Pet Grief

It is 5 months since my husband, and I had to make the difficult decision of having our dog put to sleep.  Even writing these words makes my heart ache and tears well up.  Our dog Cherry was a chocolate Labrador.  She came to our home when she was 5 and a retired gun dog.  She quickly fitted into our home.  Cherry was part of our family for 9 years.  We hardly had a day apart over the 9 years.  We took UK holidays instead of going abroad as we didn’t like the idea of her staying in a kennel.  She was the gentlest soul that I have ever met and gave unconditional love. 

Her last year was difficult and it was hard seeing her struggle to walk, go to the toilet and to eat.  We were then told in June 2019 that she had liver and kidney failure.  The vets could not tell us how long she would have.  Then on 23rd September 2019 we woke to Cherry crying in pain and having a fit.  She had lost the ability to pick up her back legs.  We both agreed that this was the day that we would have to say goodbye.   The vets came to our home and was so gentle with her.  She peacefully passed away in her bed.

But that is where my peace ended.  I was totally heart broken.  It felt like someone had ripped my heart out.  I could not stop crying and felt a huge weight in my chest.  I walked around in a daze.  I kept getting flash backs of Cherry being carried out of the home by the vets.  I would be racked with guilt, wondering did we do the right thing?  The house seemed so empty and quiet without her.  I felt restless and often went on long walks to clear my head.  Seeing clients helped distract me and focus on their worlds and not have to think about my own.  Bedtimes were the worse as I could no longer hear Cherry’s gentle snoring.

People have asked us if we will get another dog.  At the moment, we are not ready.  Cherry still feels so present in our lives.  However, we are sponsoring a dog through Guide Dogs for the Blind.  We get regular pupdates which is nice to receive and feels good to support another dog in a different type of way.

So why am I writing about this in a blog on my counselling website?

I wanted to write that grief takes many forms and we mourn in different ways.  There are no wrong ways to grieve and no fixed time period either.  However, there are times when it is a good to get some extra support.  To have someone walk alongside you in your grief.  As a bereavement counsellor for the past 10 years I have been a witness to how people mourn, and to give them permission to mourn and help celebrate the person or pet they deeply loved.