My dog died. It hurts to type that. Shay died a week ago yesterday. Shay was (to type the word “was” hurts too) a 12-year-old Shih Tzu that entered my life before I met my husband and had my two human children.
Losing what you love hurts.
The loss of a pet is raw. The loss of anything or anyone important to you always is. How do you deal with the loss of a pet? I’m not sure anyone has the real answer to this question. It’s not easy. It’s not fun. It’s not something I want to go through again.
There are many stages of dealing with a loss in your life. Losing a pet is no different. This is my first pet loss experience. So far I’ve been through shock, denial, pain, anger and appreciation of a life well loved. I’m not sure what stage I am currently in now. Perhaps I’m just coasting.
Here’s what I think is important after you experience a loss:
Remember the good times and the bad times.
It’s important to hold on to the memories, good and bad. Don’t be afraid to think about your beloved pet. Shay was my little pet-model and co-worker. We spent many happy moments together that will always warm my heart. She also pooped and peed a lot on my carpet in very specific locations. I think it’s OK to remember everything because that’s what made your pet unique. It wasn’t always peaches and cream! It’s OK to be OK with no pee on your carpet. Don’t beat yourself up about it. You know you loved your pet! That’s all that matters.
Cherish and appreciate what you love.
Although I knew Shay was coming to the end of her road, I didn’t know exactly when that would be. It came suddenly and intensely. I was not prepared. There will probably always be some regrets, even when you have warning signs of an upcoming death. You’ll wish you had hugged, kissed and appreciated them more. I tell my daughter that it’s good to make mistakes. I personally learn the most from the mistakes I have made. I will learn from this. Hold your children, family members and your furry friends closer each day. I will spend more quality time with those that I love. Did I neglect my dog? No. But I sure wish I would have spent more time spoiling and loving on her. Don’t get wrapped up in the “should have done” and focus on the “will do” lessons from the situation.
Grieve at your own pace.
My husband almost immediately put Shay’s kennel away. It made me sadder that day. I actually like having some of her things around the house as a reminder of the love I have for her. Some people might think that’s a little weird. Sometimes the hardest thing is seeing reminders all over your home! But I like it. I smile when I see her treat jar. She loved those treats. It’s ok to not move on right away. Take your time. I know I am.
Children might take it easier than you’d think.
Everyone keeps asking about my kids. How are they? How are they dealing with the loss of your dog? Actually, my six-year-old daughter was a champ. When I came home from the pet ER, she had already colored me two pictures of Shay and placed them proudly on the refrigerator. She’s like that though, pretty empathetic and selfless. She’s doing OK with it. Her only request is to get a fish. Oh, gosh!
Should you get another pet?
As for another dog or feline in my life, the jury is out. My husband quickly says no. At least right now. I say, “When can we go to the Nebraska Humane Society to look?” Which we all know means adoption. It feels empty around the house. It’s really just too quiet. Shay wasn’t a loud dog but she did have a full presence. She was my workout buddy, always there to watch. She was my shoulder to cry on, always knew when I was upset. I’ll probably adopt again. I just don’t know when.
How should you deal with the loss of your pet?
Do whatever makes you happy. There is no right or wrong answer. But never forget the pet you lost. Hold on to the memories. Never forget what she or he brought to your life. Maybe even write an article about her. It sure has helped me.
NOTE: When an awesome and loving friend brings you strawberries, whipped cream and six shortcakes, EAT IT! Don’t skip the treats just because you’re trying to lose baby weight (I know… it’s been a while). Just do it!
❤❤ Thank you for reading my story. This is in loving memory of Shay. You will be missed.
This post was written with coffee from a straw. A friend of mine told me it helps to not stain the teeth! Who knew?!!