dog entering the home can increase the amount of stress that is already there. If you want a playmate for your dog, there are plenty of dog parks you can take them to, or even set up a playdate with a friend’s pup. Drastic changes to their core environment should wait until the grieving process has subsided.
The reality is that every dog is different. You know your dog, and can sense what they need. Trust in that and follow your instincts.
The Rainbow Bridge
“Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together…. “
– Author unknown…