The Loss of a Companion
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2016
Owning a shih tzu, or any sweet dog, is the one of the greatest pleasures we can know. Owning a pet that can return your love has been attributed to higher survival rates in cancer patients, lowering stress levels and high blood pressure, calmer and more loving households, healthier lifestyles, and I could go on and on. Though not every household with a pet enjoys such benefits- let's face it, many owners do not treat their pets as they ought which diminishes the benefits. But for those of us that have known the love of a dog and returned that love in care and providing safety, feel the loss harshly when they leave us. You may not think me much of an expert as I have stated elsewhere that, while I was breeding, I did not keep my adults after their breeding years. I found them homes with the elderly, lonely, or sick that desperately needed the companionship of a well behaved and well cared for adult dog to help them through their trials in life. I also stated elsewhere that I grew up on a farm- well more like a self- sustaining property. Growing up in this environment had many perils. I lost a dog to a careless tractor driver, another to the illegal placement of poisoned meat for the coyotes, another to a vicious dog; cats to everything from dryer incidents to unsuccessful engine searches before starting a car. The canal at the back of our property was not large and there was a dirt road on the other side separating us from the neighboring fields. Here is where all of my childhood friends were treated to formal funerals and headstones to help us cope with the loss. I was lucky. Many children are raised in areas where this is illegal and unsafe. I cannot tell you how many times I grieved and lost sleep over a sick puppy that I could not save. I am no stranger to pet loss.
Coping with the loss is handled in many different ways depending upon the personality of the owner and the circumstances surrounding the loss. I continue to use the word "loss" as I also understand that the pain is no less when the dog is given away due to extenuating circumstances such as job loss and the inevitable move, the appearance of severe allergies making the continuation of ownership impossible, and the sorrows of the elder no longer allowed to continue to enjoy the companionship of a beloved pet when their health demands a change in their situation. Loss is loss, no matter what circumstance is to blame and everyone handles this loss differently. Some cannot move on without something to ease the pain so the best remedy is to find another pet as soon as possible to help calm the void. Others need to fill their days with activity until a time when they are more able to cope and even others feel it too much to be near another animal until the pain has subsided. Those I consider truly lucky are the ones with other animals in the household to help carry the burden and provide the solace so desperately needed. When a recent move took every animal, save one, from me because of the extreme health concerns of those I was living with I look back knowing that my son's therapy cat, Ember, saved me from depression. She was only 5 weeks and therefore too young to be of concern to those family members suffering from stroke and heart attack brought on by dander and smoke, though we had to keep her in a part of the house inaccessible by the main with vents covered with cheesecloth and an air purifier for good measure. This time spent with her as a kitten, teaching my son to care for her, teaching her to love him in return, and training her to be the comfort and support he needed to see him through his disability brought me comfort and joy that has seen me through some of the darkest times of my life to the happiness I now enjoy with my family and the return of two of my dogs. There is another side beyond the pain, but how you reach it depends upon you and the support around you.
So, speaking off support and off the subject of me; below are a list of sites that may help you in your grief. They include helps for burial, memorials, and support groups. These are all here to help you as the owners have their own stories of grief and wish to help as many as they can. If you find a site has become callused or is not helpful, please email me immediately. No one should have to suffer further pain.
This is a wonderful site if you are looking for a pet cemetery or crematory for your pet. Should you want a better way to say goodby, you can find a list by state here.
A great web forum support group meets once a week and there are also tributes to pets who have passed. If you cannot find a support group in your area, this is my highest recommendation!
Pet Loss Support Hotline
Yes, you can call and talk to someone. The Cornell University is available for phone support, support groups, other hotlines and other resources.
Pet Lovers Forum
This forum is dedicated to everything animals, and though it is not, solely, for bereavement purposes, there have been posts in the past from owners whose pets are dying or have died and the replies have been overwhelmingly kind and supportive.
Stories, tributes, poetry, and a candlelit ceremony are the purpose for this site. Take the time to peruse it, you may find some comfort.
Pet Loss Support
If you would rather not talk about your loss you will find tips on coping, healing, finding another pet to help fill the void and where to go for help.
My Pet Loss
Another great site with tips and an understand community. Find stories, poems, prayers and ceremonies.
Tracks in the Sand
Find help, tips and a chat room for memorials. My favorite part is their extensive list of links.