Friday, November 2, 2012

Grieving the Loss of a Pet

This post is dedicated in memory of my Weimaraner, Sally, I just had to put to sleep in the last week. I looked all over the internet for inspiring pet words and poems, and they were everywhere. The thing I didn't find as easily was advice to adults losing their first pet. Many times, people experience the loss of a pet as a child. I am nearly in my late 20's and this was by far the most heartbreaking thing I have experienced other than the death of a person.

I knew she was old, and that her time to leave us would be in the near future. I had convinced myself in the past few months that I was ready for her to go. I believed that I knew I gave her a good life and that she would be in no more pain. All these things sounded good, but once the time actually came it was much harder.

Luckily for me, and her, it wasn't something I had to think about long because I noticed a very rapid change within hours and knew if I didn't want her to suffer that I would have to take the step to help her along. I was completely convinced that I would not make that choice. I very much wanted her to go peacefully in her sleep while at home, but if you knew her you would know she would have hung on beyond any comfort just to stay with me.

I put her needs before my own emotional needs and decided that this was the one last way I could do right by her. I had thought about this in the past but decided I could "never" do it because it wasn't natural. Well, others had told me this, but until it happened to me I didn't believe it-you just know when it is really time.

The process was much more dignified and peaceful than I would have imagined. Without going into specifics, the actual process was only minutes. They allowed me and my husband as much time as we needed with her to say goodbye and allowed us to stay with her during the whole process. I will soon receive her ashes, her paw prints, and some of her hair as physical symbolic ways to remember her.

I am so grateful she chose me to be her "Alfa-dog", and that she loved me unconditionally. I would never change the fact that I was with her all the way to the end. Cliche or not, I will always carry her around in my heart. Not only will I always carry her around in my heart, but I will always walk with her too...after I get the tattoo I customized to honor her to the right. I plan to get it on the side of my heel. Sadly, I also thought ahead to a way I can add on to the design I made for her to include my other pets when it is time.

I haven't cried so much as an adult over much else, but she was such a common and "comfortable" part of my life that I didn't realize the things I would miss about her once she was gone. It is so quiet without her, and there are many things that I had built into my routine that I no longer have to do. The worst thing is that I still wait to hear her bark to come back in while I get dressed and I still expect for her to be at the door when I arrive back home.

I really believe that it IS ok for adults to cry, and share their pet stories with others. I have found great comfort in the last several days sharing some stories about Sally with them. this includes things that make me laugh remembering them, things that she did that drove me crazy, and the story about how I made the decision to take her to the vet to have her put down. Talking things through with others has helped me validate that I did the right thing and that I know I did right by her!

I will miss you girl!
Sally a.k.a Salsa, Salsie-Pie, Big Girl, Sals, Salsie


  1. So sorry for your loss. I dread every day that my weim Tobey gets older

    1. I understand that feeling. I think I went about the last two years of Sally's life wondering if she would still be ok when I got home! I enjoy every day like it's the last with my pets and friends and family!
      -Stephanie Stepford

  2. I found your site as our 17 year cat died this past Wednesday. I had to tell my wife over the phone our baby died while at the vet ...I had brought her in late on Monday for she just looked bad. Our cat's name was Sally like your dog. I am 46 and my first loss of a pet and I am so heartbroken. I type this as I wait for my wife to get home from her trip tonight as she has been out of town this week...coming home to no Sally. This will be a tough weekend as our Sally was definitely like a child to my you said the little things I have noticed so much...the house feels empty and I miss my wife so much as I can see the two of them together...tonight is not going to be easy...I appreciate your post so much...thanks ewell

  3. I'm so sorry that you had to deal with such an unfortunate situation apart from your spouse. That certainly would add to the complete unpleasantness of the entire ordeal. Almost a month later I still almost call her name to see if she will appear. I hope you and your wife are able to remember all the best times you had with your cat, that certainly has helped me with my Sally!
    -Stephanie Stepford


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