How to deal with the sudden loss of your dog

juicy asks: I lost my dog. I love him very much, but one day I arrived at my house to find he was dead and they had already taken him away. So I don’t know what to do. It was so fast that I didn’t know anything in that moment, and couldn’t believe it.

Oh Juicy, how awful!


You’re suffering from two hurts, both of which are devastating.


First of all, I’m not being conceited at all when I say that losing a dog often hurts people more than losing the people they love most.  It’s not that they love the dog more, but that there’s something so simple and pure about that love, versus the more complex relationships they have with other humans.


There are lots of things I can recommend to you.  First of all, you were right to write me about it.  Talk to others too.  This isn’t a secret, it’s a real valid pain that you have the right to have.


Second, is there some sort of

ritual you can have?  When people die, other people have funerals, and that helps them through the transition.  But lots of times, when a dog dies, people don’t have any special thing to do about it.  So you can invent it.  When Handsome was a teenager and lost a dog, he made that date a special day, like a holiday.  And every year on that day, he’d do certain things, and sing a certain song that spoke of that dog to him, and it really helped him get through it.  Maybe you can do something like that.  Or you could have a funeral for the dog, and invite some friends over to talk about him, and maybe even do a particular act, like making a bonfire or something to honor him.


And third, it will definitely help to write down his story.  What did you love about him, what was special about him?  Did you two have some great adventures?  And yes, what happened to him the day he died?  And how do you feel about it?  If you like, you can even send it to me.  I promise you, Handsome and I will both cry.  (Also, if you’d like, I’d love it if you’d send a picture of him to me.  I’ll publish it in the next issue of “The Pawprint.”)


But those are just things I would tell anyone who’d lost a beloved dog.  You also have gone through a horrible experience.  The shock of coming home to news like that is a traumatic event in itself!  You should do something about that too.  Writing down what happened will help, but maybe the people who were there when he died can help you out too.  What if each of them wrote down what happened, the way they saw it?  And you could keep those papers, so you’d feel a bit more connected to what happened to him.  And maybe you need to talk about all of this with someone outside your home.  Is there a counselor at your school, or someone at your place of worship, who could listen to you?  Or even just a trusted friend.


Regardless, this is a huge event.  It will probably never happen again to you, but you’ll remember it forever.  What we want is for you to find a way to move past it, so you can live happily from now on, with beautiful memories of the great dog you loved, and will always love, so much.


With all my sympathy,


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