How to Cope When the Animal You Love is Nearing Death or Has Passed Away
I have lived with dogs since I was a young child; however, the true bond with animals began in 2000 with Guda, a yellow Labrador. This critter was the definition of the perfect dog; he was obedient, loving, and knew me better than I knew myself. When he turned ten years old, I decided to adopt Inu, a two-month-old Labrador-Sharpei puppy. Inu was to comfort Guda with company and the purpose to teach him that old dogs’ lives are stimulated by a new puppy injecting life into them. Senior dogs also educate young ones by setting boundaries and correcting wrongful conduct when they overstep their bounds. For my wife and I, adopting the puppy also was a way to cope with the eventual departure or death of Guda the Labrador. What do I mean by this? Whenever Guda would die, we would still have Inu, and we would never be alone. In 2010 we moved to Berlin, Germany, with our dogs, Guda and Inu. Guda was already old and began to show health issues shortly after moving to Germany. Two years later, after a full day of fun and joy, he died of a heart attack in our apartment the following morning. I hadn’t cried so much before Guda died, not even when my mother passed away. We had Guda cremated and kept the ashes. I remember how Inu the puppy stared at me while I was sobbing in front of Guda´s lifeless body, we looked at each other, and he sat down next to me – I knew he was now my new best friend. I was devastated by Guda´s departure, but I had Inu as a company, and as a responsibility, we went on long walks in Berlin with snow in winter or during the hot summer. Parks, dog parks, restaurants, and cafes, Berlin is a paradise for dogs and their owners because it is so dog friendly. Caring for and spending time with my surviving dog took the edge off when the morning of Guda´s death.
Another way of coping with the death of your loved animal is by not focusing your attention on the fact that he is no longer by your side.
We are mortal; unfortunately, these furry fellows live their life cycle too fast; we need to accept this as an uncontrollable fact. Instead, I concentrated on celebrating Guda´s life and love by remembering the joy I felt with him when he was alive. Of course, it was hard work and a process, and I remember how many times I would remember him and start to cry. Little by little, I voluntarily shifted my attention from mourning to remembering nice things and feeling joyful and grateful for so many years of happiness.
Years later, when Inu turned ten years old, I adopted Lily in Brazil, where we had recently moved; she is a beautiful black Chow chow-Labrador mix.
Years later, my wife and I divorced and agreed that I would keep and care for our dogs. One afternoon as I sat on the sofa in my living room one day, Inu came to me and “said” goodbye. I felt him being sad and coming up to me like he had never done before. It is hard to describe his behavior, but I can tell you it was a goodbye; I felt it. I told him that it was okay, that he had been a wonderful, perfect friend and that he was allowed to go (die) whenever he felt it was time. I told him that Lili and I would be okay after he left. Soon enough, one morning, Inu, just like Guda, died of a sudden heart attack. Lily and I were devastated, and we buried him in my garden with Guda´s ashes. I planted an avocado and a banana tree over and beside his grave. I remember Lily crying and digging the earth when I finished burying our friend, she was also crying, and it broke my heart.
At this point, without denying my sadness, I tried to focus on good memories of my dog, happy, joyful times, and celebrate his life instead of thinking about his absence. He was a good dog until he died quickly and with minimal suffering for him and me. Of course, I miss him very much even today; however, I continue to shift my emotions to gratitude and remember the good times together.
Today, I enjoy Lili´s company and friendship; she is now the perfect dog. She learned very well from Inu and is a calm, friendly, obedient dog. She has earned all my trust; love, and I enjoy every moment together. Chow-chow-Labrador mix with a black tongue with bright amber eyes will make you admire her beauty.
So, I recommend you follow the same cycle as I do by adopting a puppy when your older one turns ten. Also, remember that, inevitably, they will someday die. However, be brave, focus on gratitude, and remember the good times with them. Enjoy every second when they are still around. Be sure to do the best for your animals, including exercise, and cook for them instead of buying processed food as it will give them many more years of a healthy life and keep them away from the vet. A hefty dose of hugs and kisses with love will keep them around for long.
Amazingly enough, I know emotions can be overwhelming, but once the shock is over, we have the power to feel however we want. How we think is a choice; however, for some, it is more complex than for others. How to live a healthier emotional and mental state is a topic I wrote about in another blog; I recommend you read it as it may also help you cope with the suffering and departure of one of your loved animals.
Losing a pet can usually be overwhelming and start all kinds of heartbreaking and challenging emotions. Maybe some individuals may not comprehend the profundity of love you had for your animal, and you should never feel guilty or embarrassed about mourning an animal companion. This is another helpful tip.
Humans react to losing a pet differently. The amount of heartache you undergo will frequently vary because of age and character, your pet’s age, and the reason for their suffering or death. Typically, the more meaningful your pet is to a person, the more severe pain will be felt.
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Animals assist many older adults in remaining enthusiastic, and this can raise the immune system and boost energy. It’s essential to maintain the person´s exercise after losing a pet and taking care of one’s mental health such as therapy and starting or doubling down on meditation. Consult your medical doctor before beginning an exercise routine and discover something you appreciate doing.
I wrote about my personal experience and tried to be as forthcoming as possible; I understand your grief, and I hope I could help you cope a little better with your grief.
By Garry A.