The heartbreaking experience of losing a beloved dog

The heartbreaking experience of losing a beloved dog

Emily Book

It’s 10 am on Monday, December 27. I slowly opened my eyes and heard footsteps coming down the hall; I remembered that my mom had just returned from the vet with my dog. Sophie had been acting weak for the past couple of weeks and her breath smelled incredibly bad; it was a weirdly bad smell. My family suspected that her teeth were rotting, and the pain from her mouth was putting her in pain.

   The next 10 minutes were a complete blur. My mom began crying and brought me into the living room, where she could talk to everyone in my family at once. She explained to us that my dog’s kidneys had failed unexpectedly. The smell we had been smelling for weeks coming from what we thought was her “rotting teeth,” was actually her kidneys dying. Then came the statement that completely broke me.

   “We have until 5 pm today to say our goodbyes.”

   My heart sank into the deepest pit of my stomach. I was nauseous with shock and nearly had to run to the bathroom. 

   The longest hours of my life began after that statement. Hours were spent sobbing with family, spending precious time with my dog, and accepting unexplainable grief. When the time came, everything felt like a distorted reality; nothing felt real. Seeing one’s beloved pet lose its life right in front of one’s eyes is truly traumatizing.

   For some, their dog is just an animal that lives with them. They feed it, let it outside, and pay it little attention; they keep it alive. For others, their dog is a member of their family, a best friend who keeps them going. This is why saying goodbye to a beloved pet is extremely hard, and it is rarely talked about.


The Overwhelming Love We Have for Dogs

   “I had a Rottweiler named Buddy. I loved him so much; he was the best dog I could ever ask for. He and I would go for walks, play, and take naps together. We were really close; he was my best friend,” Soph. Guadalupe Guerrero Nieto said. 

   Dogs truly are our best friends. Holding on to this fact, it is hard grasping the concept of “dog years,” knowing that for every year a human ages, a dog “ages” 7 years. Dogs don’t live nearly long enough, and they leave a long-lasting effect on us.

   “I was very close to my dog. Me and my dog used to sleep together all the time, this was the first time I had ever cried from a pet dying because I was so close to him,” Soph. Jamar Lewis said.

   “When my dog died, it affected me a lot, for days. It still does now, after 2 years. My host family (I’m an exchange student) just got a puppy and I got so sad because I would constantly remember my dog, even after such a long time,” Soph. Clara Laino said.

   What people rarely talk about after losing a pet is the horrible after-effects. The grief of losing a pet can be very close compared to losing a human. 

   “I was heartbroken. The night before she passed I lied down next to her and cried until my mom made me come back inside. I had a rough few months where I would remember her and not be able to control my tears,” Sr. Hannah Dick said. 

   This heartbreak is nearly unexplainable. Not being able to control tears is an overwhelmingly scary feeling. It feels like there will never be an end to the emotional pain.

   In my own experience, my dog had to be put down just a short couple of weeks ago. Her death came as a complete shock, as we found out her kidneys suddenly failed. The agony of losing my dog Sophie, who was a part of our family, has been awful. The intense sadness gives no break, and I have images of when she was put to sleep ingrained in my memory. Losing a dog is no joke.


Finding Ways to Cope

   Although losing a dog is extremely painful, one must find a way to cope with it. Everyone has different coping methods.

   “My parents bought me a stuffed animal that looked just like my Buddy to cope with his death, I still have it to this day. I’ll never forget him,” Guerrero Nieto said. 

   “Telling myself she was in a better place now helped get me through,” Sr. Biana Kroll said. 

   “My parents were always there for me when I cried. They helped me feel at peace about it,” Dick said.

   It is often the love of family that helps us hold on.

   “My mom and my other dog named Princess are what helped me cope,” Frosh. Michelle Pacheco said. 

   Having another pet at the time of a beloved dog’s death really can help one with grief.

   What is getting me through is the support of my family, friends, and especially my little dog Prince. He is a sweetheart and is always there to lick my salty tears when I cry. He’s always there when I need a tiny hug. 


A New Pet?

   After losing a dog to death, the question of “Will you get a new pet now?” always pops up.

   “I had a few goldfishes and pets here and there, but it wasn’t the same, but now we have a new puppy named Milo, and a soon-to-come kitty,” Guerrero Nieto said.

   “We waited for a pretty long time before we got another dog,” Lewis said.

   “We as a family decided not to get another pet after him, too much pain,” Laino said.

   “We got a new dog like a couple of weeks after my dog died,” Jr. Libbie Pilarski said.

   Every family is different. For some, getting a new dog after the first one died would feel like a replacement, the guilt would be too painful. For others, it helps ease the pain. 


Dogs are Family

   No two families have the same experience of losing a dog. Dogs can fill our hearts with a copious amount of love when they’re here, and they can fill our hearts with a copious amount of pain when they leave. 

   “The bond with a dog is as lasting as the ties of this earth can ever be.” – Konrad Lorenz