I’m no stranger to losing a pet. From my childhood dog to 3 of my cats, losing your beloved pet is a difficult experience to handle.
But nothing has been harder than recently losing my best friend, my dog Buddy. I’ve been grieving since he was euthanized for non-stop seizures.
This article is my way to remember him and talk about how amazing he was. May this also help anyone else grieving the loss of their pet.
Losing a pet: grieving the loss of a pet after euthanasia
It has been 11 days since I had to put my dog to sleep.
I’m better than the first few days after losing him, but I am far from okay. Not having him in my life has left a hole in my heart and I’ll never be the same.
I sometimes look to the right of me on my couch and expect to see him there. It was raining last night and for a moment I thought I heard him drinking from his water bowl.
The words that best describe my feelings right now are loneliness and sadness.
Over the weekend before I lost him, I took Buddy for some long walks. He enjoyed the walks but then he always enjoyed being with me. I never left him alone for more than 5 hours the entire time I was blessed to have him in my life.
Losing my dog and my best friend at the same time
What can I say? He was more than just my dog. He truly was my best and only true friend. How can you deal with something like that?
I took him camping with me every year to Assateague Island in Maryland, Although he absolutely hated being in a car, he did love the outdoors. But then, what dog doesn’t love roaming around outside and smelling everything that they can.
Even though I would bring a beach blanket for him, he would always lay directly on the sand. He would constantly get sand on his lips and nose. It’s too bad I never got a photo of that.
I have a camping trip to Assateague scheduled in early October and I’m not sure if I want to go without him. But that is a few months away, and I’ll make that decision when the date approaches.
A little about my dog Buddy and why he was so special
Let me share the best things I remember about him:
- He was extremely friendly to dogs and people, but he seemed to prefer people.
- He was great with my cats, especially my cat Little Rascal who would follow him throughout my place.
- I would put blankets on my couch because of his skin condition (he was smelly), but he would always push them onto the floor. Thanks, dude!
- He had an extremely powerful tail. It would hurt if he hit you in the leg with it. Everyone would remark how much it hurt.
- One time he hit my cat Charlie with his tail and that was a mistake. She swiped at him and she was not declawed. After that, when Queen Charlie would walk down the hallway, he would get scared and move out of her way. He was so gentle and wouldn’t harm anyone or anything.
- A few years ago he got attacked by another Staffordshire Terrier. The dog sunk its teeth into his shoulder. He never cried out the whole time that I and the owner were beating the other dog. I finally pushed my thumbs into the dog’s throat which got him to release his bite from my dog. I’m sure he was looking up at me the whole time to help him.
- Over a year after the attack, we met a woman and her dog. The woman remarked, “Look, your dog is looking at you to see if it is okay to meet my dog”. He wanted me to assure him that it was okay, that he would be safe. I feel so bad that I hadn’t noticed that much earlier. After that, I would always tell him “It’s okay”.
They are the main wonderful traits and behaviors of Buddy. He was also a darn good looking boy!
When to put your dog down
When it comes to when YOU should put your dog down, the answer is I don’t know. I don’t know your dog, his\her health condition or your financial situation, I can only share my story. You’ll have to figure out when the time is right for your dog, but I believe you will now when.
Around 5:00 PM on Monday, June 10th, my dog Buddy would not stop scratching. I yelled at him to stop which made him go lie down on the couch in the backroom. I feel like a monster yelling at him a day before he died – I’m so sorry Buddy.
For the last 5-6 years, he has had a horrible skin condition. Five different vets couldn’t identify the problem but steroids, antibiotics, and antibacterial medicines always made him better. But it only took a few months until the skin issues reappeared.
Prolonged steroid use is a problem, so a new vet suggested just the antibiotics and antibacterial medicine. That was mid-April of this year. He looked good by the time the pills ran out.
Once his medicine was gone I was supposed to schedule another appointment for a reevaluation and refills of the prescriptions. But then my cat Little Rascal started showing problems. He started eating voraciously, then he stopped eating altogether.
I took Little rascal to the vet on May 10th and then again the following day when I had to euthanize him. He had a massive growth near his abdomen (he was only 8 years old). Little Rascal loved my dog.
Little Rascal’s vet visits left me very short on funds. That prevented me from scheduling a vet appointment to refill Buddy’s prescriptions. I think the lack of steroids is what enabled the bacterial and fungal affections to either go to his brain or into his blood causing the seizures.
I didn’t know that the skin condition that he had for the past 5 years could create the seizures. But it was my lack of money that may have resulted in his death because I did not renew the prescriptions for him. I don’t know if I can ever forgive myself for that.
His final hours
So at approximately 5:30 I heard a ruckus in the backroom. I went to take a look at what Buddy was doing and I saw that he had fallen off the couch and was having a major seizure. It seemed to last for many minutes and I did all I could to prevent him from hurting himself. It was a terrifying experience.
A former dog walking client of mine gave me a ride to the vet. He actually helped carry Buddy up the steps to the entrance. After their initial check of him, they gave me some pills to hopefully stop the seizures.
I decided to walk him home but it was difficult going. He kept turning his head to the right and then pulling to the right. It was like he just suffered a stroke. The same rhythmic looking to the right and then pulling to the right. It was not like he wanted to go right, but that he involuntarily kept turning that way. I can’t explain it any better than that.
He ended up vomiting his night meal along with the pill. I grabbed what was left of the pill and put it in his mouth though he resisted.
But he kept having seizures. I gave him another pill in the middle of the night but the seizures wouldn’t stop. It was horrible to see him go through that and I knew what it meant, though I still hoped the pills would help.
From late night to the end
He kept stumbling into things between seizures, so I locked him in the backroom and safety proofed the area. I couldn’t bear seeing him that way. He was walking in circles, crashing into every object and other strange behaviors.
Then I tried to get some sleep, though I only slept a few hours. At about sunrise, I noticed that he had not moved from a particular spot in the backroom. He wasn’t walking around anymore, instead, he was just laying on the floor either having more seizures or constantly shaking.
The sequence of events was a major seizure, then a short break in seizures, then more seizures, then stroke-like behavior, vomiting his meal, then constant seizures followed by total confusion, and finally immobility.
I didn’t see him getting better when he seemed to just be getting worse. It was time to put my dog to sleep – to end his suffering.
I got a ride from another client to the vet and I had to carry Buddy from my place to the car, and then again into the vet.
I was with him when his suffering ended. It was about noon on Tuesday, June 4th. He was somewhere between 10 and 11 years old but I know he had a few years left in him at least.
When should you put your dog down? You’ll know when.
You will know when the time is right but hopefully not by experiencing what I experienced. And hopefully, not having your dog experience what my dog did in the last 18 hours of his life.
The Rainbow Bridge poem
It was either after when my cat Charlie died or when Squeaks died that I was searching for something about coping with the loss of a pet. That is when I found a website with the Rainbow Bridge poem. I lost it when I first read it. Here is it:
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water, and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
The author is unknown so feel free to copy the text and paste it into a word document if you want. You go read it when you are thinking of the pet you lost. And if the pet you lost was a female, then you can change the words “his” and “he” in the 3rd paragraph to “her” and “she”.
Sources of help and suggested rituals
If the rainbow bridge poem does not console you after losing a pet, then here are some resources and ideas that might.
You could do an online search for “pet loss support group near me” to see if there are any support groups in your area. Also try “pet grief counseling near me”, “pet grief support group near me”, “pet loss counseling near me” and other similar search terms.
Or you could try some of the things that I did.
First: Try writing down all you can about the pet that you lost. I believe writing in such a situation is very therapeutic. Plus it will record things that you may forget as time goes by.
Second: I meditated with a white candle and a photo of Buddy and thought only about him and the things we experienced together.
Third: Print any or all of the photos of your pet. I go thru my photo album to look at Squeaks and Charlie. I’ll be adding images of Little Rascal and Buddy to that album, and I’ll put their photos next to each other since they were so close.
Fourth: Reenact your favorite activities that you did with the pet you lost. My ritual is in the final section below.
What I’ve learned after losing a pet and how I am now
I’ve learned that I will not adopt any other pets until my financial situation is such that I will always be able to provide for their medical needs.
How am I now? Far from okay.
In general, the longest walks for Buddy were his night walks around 6:30 PM. He had a handful of places that were his favorites.
His absolute favorite was the little park near the pet store because he knew I would often take him to the store. He loved walking down the aisle that had the rawhide and bones. I can’t believe he never just bit into one and started chewing.
Here is the ritual I am doing now. Since he was euthanized, many nights I have taken a walk to his favorite spots and always with his collar either in my pocket or in my hand.
I’m sure life will get in the way sometimes, but I have no intention of ever stopping those walks and always with his collar with me.
And I’m trying to change my thoughts, words, and actions to be more like him since in so many ways he was better than me. I’m, going to start asking myself some questions as I go through each day:
“What would Buddy do?”
“How would Buddy feel?”
If I can model myself after my dog then I’ll end up becoming the best version of myself.
I love and miss you Buddy and I’m sorry for everything. Sorry for not being able to save you and sorry for not always treating you the way that you deserved. Please forgive me!
I’ll talk to you tonight Buddy – when we go on our night walk.