We’ve talked about all the fun and good things about having pets in our lives. Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad. We don’t like to think about it, but the reality is the time comes when we have to make that tough decision and say goodbye.
Years go by so fast. One minute you have a rambunctious youngster in your life and the next time you look it has slowed down and sleeps a lot.
Situations arise, illnesses present themselves and years just simply take a toll on our four-legged friends. Some issues can be controlled with medications, some with rest and some will heal with time. The issues that are most concerning to us are those that medication and time cannot heal.
Most likely you will have a good 10 years or more with your pet, depending on the breed and size of your companion, which usually denotes its average life expectancy. My little Chihuahua has an expectancy of approximately 17 years. My Siamese are noted for being the longest lived cats, and they average well into their 20s. Unfortunately, my son’s mastiff doesn’t have a long life expectancy. The breed averages only about 8 to 10 years. She will be turning 6 this year, so she is well into her senior years, though you would never know it. She still thinks she is a small, young lap dog…NOT!
The pain of losing our beloved companions is beyond measure. It is similar to the feelings we have when we lose a human family member. People who don’t own a pet cannot understand this and usually think we are being foolish for feeling this way and just want us to “get over it.” This is so far from the truth, and one should never feel embarrassed or ashamed for mourning the loss of a pet. In fact, going through the mourning process is exactly what we need to heal. Accept the sad feelings, and don’t be afraid to remember all the good times.
When my former pet dog, Lyndsey, passed away after being my constant companion for 14 years, I was devastated. I had to do something as a remembrance. I made a memory box in her honor. The top cover held a few favorite pictures, and inside I saved a piece of her bed, her tennis ball that she loved so much, her collar and tags, brush, license and all the sympathy cards that friends and family sent. And poems like “Rainbow Bridge” that I still read over and over. It meant a great deal to me to get those sympathy cards, because it showed that everyone knew how much she meant to me and also showed me she meant something to the people she met along the way. So reach out to your family and friends when they are going through the loss of a pet.
Don’t let the heartbreak of a loss stop you from getting another pet. When the time is right, you will know when, start looking for another companion. Try not to compare your new pet with the one you lost. Each will be different, and each will give you what you need at the time.
I finally adopted a dog after being without one for many years. The time was right for me, and so was little Pita. She is a totally different dog all together, but I love her with all my heart and never, ever compare her to the dog I lost.
The biggest lesson I learned when my dog was gone was that time passes too quickly, and we have to make the most of each and every day.
If you have more than one pet and one gets sick and passes away, the other may go into depression. Spend extra time with the pet that remain, which is also in mourning, and together you will get through this.
Getting your pet a new companion may be the answer to their loneliness. Only you know your pet well enough to know if this is true.
If you think this would help you and your pet heal, visit some shelters, and if you find an animal that you think would be a good companion for your pet, make an appointment to bring your pet for a play date. Your current pet will know if it has found a new friend.
We have dogs and cats at our shelter that attach themselves to a favorite friend. Some may not get along with others in general but for some reason they do with a particular one. Don’t give up if you don’t find a good match quickly. It may take many visits to shelters to find the perfect friend, but have fun while looking. The shelter animals will certainly enjoy your visits and attention.
Remember, death is a part of life. Don’t ever avoid attachment because you are afraid of heartbreak. Because of love, we feel pain. Savor the time you and your pets have together, and in the end they will know they were truly loved.