In the back of your mind, you know the day will come when you have to say goodbye to your best friend. Although you celebrate every birthday, it’s also a reminder of time passing. When your dog dies, you go through the natural grieving process and pour over memories. Our animals are threaded into the fabric of our lives so when they cross over the rainbow bridge it’s absolutely devastating.
I unexpectedly lost my teacup poodle, Cooper, recently. It was the hardest loss I’ve experienced in a long time. He was my best friend and my inspiration for starting FurMom. I thought I was taking him to the vet for a trachea collapse issue and he died of a heart condition that night. The day had started like any other. Although you know the possibility is always there, you are never really prepared.
The grieving process
In the week that followed, I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t stop crying and looked at every photo and video I took. At the time my digital scrapbook of him was incredibly comforting. I didn’t touch that many of his things in the house because I wasn’t ready. They are still in the house, now they are in one corner. I liked seeing his favorite toy where he left it and I kept his blanket on the bed because he slept in bed with me. Not having him move around in the middle of the night kept me awake.
One thing I needed to do a better job of was taking care of myself. I had no interest in food or sleeping. I didn’t want to be alone but I also couldn’t imagine having company. Grief can be a very confusing time. Friends and family checked in with me to see how I was doing and offered advice. Remember to snack and drink water if nothing else.
The house was way too quiet. Cooper was no longer my morning alarm and no longer at the door to greet me when I got home. He was a factor in every decision I made so I no longer had him to ground me. That may be a wonderful thing for some people, for me, it was terribly uncomfortable. He was my traveling buddy and went to every birthday party and holiday dinner. This wasn’t just my loss, but also a loss for my parents and my brother’s family.
Honoring your pet
One of the things that kept me occupied during my grief was figuring out the best way to memorialize Cooper. I did request his ashes and questioned whether to spread them somewhere or keep them. At this moment they are still sitting in the cedar box they came in and I still haven’t decided. There are ways to honor your furry friend if that is something that is important to you.
Whenever I would get home I would ask: “how are my boys doing?” Cooper’s bunny brother is named Niblet. Although his behavior didn’t blatantly change, I have no doubt he felt Cooper’s passing and I’m also sure he wanted his Mom back to normal. What I didn’t count on was adopting another dog soon after Cooper left us. However, the hole he left was so big, I decided the best way to honor him would be to rescue another dog. I wanted energy back in the house and I also wanted to smile again.
Do you adopt again
It wasn’t an easy decision. I sat on it for several days and said if I didn’t feel comfortable with it, I didn’t have to get in my car and pick up my new girl. Ultimately I felt that there was no downside to rescuing another dog and thought it would be good for Niblet and me to have our own therapy dog. Her name is Abby and I adopted her from the NorCal Poodle Rescue. She has had a couple of rough years so we are comforting each other. It made me feel good to know Abby would be Cooper’s little sister.
Cooper’s loss still greatly affects me. I’m not done crying and his birthday was a tough day but I still celebrated even though he wasn’t here. His friends in the neighborhood still look for him and it’s been hard hearing pet parents say “Cooper’s not here.”
Grieving is a tough business and there is no time limit on your pain. A big question is always whether to adopt again. If your lifestyle allows for another pet and/or your current pet is missing a friend, Petfinder.com is a great place to start. There is no wrong answer. You’ll know if it’s right for you and when you’re ready. Just know your furbaby would want you to be happy and would love to know you are going to take as great of care of their sibling as you did them.