When our dog dies we feel we have lost a relationship based on mutual trust, unconditional love and understanding.
Our dogs understand us better than our closest human companions, they read our body language and their sense of smell lets them know whether we are ill or indeed about to become ill. Unlike humans dogs do not have negative characteristics. They never betray us they do not talk about us behind our backs, never answer back.
Those who have shared a deep bond with their pet must expect to feel its loss very deeply and they will enter a grieving period. Common symptoms of grief include crying, feelings of anxiety and isolation. Loss of appetite and generally disinterested in life. It is not uncommon for physical symptoms to occur as well. Often just seeing other people with their pets can provoke the thought ? Why is that dog alive and mine isn?t?
These reactions and feelings are normal and a natural part of grieving. Once you can accept that your pet has gone forever you could well be able to get on with your life.
If you find it difficult to talk to someone about your pet it may help you to write about your pet and remember the happy times you had together, or just put down the words how you feel about your loss.
Let yourself mourn your loss.
Don?t fight the pain when it occurs.
Take it into your heart and let it rest there with happy memories.
Take your time. Grief can last for days, weeks, months or years.
Share your emotions with someone.
Face up to the fact that your dog will not return.
Don?t be embarrassed about seeking professional help.
A new dog or cat
Sometime the loss of your beloved pet is so devastating that you are unable to contemplate having another pet. You just couldn?t face going through all the trauma again but you know you might have to one day. Some people replace their pet immediately, feeling that something is missing in their lives without a canine companion.
It is often wise to wait a little while before taking on a new dog or cat because you may in your grief, be trying to find a substitute for your pet. All dogs and cats have their own personality and you will not be able to stamp your old pets personality onto a new one. Some people feel they will not be able to love a new dog as much as their previous pet. If you feel this way you should not have another pet for a while.
Eventually as time passes, the pain of loosing your pet will heal. Then you may start to think of all the dogs in rescue centers waiting for new homes and may consider opening your home and heart to one of these.
Do not feel guilty or disloyal to the memory of your previous pet and give wholeheartedly to your new dog- he deserves it. He will bring happiness to your world.
Commitment, Firmness, but kindness.
Coping with Bereavement
by David the Dogman
David is a Canine Behaviourist who works and lives in Marbella, Spain. Tel/Fax (00345) 2883388. His web site is located at: www.thedogman.net. David has his own radio and TV shows, and writes for many newspapers and magazines. David has been working with dogs for many years and started his career in Israel, working on the Border Police. He has been involved in all forms of training, including air sea rescue, air scent work, and has trained dogs for finding drugs. David has devoted the past 10 years to studying behaviour and the very passive approach. He does not use choke chains, check chains, or any form of aggression.