“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went.” – Will Rogers
Today marks 12 months since our beautiful Lizzy, 14, passed away after a short illness which was sudden and unexpected. We had, in many ways, been preparing ourselves for a long time but we hoped she’d slowly fade away, that we’d have a special last day of a beach visit, ice-cream and a cheeseburger but sadly it wasn’t to be. I felt cheated. She spent her last 3 days very unwell with numerous visits to and from the vets before we made the decision. The grief that my husband, myself and our son felt was overwhelming. I know we all say our pets are special and Lizzy really was. She came to us at 6 years old after being emotionally neglected prior, and she lived a full and happy life from thereon in. We adored her. She had a stint as a therapy dog and is one of the kindest dogs I have ever met. In the days after she passed, we were overwhelmed with gifts, flowers, cards, and beautiful memorial items. We now have a special piece of furniture with many of her memories on that and around the house. To this day, if someone asks about our dogs, I always include Lizzy. Lizzy in my mind, is still here. I’d like to share this beautiful, beautiful gift given to me to my amazing friend and nail artist, Kellie Sherack (Redhead Nails). If you know my dogs, it will make you cry as her attention to detail was beyond incredible.
I believe that if a dog passes and had a happy life, that the dog will always be with us, following us quietly and taking care of us. – TJ
I was blessed to be overwhelmed with love and care when Lizzy passed because I am a big part of our beautiful and active community. I am aware that often these passing’s are barely acknowledged by friends and family. For those of us participating in Doggie Dates, animals are our family. They are our soft place to fall, our joy, our reason to get up in the mornings. Without a doubt, most of us are ‘animal people’ rather than ‘people people’. While I have been sad to lose people I know, it is the loss of my pets throughout my life that has deeply impacted me.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – Winnie The Pooh
When I was a young child, I went to a friends place one day. She had a lovely cat called Sam Black. I had a lovely cat called Frisky. I was unaware that Frisky was unwell and I loved him dearly. I talked and talked to my friend about my cat Frisky. When I got home Frisky was gone. I was told (quite bluntly) that he had been put to sleep that day as he was unwell. I was beyond devastated. I remember crying and crying and being told not to ‘be so silly’. This grief stayed with me. I never had the chance to understand or say goodbye. I raised my own child differently, he was present for most of the pets that had to be put to sleep, he held them, he cried, and he was incredibly brave as well and participated fully in the goodbye process, right from the passing of the first pet he knew, Christina. He was 3 years old. Now at 22 he is a huge animal lover and has a kind spirit.
“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” – Vicki Harrison
This wonderful article, Coping with Losing a Pet, covers lots of aspects of pet loss and what you may feel.
What really stands out to me is the section about, “Dealing with the loss of a pet when others devalue your loss.” Reach out to others who have lost pets and regard pets as highly as you do. Look for online forums and animal groups that can understand and share your loss and grief with you. Be kind to yourself.
One of the resources we absolutely love is a counselling service run by Vicky Nonas, who has been part of our group for a long time.
Counselling with Vicky
Just like human loss, there is no right way to grieve, no amount of time or sequence of steps that we go through. We are all individual and the most important thing is that we acknowledge what we are feeling and allow ourselves to grieve. Talking to like minded people helps a lot. The loss of a pet can hit the elderly particularly hard. Often they live alone and have lost many human friends and family and their pet is their constant and can literally break their heart. We need to be very gentle with everyone who loses a pet and allow them to talk about their pet and how they are feeling.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss)
This article, ‘How to deal with the loss of a pet”, lists some tips to cope. I will summarise but strongly encourage you to read it.
Take your time
Give yourself permission to feel
Care for your other pets
Talk to friends and family
Keep their memory alive
It’s okay to move on too
Talk to a professional
Consider sharing your pets legacy
Please note, everyone deals with grief differently. When Lizzy passed we rescued another dog shortly after. This for us has been very healing but it does not mean we don’t miss Lizzy any less. For some people, they are not ready to get another pet for a long time, for others, another pet helps them heal Neither is wrong or disrespectful.
“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them and filling an emptiness we didn’t ever know we had.” – Thom Jones
I love our members to share about their pets include pets who have passed recently or many years before. It is beautiful to hear the stories and share your joy and grief so you are always very welcome to do this and to reach out to any of our team if you want to do something special in memory of your pet or if you just want someone to listen.
“Sorrow is how we learn to love. Your heart isn’t breaking. It hurts because it’s getting larger. The larger it gets, the more love it holds.” – Rita Mae Brown
I wanted to finish with some memories of pets from group members that have passed on. We express our sadness to all our members who have lost pets recently or long ago. They will never be forgotten and have shaped who you are today. Please see below also for support contacts.
Firstly, a beautiful memorial written by Vicky Nonas, Pet Bereavement Counsellor who recently lost her own precious dog, Daisy, who I had the privilege of meeting.
I haven’t been ready to publicly share the loss of my beloved Daisy, a little over 4-weeks ago.I t goes without saying that my heart is incredibly heavy and there are times I find it hard to breathe facing life without her companionship. From day one as a cheeky pup, Daisy travelled with me on a daily basis where I help my husband in his business. Then in 2015 she also helped me at The Cottage seeing my counselling clients, often sitting steadfast and providing quiet comfort by their feet as they found themselves in the midst of the loss of much cherished pets, or other life challenges and transitions. But there was none of that first, as first she would get all of the tennis balls out of the kids room to play! I was always replacing toys and balls! She was my Office Manager and then my Practice Manager. Both personally and professionally, life revolved around my tenacious Daisy. In 2018 her eyesight deteriorated and slowly dementia played its awful part. Arthritis too became her daily lot. I had known the gut wrenching inevitable time was coming, and sadly whilst we were on holidays recently my sweet girl rapidly deteriorated. For some reason I had packed her special blanket, the new pack of tennis balls, and some musk sticks (her favourite treat) were purchased. Surrounded by her people, she gained her wings on 28th January. I then tested positive to Covid and had to return home without her. The house is eerily quiet, the silence deafening.If love could have saved her, she would have lived forever here by my side. I have been taking a break from seeing clients this past month and allowing the space I need to tend to my broken heart, as grief demands my attention. Loss makes us question everything, about our lives, about why we are here. It shakes everything up and turns our lives upside down. Please know you are not alone in feeling so deeply the loss of a much loved pet, in fact it makes sense it is a painful experience such is the indescribable bond we are so privileged to have with them.Daisy, you will always be by my side, and forever in my heart girl.
For support contact:
Vicki Nonas http://www.bymyside.net.au/
Lifeline 13 11 14 (24/7)
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 (24/7)
Doggie Dates NSW 0422354798 / email@example.com M-F 9-4
Some of our Doggie Dates NSW members much loved pets. Never forgotten.
Ginny, she was only 9. She was peacefully put to sleep on the 19th of august 2020 due to congestive heart failure. I’ve assisted lots of pets cross the rainbow bridge, despite that it’s always incredibly hard when it’s one of your own – Luka
Bula passed away in Feb last year at almost 13 years & we still miss him & think of him every day. He was our protector & snuggler. Our first grandchild born two months later helped to ease our broken hearts. – Donna