Our pets enrich our lives in indescribable ways, from unconditional love and affection to unlimited meaningful companionship.
For many pet owners, our four-legged friends are equally as important as our two-legged children, and take up a special place in our hearts forever. They’re there to comfort us through the hard times, and make our lives that much more enjoyable during the good times.
That’s why it can be especially difficult when a beloved pet passes.
The loss of a pet may not necessarily feel the same as when a loved human passes, however those with deeply-rooted emotional connections with their pet often suffer from insurmountable grief that cannot be discounted.
When we lose a pet, our entire routine changes too. Our pets become so embedded in our daily lives that losing them can cause an overwhelming disruption to day-to-day life.
If you know someone grieving the loss of their cherished companion, never say, “It was just a dog!” While at first it may seem like a well-meaning gesture, to someone in that state of grief it is evident their pet was more than just a pet. Our pets are our confidantes, our closest friends, our family.
Everyone deals with grief in their own way, but when it comes to our pets, there are certain things that we can do that might help:
- Take time to yourself, the mourning process cannot be rushed.
- Purchase a memorial plaque on Paradise Island at Beautiful Joe Park.
- Plant a memorial tree to remember your pet by.
- Have a 3D-printed model or portrait made of your pet.
- Donate to a local animal shelter in your pet’s name.
- Create a photo album of your favourite photos of your pet.
- Visit a pet bereavement support group or online chat.
- Turn to close friends and family for comfort. They want to help!
- When you’re ready, consider adopting a new pet to help fill that void.
One of the hardest parts of losing a pet is the feeling of regret. Most people prolong their pet’s lives through pain and suffering for much too long, simply because they feel guilty about making the choice to humanely euthanize. It’s a responsibility that weighs heavily on all pet owners eventually. Fortunately, it can also be a gift to your pet as well.
Above everything else, quality of life should always be the primary consideration with our pets. However, it is the deep love we have for our pets that clouds our sound judgment during these times. Keeping a suffering pet alive because we can’t bear the loss, or because of self-doubt, is not fair to your pet and only prolongs their anguish.
Having pets is certainly an emotional roller coaster. We laugh, we play, we cry, we mourn, but above everything else, we love.
Brandon Forder, known as The Pet Expert, is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, an industry leader in healthy pet lifestyles. Brandon is certified in pet nutrition, and has more than twenty-five years’ experience specializing in pet health and behaviour. He has written hundreds of informative pet-related articles for newspapers, magazines, radio, and the popular Ask the Pet Expert blog. Brandon is highly skilled in pet problem solving, and enjoys teaching others about smart and responsible pet ownership. To learn more, visit www.CanadianPetConnection.ca.