Grieving Your Dog – 7 Questions Their Loss Brings To Mind

October 22, 2016  

If you’ve ever lost a dog to death, you know how painful it can be. Once the numbness goes away, you start to second guess your decision (particularly if you’ve had to put your dog to sleep), as well as things about your life together. (I use the male pronoun in this article for consistency, but it certainly applies to girl dogs as well.) Here are answers to 7 tough questions you may be asking yourself as time goes on.

How can you miss him so much when he never spoke a word? Just their presence in a room was so soothing even though their were never words. Why is that? How is that possible?

Now that he is gone, we are all too aware of all the sounds we miss–the sound of his paws on the floor, the sound of them going from sitting to lying down, his rapid approach when the lead came out for a walk, or when they heard the rattle of paper or the smell of food that indicated they were going to have a treat.

All of these were constants that made us smile all through the day. When he was around we may not have noticed them, but now that he is gone we are painfully aware of all the sounds and gestures that filled our days.

Why did he bring out the best in me? One of the great perks of loving a dog is that they love you back in way that makes you think you’re all that and a bag of chips. And the best part is that they believe it.

Because he was so consistent about greeting us with wagging tail, and sparkling eyes, when we looked at him that goodness was reflected back on us, and somehow made us want to live up to his expectations. He never judged, but simply accepted what we had to offer, and that made us want to do the same.

Did he know how much I loved him? Dogs know way more than we often given them credit for knowing. How many times did your dog growl at someone for no apparent reason? There was a reason. And think about all the times he went immediately to a perfect stranger?

That’s because they are often far better judges of character than we smart humans are. There’s nothing like a wagging tail to say love.. It’s just that simple. It doesn’t usually get any more complicated than that.

Did I do all I could to make his life wonderful? If you read past the first sentence of this article, you obviously loved your dog, and put a lot of effort and thought into making his life the best it could be.

How did he manage to get anything he wanted from me without whining? It’s all in the eyes. Dogs use their beautiful eyes to make words unnecessary. I don’t think anyone fully appreciates this until you’ve loved a dog. But next time you’re in the grocery store take a trip down the aisle where the dog treats are and look at the eyes. You’ll remember again that words aren’t necessary.

Did I do the right thing by putting him to sleep? If you had to euthanize your dog, no doubt it was an excruciating decision and experience. But if it was done out of love to spare him from the needless suffering that would surely have come, then the answer is yes. You did the right thing.

Why did he have to die? My daughter asked this question of me when my Dad (her grandfather) died. And since I didn’t feel like I had the answer myself, I sent her to talk with the priest who christened her. He told her that dying was just the way things worked. I was struck by the simplicity of the answer.

And yes, it’s true, death waits for us all. But it is my greatest hope that when it is my time to go, I will cross over to a place where my three Goldens will come running joyfully to welcome me. I wish the same for you and your dog.