The death of a much-loved dog is always tough to cope with. Sometimes, as a pet ages or struggles with serious illness, you have advance warning of the unhappy event and can begin to prepare practically and emotionally. Other times the loss will be sudden, leaving you shocked and raw.
Whichever situation you find yourself in, some things remain the same. You have to take care of your pet’s remains and you need to get yourself and your family members through the ordeal.
Choosing Cremation or Burial
One aspect of your pet’s death which has to be dealt with quickly is the disposal of the body. Most homeowners will opt for a backyard burial, but if you rent your home, this may not be possible, and if you live in an apartment, a home burial is not an option.
Ask your vet for information about local pet cremation services or pet cemeteries so you can make the necessary arrangements.
In cases where you know that your dog will soon be gone and you plan to have a backyard burial, it’s a good idea to prepare the grave in advance. This way you can dig the hole a little at a time and won’t have a miserable job to do on the day.
Helping Kids Through Their Grief
The death of a pet is often the first loss that a child experiences. Having some story books on hand that deal with the subject in a sensitive way will help your child make sense of what has happened. Depending on the age of your child, the free to print book I Miss My Pet: A workbook for children about pet loss could be a big help too.
Be sure to tell your child’s teacher about the loss of your pet so that they can offer support while your son or daughter is at school.
Other Dogs at Home
While you’re focusing on your own feelings of loss, it’s easy to overlook the grieving of family pets. Your other dogs have lost a family member too, and they’ll need time to mourn and adjust to the situation.
How long do dogs mourn? The timescale varies, some dogs get over their loss fairly quickly while others can take up to six months to get back to normal.
Help your dog recover with extra walks and play sessions, and some new toys to occupy his attention.
Take Care of Yourself
Don’t try to minimize your grief. While it’s true that a dog isn’t a person, you still feel the loss keenly. It isn’t silly or weak to mourn your pets. It’s human.
Many people find that talking about the loss of their pet helps a great deal and some of the best people to talk to are other pet owners who understand the way you’re feeling. You can easily find support groups online if you don’t have anyone locally to talk to.
Dogs are amazing companions that enrich our lives beyond measure, and when they pass on they leave a huge gap behind. But time does soften the loss, and one day you’ll be ready to bring another loyal companion home.