Your grief is normal.
Pets are family, and the death of a beloved family member is devastating. You may be surprised or even embarrassed by the intensity of your grief. You may be anxious about disclosing your feelings to others, particularly because society generally doesn’t view pet loss as equal to human loss. Please remember that your grief deserves care and compassion no matter its cause.
A Dog’s Purpose (from a 6-year-old)
This is a story that we’ve seen many times, although we can’t pinpoint its origin. It’s a great reminder for us of the joy and love that dogs bring into our lives.
Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.
I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.
The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up. “I know why.”
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation.
He said, “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The six-year-old continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”
Friends to the end.
You’ve lost your best friend, but the love you feel for them lives on. Remember that you were your pet’s best friend, and their love for you was the most unconditional love you may ever experience. Love and loss, grief and gratitude, all a gift. You are your pet’s forever home.