The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Overcoming The Heartbreak Of Losing Your Dog

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Overcoming The Heartbreak Of Losing Your Dog


This story is about the loss of my little ShihTzu, Sugar who crossed over the "Rainbow Bridge" in 2008.

The loss of a pet can be devastating! I speak from experience. I am Sugar's Mom. I have and always will love animals. I lost my little Sugar on October 2, 2008, just a month before her 12th birthday.. Sugar was a sweet lovable dog. We got her from a pet shop in 1997 at 6 weeks old. She stole my husband the first week! I stayed home with her for about a week to bond with her and to get her use to her new home. She adapted very quickly and was soon running the house...literally! Up and down the stairs, jumping on the couch and she loved to hide and jump out on you! This little dog changed my whole life.
When she was about 2 years old we decided to get her a companion, another shih-tuz. We got a handsome little black and white shih-tzu that we named Domino. They quickly bonded and became inseparable. As I sit and write, I can feel my emotions stirring up as I remember October 2, 2008.

In the months prior to her death Sugar was in and out of the animal hospital. She was coughing a lot and was on medication. I was very careful to give her the medication on time. Nothing seemed to work as she got sicker. She had been put in on oxygen for several hours and finally I was allowed to take her home. I could not sleep for 2 days. When I did sleep, I slept on the sofa with her and Domino's little beds right beside me. I awakened to find her in Domino's bed beside him. She had never done that before. The beds were only designed for one dog, but somehow she had managed to cuddle up with him. That's when my heart began to sink and an overwhelming feeling of sadness consumed me. I knew that she was telling him goodbye.
I gently picked her up and took her upstairs and placed her in my bed next to me. I can remember her eyes where sort of squinting and starring at me. I kissed her and told her that I love her and that she could go now. She had been in so much pain. Every time that she coughed her little body would shake all over. Frightened I carried her downstairs and called to my son. Just as I sat her down all of her legs seemed to give away under her and she when flat on the floor. We rushed her to the animal hospital a few blocks away and waited while they stabilized her. They told me that she was very sick and needed treatment and it would cost approximately $2,000. Once home I can remember looking down at my wedding rings...yes, I was going to sell them if I could to get the money needed for her treatment.

My sister heard of Sugar's illness rushed to my house. I can remember sitting at the table on the Internet trying to find somewhere to sell my wedding rings. When it happened...the phone rang. I saw the words P.G. Animal Hospital come across the phone. I hesitated and my sister kept telling me to answer the phone. I picked it up and a soft voice said, I am so sorry but Sugar has passed. I don't remember what happened next because I collapsed, when I came too I was told that I had grabbed Domino and was squeezing him so tight that someone had to take him out of my arms.

I felt like I was going to die! The pain was one that I had never felt. I thought I was having a heart attack...but soon realized that it was my heartbreaking! I could not eat or sleep for several days. I felt guilty. Although, anyone that knows me would tell you that my dogs had a wonderful life. They had their own love seat that I purchased to put in front of a large window so that they could climb up on the window seal and look out, nice comfortable beds and never missed a vet or groomers appointment. I know that I took good care of Sugar, but I still felt that I should have done more.
The next few days where really hard. The first thing that I notice was there was no barking to go outside. Sugar was the leader and Domino was a follower. She is the one that would bark loud and come and get you if necessary when she wanted to go out. I had sugar cremated. I then turn to God. I asked him to take this pain away, and he did. I asked him to help me deal with this and he did. I went online and went into every blog or chat room I could find to talk with people who are going through a loss, and reading their stories, was a great help. I realized that I was not the only one who was grieving a pet.

You are reading this because you have lost a pet or you have a very ill pet. To comfort you let me just say, I am so sorry for your loss...and yes, I do know what you are going through. I am listing several things that have helped me through my grieving process, and hope that it will help you.

The Pain:

The pain is almost hard to bear, but you will be okay. Cry as much as you need too, believe me this helps. I cried until I had no more tears.

Your Pet's belongings:

Do not immediately get rid of you pet's belongings. You would think looking at their little bowl, toy or blanket is going to make it worst. It is not. The first thing I did was took Sugar's picture off of my screen saver on my computer and bagged her little toys, and other items up and put them in a bag. I felt worst! It was like I was hiding her existence. I put her back on the screen saver and put all of her items in her bed. I gave Domino her blanket. It was hard seeing these items on a daily basis but as time went on I began to accept my loss. it has been over a year now and I have stored her items away. Sugar's cremation box sits in my curio cabinet with the picture that is shown on my profile on it. When you walk by her eyes seem to follow. My husband and I still talk to her. It now brings a smile to my face when I see her looking at me and I thank God for the privilege of having her in my life.

Don't blame yourself!

The guilt can be strong. It was not your fault and you did nothing wrong. Just as we humans were born and will die someday...so will our pets. Just remember that your pet was a gift from God, and will someday return to him. After Sugar's death I could not understand why this happened to me. I had to pull myself out of the guilt and understand that I did nothing wrong. I became very protective of Domino. If he coughed I would rush him to the vet. I was afraid that he was going to die too.

Most importantly

Don't let other's decide how you should grieve. Sometimes people are insensitive to a person's feelings when they have lost a pet. They will say things like, "it was just a dog"! To these people I say as -- Anatole France says:" Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened". I had it said to me a couple of times and it made me furious. My first instinct was to lash out at this person. I politely told them that what they called, "just a dog", was a family member that I loved dearly.

Time does heal

It's true, time does heal. `You will smile again, you will have happy days and you will go on with your life. However, you will never forget your precious pet...and you shouldn't. It took about a month for me to come around. I was really out of it. Every time someone gave me their condolence, I would think about her and cry. I knew that I had to pull myself out of the depression that was slowly creeping up on me. I continued with my daily activities and started giving Domino a lot of attention. The first week after she passed, I would dream about her every night. They would be fun filled dreams with her running and chasing Domino. I would only awaken to realize that she was no longer with me.

The companion left behind

Domino is 2 years younger than Sugar. She was full grown when I got him at about 6 weeks old. She was just like a little momma. She taught him all of her sneaky little begging tricks...and he learned well! A couple of days after she passed he started sniffing around the house and crying a lot. I did not know what to do and called my vet because he started chewing on his leg. I took him in and he explained that he knew she was gone...but did not understand where. You can not explain to a dog that his mate has died. It was touch and go for a few months with him constantly sniffing and looking. He then became very quite no more playing, no barking. My vet said that with time he would get better...and he did. Now he is the boss! I gave him a stuffed dogie to sleep with him and it has helped. We allowed him to sleep in our bed for about 2 weeks after her death. I don't know if it was to comfort me or him.

Should you get another dog?

That decision is strickley up to you. We plan on getting another dog in the future. However, we will be getting a shelter dog. We want to give a good home to a dog in need. It will be a hard choice because I am allergic to dogs. I picked the shih-tzu breed because they don't shed. I will be checking the shih-tzu rescue sites when I am ready to adopt.

Thank you for taking the time to  read my story. I hope that some of this information will help you. I found this great website a couple of days before Sugar passed. It is called Dognamic, and it is like a myspace or facebook for dogs.This really helped me while in my greving process. The people were all so concerned and shared their stories. I loved receiving the emails for Domino from other doggies that had lost their mates. I am still a member. Here is the link to my web page: http://dognamic.com/SugarandDomino. If you click on the picture of Sugar in the upper corner you can read my story. You can also join at:http://dognamic.com

May god bless you and your pet!

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