Need Help Coping with the Loss of My Dog

Updated on May 28, 2015
W.V. asks from New York, NY
21 answers

First off, I'm not a mama but was a very proud papa to my dog. I apologize if this community is for women only but I couldn't find anything else plus I prefer to talk with women anyway. My dog was 14 years old. Despite his age and a few medical conditions, he was still going strong, especially with the acupuncture treatments he started. He passed away yesterday due to an accident at home while I was at work. By the time I got home it was too late. His death is really starting to affect me. He was my first dog and was my entire world. I feel very guilty for not being there when he needed me. I took the day off from work and I realized how empty my home and my life is without him. Have anyone of you gone through this? How long did it take to be able be ready to adopt again? I need to grieve before I can even think about adopting/rescuing another dog but I know I eventually will again because of my love for animals. I don't want my next dog to be a rebound dog so to speak. I appreciate any responses given - it sure helps me to talk about it and hear others experiences.

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answers from Boston on

Welcome to Mamapedia. We have a number of men on this site, and they are more than welcome. Please ignore the harsh comment by the person reprimanding you for joining this. We have tons of questions on this site that don't relate to parenting, including pets, vacation, car purchases, and much more. You are more than welcome to request support and I hope most of the responses are kind and helpful.

I'm so sorry for your loss. We had a dog for almost 14 years and we know well the pain of losing a dear old friend. Ours died of cancer in our arms, and she was ready to go. We didn't have to make that very painful decision to have her euthanized. I think your situation is more complicated because there was an accident and you weren't there, so you feel guilty. I'm not going to tell you how to feel, but I will remind you that we all have accidents and risks, and tragedies happen.

I am so very sure that your dog loved you and knew that he was loved by you. I'm sure that he had stayed in the house many times when you were working, and I trust that he felt safe and secure there. I think dogs who have to go into trauma hospitals at the end of their lives suffer as well - maybe they are not entirely alone, but they are in unfamiliar surroundings which causes a lot of stress.

As with any death, it's harder on the survivors. So you are left coming home to your quiet house without your longtime companion to pant, wiggle and wag a tail.

You are doing the right thing, to grieve and feel the pain. You are right not to think about adopting yet. It's too soon, your feelings are too raw.

Here's what we did - maybe some of it will help you. We read "The Rainbow Bridge" which our vet sent to us. We notified a few families in the neighborhood whose children were attached to our dog, to let the parents explain to the kids in their own way. A group email seemed easier than one-by-one or being asked individually by neighbors where the dog was. We boxed up her belongings (toys, dish, leash) etc. and put them in a closet, which was easier at the time than deciding to donate them to a shelter or constantly facing them. Ultimately, we did donate a number of things that were usable by lonely and displaced dogs - that felt good. We buried our dog at the edge of our woods, and we made a grave marker with a simple "garden stepping stone" kit from the craft store. We used a combination of the stained glass shards and marbles that came with it, and some written words using the alphabet stamps we purchased separately. It helped. (In contrast, neighbors buried their dog's ashes and a couple of toys, and used a similar marker over that. Another set of neighbors planted a tree in their dog's memory.)

How long the grief lasts varies from person to person. Take whatever time you need. Don't let anyone tell you to get over it or that "it's just a dog." There's no timetable on grief - remember that.

It took us more than a year to get another dog - my husband still wasn't ready, but I saw a local newspaper's series on adoptable dogs from a local, well-rated shelter. Most weren't appropriate for us because I was looking for a non-shedding dog. But one day, a dog's profile popped out at me - it was a mix that included the breed of our former dog. When the same profile was there the following week, I knew it was time for me to go look. My husband came around after the dog was in our home for a few days - once she jumped up on the couch and put her head on his knee. She was a 1.5 year old rescue and we couldn't be happier. I think we gave her even more than she gives us - if that's possible.

Take the next few months - at least - to evaluate your lifestyle and what you want from a dog. You have a lot of love to give, but it takes a special dog to stay home all day while someone's at work. That's hard with a puppy, and it's hard with a rescue who may have been abandoned once already. (Ours had been abandoned twice - but we work at home and she's rarely alone.) So you might want to evaluate a dog sitter or a doggie day care option. But not now. It's too soon. Somewhere, somehow, a dog will come into your life at the right time.

If you continue to feel guilt, please seek some short term counseling to help heal. Don't feel silly about this - it's a very real feeling and you are entitled to support.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I lost my dog after 14 years - it was devastating. He had gone through so much with me and was literally the only breathing soul that had always been 100% loyal to me. In fact, if it weren't for him, I probably wouldn't be here - he helped me out of a lot of "sticky" situations!

It took time - as with any loss. I still remember not being able to sleep because the last thing I used to hear was him plopping down in the floor next to my bed. It was very lonely.

I can now look at pictures of him and remember him with a smile and no tears. He will live in my heart and memory forever! You will get to that place, but only with time. Grieve your loss, but don't wallow in it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

So sorry you lost your dog. It IS heartbreaking when we lose them. Please don't blame yourself, no one has a crystal ball and can foresee everything.
I usually give myself 6 months before I adopt another dog. You need time to grieve but everyone is different though.
You're a good man. Lots of great pets need homes. When the time is right, you will find another wonderful dog to love. Sorry again for your loss.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I just lost my Big Bad puppy dog at the end of March. He was only 8 and a half years old but I feel like Ive always had him. I still cry & look to see him in all his favorite spots around the house.
I'm amazed at how badly I relied on him as a safety blanket, so to speak...I miss him so badly. I love him like no other.

I suffer from wanting another just exactly like him in both looks & temperament & I know that's irrational & I'm assuming I'm not ready.

I'm sorry for your loss.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

It is such a sad thing to go sorry. It took me a little over a year to start the searching process for another dog. Some people move much quicker than that. It is a very personal decision, and you will know when you are ready. The one thing I did do, and so glad I did, was to get our first ever cat about a month after our dog died. Our home REALLY needed some furry unconditional love and we were not ready for the new dog. The animals bring us a lot of joy and are extremely entertaining to watch together!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

I am so sorry I know how hard losing a beloved animal can be. We had to put our first dog down at 15 years old about a decade ago. It really does hurt.

You'll go through feelings of loss and sadness and then one day you'll realize it doesn't hurt quite as bad. You will start to be able to enjoy the memories instead of feeling only grief. It really isn't all that different from grieving the loss of a person.

There are so many neglected and unwanted animals in this world. Don't feel guilty, you gave him a good home, companionship and love for so many years. He was lucky to have you.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Very sorry for your loss---welcome to this site. The person who did the rude post has been reported and that post will probably be removed.

Don't blame yourself because things in life happen that we have no control over. I have always had dogs (some cats too), but I'm a life long dog lover (doggie mama). Like you my animals all lived a long and happy life. Still with each loss came a need to grieve, cry and be sad. I took about a year before I adopted my new little guy. I tried to go to shelters after about six months, but the first time, I just sat in my car and cried. The second time I made it inside, but could not stay. The third time I went in and looked at all the dogs but still needed more time. Then I went to the Palo Alto shelter and met my little Ray. I just sat and visited with him (he in the kennel--me just sitting in front talking and petting him through the cage). I went back a second time and then on the third visit, I asked if he could come in the open play yard. I sat on a bench waiting for him to come out. He ran to me and jumped in my lap (as if to say "we need each other"). Needless to say I adopted him that day and he has been a joy every day. I still miss and think about all my pets..still tear up now and then. But I will always want a doggie in my life because their love is unconditional. People who have pets live longer and have less stress. May God bless and comfort you in your time of loss. Trust me there is a dog out there just waiting for a good Papa like you.

Kindest regards

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I am so sorry for your loss.
Our pets are part of our family.
Try not to replay the "what ifs" in your mind. It doesn't do any good. What you
can do it focus soley on the loved him, were good to him,
gave him a loving home, made him a part of your family, had him for 14 long
good years.
It takes a little bit of time to get over the loss of a beloved pet.
The best thing I did was wait a small amount of time then a situation presented itself to adopt a dog....and I did. The time was right & while this
new dog will never replace or take the place of my other fills a hole in my heart & gives me something to focus my attention on...this fun, energetic dog, taking her for walks etc.
Give yourself some time, be sad for a bit then if you are in a position to adopt another pet....the SPCA is a great place to go see if you can give a dog in need a good home.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Aww, I'm sorry for your loss. 14 is good in dog years. My aunt recently lost her pup at the age of 12. Animals are such wonderful companions. It's always so hard when you lose one.

The Rainbow Bridge is a comforting poem, and helps to know that one day you will see your furry friend again.

Hugs to you during this time.

As far as adoption, I know it took myself about a year to find a new pet. It depends on what you feel, and if you are still capable of owning an animal and taking that responsibility and time again.

For my parents, they lost their German Shepherd 8 years ago, and still aren't ready. I think the right animal will come into the picture when you are ready.

All the best!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Danville on

I am sorry for the loss of your dog.

I am a mom to many kids and 'fur babies'.

Many here may be sympathetic...some might not be as this is predominately a parenting site.

I have heard many wonderful things about 'rainbow bridge'. Perhaps google that, and see if that is a better place to share your loss.

I send (((cyber hugs))).

Best to you in your grief.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I am sure a number of us have gone through this.Dogs are part of our lives. How wonderful of you to turn to nurturing Mamas!
We had a dog who died a couple of years back and about two years later our son brought another one ever since. Good luck and so sorry for your grieving and sad loss

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Give yourself some time.
How much? No once can say - there is no set time table for grieving.
You gave your pet a good long happy life.
Eventually you will want to do this again for another dog.
You'll know when it feels right but it will take time for you to get to that point.
My condolences on the loss of your dog.
It's just like losing a family member - and the grief is the same.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

((hugs)) its best to grieve first then begin to heal and then think about another companion. it will all work out in time. ((hugs))

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I'm not sure what post on here is considered to be rude. The poster who suggests that you go to family and friends rather than a website is correct. If you don't have family and friends, that's pretty sad and I hope that this isn't the case.

It will take a while to get past the pain of losing him. There's nothing that's going to change that. I lost a dog to cancer and it was hard to watch him suffer. If it helps you at all to consider that your dog went quickly, then hold onto that. It's so hard to watch your pet suffer.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

I'm so sorry for your loss. I know as mine are aging, I will face my own losses, some of them sooner than I feel I can prepare for.

Every person experiences grief differently, and every individual affects us in a different way. How you cope with the loss of this special pet will be different to how you will cope with the next one you lose. And I don't mean that it will be easier. I have had many dogs in my life thus far, but there are only 3 that I call my "heart dogs", that have/will tear me apart when they go.

Some people find they need the comfort & solace from another animal right away, others need time and space to heal, and pay honor to the pet they have lost. There is no "right time" but to address your comment about a rebound dog, go into getting another dog with your eyes & heart open.

Know that you are opening your heart to a completely different individual, with its own personality, quirks and interests. There will be similarities, we as humans are always trying to make connections, but don't compare the two. Love a new dog as it's own entity, and take comfort in the fact that you will be forming a different bond, not a replacement bond, with that dog.

I found this article (see link below) & have kept it saved so that I can turn to it when I have need. It may not have the answers to all of your questions, but I hope it does help to validate your feelings. I wish you peace, and comfort knowing that your dog is waiting for you on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, ready to pick up right where he left you. T.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Grieving death is perfectly normal. Feeling the loss after the death of a trusted pet your cared for and doted on is normal. Each person grieves in their own way. As many has said no one can truly know how long is long enough to grieve or when you will be ready.

Allow yourself to feel what you feel while allowing yourself not to be consumed by those feelings. By consumed I mean thining in absolutes, "I am so sad I will never be happy again." Thoughts like that are absolutes but they are also not true. Try to think of the good times. When you have your bad days and you will, just know tomorrow is a new day and a fresh start.

For some getting a new pet to lavish love on works but for others it takes longer to get past the grief and to deal with all of the emotions of loosing their pet before committing to a new pet. I'm sorry for your loss. If you just can't seem to get past or over the loss get professional help.

I'm so sorry for your loss.



answers from Kansas City on

Willie, give it some time and I recommend maybe doing a little scrapbook or journal about the funny things he did or the good memories you have of your dog. I am so sorry that the accident occured. My dog of about 12 yrs died this winter in an accident too. I am going thru a divorce so it was especially bad timing. I have 2 daughters at least, but I miss my dog, Benner Boy. He was a long-haired german shepherd. Wonderful dog. I intend to do some scrapbooking myself about him. Lots of neat things to remember about him. I need to do it soon so we don't forget them. My heart goes out to you. To keep it from being a "rebound" dog, I'd say get a totally different breed so you don't expect it to act the same as your dog did. Because the new dog will be a totaly new personality and probably won't act the same and you'll be disappointed if you have that expectation. Take some time and grieve and keep talking about him...that helps a lot. Blessings! J.


answers from Santa Fe on

I am so sorry...grieving for a beloved pet is so hard. Yes, I have gone through this twice as an adult. It's like losing a loved one and just as hard for me takes a lot of sobbing, mourning and awful sadness and then with time you start feeling better. Yes, you feel this big hole in your life and in your house. I would find myself looking around for my dog or expecting them to be there. The grief is terrible and crushing. Choosing a 2nd dog carefully in about 6 month really helped also. Not that I stopped grieving but it gave me something to focus on and a new furry being to love. My current dog is a big husky mix and she is 14. It kills me that she may die at anytime. She is my sidekick. She is just so sweet and the best dog. Her health is good and we go on our walks together and just love each other...but she does have lumps growing inside her and I know one day the lumps will get too big. So I am trying to brace myself for her death. It will be really hard bc we are very close. I am so so sorry to hear about the loss of your dog. Hang in there. Just know that things really do very slowly get better with time.



answers from Austin on

So sorry for your loss. Try not to let your guilt overtake you. You didn't make this happen. He lived a long life and it sounds like a very happy one. Do you have a hobby? Do you exercise? You need to find something fun to do while you grieve your loss. The emptiness is normal.

I wouldn't wait too long to adopt again because it doesn't sound like you would neglect a new dog. If it was truly "a rebound dog," you would care for it for a while and then you would do less and less for it. It sounds like you are exactly what a rescue dog needs right now.



answers from Baton Rouge on

I have had pets for as long as I can remember. My first memory is of picking out a kitten. Losing one hurts, no matter the circumstances.
You will grieve for as long as you need to grieve. You will know when you are ready to adopt another pet. That may happen quickly because the right animal just falls into your life, or it may take years. Either one, or anywhere in between, is fine. There is no "should" when it comes to readiness. Do what your heart tells you to do, whether it's adopt, foster, or wait.



answers from New York on

I can truly understand. I think a trip to a shelter might find that you will be rescued by a beautiful dog. I am so sorry for your loss. Got to and write a tribute to him. It stays in the site forever. I frequently go back and read about my sweet Callie. It does help. Good luck. It takes time. He will live in your heart forever.

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