COPING WITH THE LOSS OF YOUR GREYHOUND
Greyhounds enrich our lives in so many ways, but it’s part of the contract that we will lose them. It’s very important to process our feelings of loss, so that we eventually become able to welcome a new dog into our lives, never replacing the ones that went before, but to fill a new corner of our hearts. Remember, your love is felt by your pets even after they pass.
Following the loss of a cherished companion, we need to allow ourselves to experience feelings of pain and sorrow. Because of the unique emotional relationships we have with our pets, their deaths produce a level of pain that is difficult to describe. Some people in your regular circle may not fully understand what you are going through. Many people try and minimize the trauma of losing a pet, exclaiming “it was just a dog”. First and foremost, you need to understand that you have to right to grieve. All death is traumatic, and people deal with the residual grief in different ways. While this is normal, there are a few things you can do to ease the pain and deal with grief.
ADDRESS FEELINGS OF GUILT
When it comes to euthanasia, many Greyhound owners struggle with feelings of guilt after the procedure. Rest assured that you are not alone in this journey and at the end of the day you are doing what is best for your pet. While many people hope their pet will pass quietly in his sleep, it may not happen that way. As an owner, you may need to face the possibility of euthanasia. However, you must rest assured that you are/were acting in your pets best interest. In fact, many veterinary experts believe that you should look at it like the final gift you are giving your dear pet. Don’t ever second-guess your decision – you made the best decision you could at the time.
TALK IT OUT
At a basic human level, people crave the advice and aid of other people in times of need. The best thing you can do is find people you can talk to about your pet - whether you confide in a friend, spouse, or a pet grief support group, do not skip this important step in the grieving process. Be sure not only to talk about how hard it was towards the end, instead, focus on the good times and memories you had together. By remembering the pleasure of those times, you can realize that your dog was worthy of your sense of loss. After all, he was your best friend.
You could join a grief group on Facebook or other social media platform. Search “Pet Loss Support Group”. Sharing feelings, memories and photos with others going through the same thing is very comforting. You could have the opportunity to help someone else who is hurting too, which would also make you feel better.
TAKE YOUR TIME
Remember, grief is a process. It’s important to go at your own pace. Deal with your grief as long as you need to, and don’t feel rushed to “get over” your sorrow. Everyone’s grief is an individual process. We are all unique in a myriad of ways, and how we individually deal with grief is no different. It is vital to go at your own pace when coping with the loss of your pet. If leaving your dog’s old bed out for a little while brings you comfort, do it!
Many pet owners find comfort in donating their fallen pet’s old toys, food, leashes, or crates to the Humane Society or local animal shelter after a suitable period of time. This is good for two reasons. One, your donation can help dozens of animals in need. Second, this helps you start fresh with a clean slate. When you decide to get a new pet, experts recommend getting new gear specific to your new pet. That way, you feel less like you are trying to replace something you have lost.
Better yet, try fostering or volunteering at your local animal shelter. Helping nourish and care for animals in need can work wonders on a wounded soul.
IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN
If you have children, they feel the loss deeply, too. Reassure them that sorrow and grief are normal, natural responses to death. Allow them to talk as much as they need to about their sadness. Experts say that honesty is always key. Answer any questions that they may have. Kids need to feel that their parents are clear and open from the beginning. Every child will process this event differently, and this can take a while, so be patient and gentle.
Giving them the opportunity to do something physically sometimes helps kids work through their pain. Have a burial ceremony: let your child be part of the process. Place a favorite toy at the grave. Or if you had your Greyhound cremated, spread the ashes in a meaningful location that your dog loved. You could create a scrapbook of mementos, or watch a family movie together, or read a book about pet loss. Find suggestions here: < link to blog about kids and grief> Some people even make a shrine. Some vets or pet services include taking paw prints and nose prints.
Children can draw a picture, write a letter to the pet, make a clay paw print or release a balloon into the sky for their special friend. To make this particular decision easier for the family, sit all the members down and ask for ideas. This way, you all will be able to do something to your liking with regard to keeping your dog’s memory alive.
CREATE A MEMORIAL
From shadowboxes housing cherished photos to jewelry and ornaments, there is no end to the ways your cherished Greyhound can live on in your home and your heart. While no physical token can fully fill the furry void in your home, many dog owners find comfort in memorializing and honoring their beloved pet.
Furthermore, memorials can go beyond the memento variety. In fact, many pet owners get creative and plant a memorial tree or garden. This is an especially delightful way to honor your pet because you get to see life flourish and grow in their memory.
IF YOU HAVE OTHER DOGS
Just like with humans, no two dogs are alike and neither are their responses to death and loss. Some may show signs of physical sadness, while others may display symptoms of negative behavior, and some may not show any sign of emotional suffering at all. Mourning may lead to a loss in appetite, lowered water intake, sluggish response to humans and other pets, a loss of interest in play or physical activity, and even a mournful howl here and there. The symptoms can also increase gradually over weeks or months. If you’ve noticed these symptoms in your pet, it’s best to get the dog to a vet as soon as possible to rule out any potential physical illness.
Maintaining a normal routine for your pet, such as maintaining a familiar eating time or playtime, is the best way to help with the transitional process. Take a tip from animals that live in the wild. They don’t have as much time to grieve as domesticated animals, “they have to move on pretty quickly, to suck it up and keep going, just like some of us must do,” anthropologist and author Elizabeth Marshall Thomas says. “This doesn’t mean that grief isn’t still with them, just that they can’t do much about it.”
In the case of an extremely depressed dog, you can also add more playtime to your dog’s normal routine to raise serotonin levels, which may have a positive impact on your dog’s behavior.
The loss of a pet is a significant event for people of all ages. Your Greyhound provided a loving presence in your home for years. The topic of euthanasia and the end of the road is not an easy one, but it is essential to know how to deal with the inevitable. It is important to remember that every pet is unique, and it is up to you when and if euthanasia is the right option for your family. Losing a beloved furry member of your family is never easy.
Difficult though it may be, be open to feelings of grief when they occur and take the time to work through your sorrow. And, be comforted in the thought that there will come a day when your dear one comes to mind with fond memories and love. Remember that life is a circle and true love forever.