A bit of a different and tough topic this week, but one we as dog owners all go through at some stage in our lives. The goodbye.

This is by far the hardest part of owning a dog. Harder than toilet training, recall training you name it, it’s harder. However it is more often than not the most loving thing we can also do for our dogs.

One quote that always sticks in my mind is that dogs are a small part of our lives but we are all of theirs. This resonates with me as I truly (maybe selfishly) believe that my dogs lives revolve around me, when I’m getting up, when I’m coming home, when we are going to play, train etc. Whilst, yes they do other things that don’t necessarily involve me they will always choose to be with me if they can. Because of this I feel I owe it to them to be the best owner/companion I can be.

I don’t mean this is a spoiling them kind of way but they get dedicated time where I am not preoccupied and we have FUN! Enjoy your dogs, whether its walking, training, competitions or just chilling out at home together. In my mind there is absolutely no point in getting a dog if you rarely see it and actually its a bit of an inconvenience to your already busy life.

old dog

Never compare your dogs with previous dogs you’ve had, they are all different and unique in their own special ways. Spend time bonding and find out what makes each one special – that’s the fun bit.

The sad truth – the goodbye

Unfortunately despite the leaps and bounds made in veterinary science and medicine our dogs just don’t live forever – a sad but inevitable truth. This is where it gets super tough as an owner. I have just witnessed by friend go through this very ordeal. In some dogs their decline into illness is very slow and in others very rapid. Sometimes tragic accidents take the choice away from us but it is generally down to us as owner when to call time on our beloved dogs life.

You may make a clear decision in your head after a horrid day of watching your poor friend struggle and then be greeted the next day by your old pal as if someone has given them the exlir of life. This makes the choice harder as you see glimpses of joy and happiness but know deep down your old friend is fading and their body is letting them down.

In times like this, don’t struggle with the decision alone. Talk to your vet and friends and family, that whilst only you can decide people can support you in your decision.

Remember only you see your dog every day and night and know the secret struggles they go through. Whilst I am not advocating putting a healthy dog down, I do agree with the mantra – “Better a day too early, than a day too late”

putting my dog down

It truly is the kindness thing we can do for our dogs when they reach this point in their lives. We have the power to prevent them suffering in pain in bodies they are unable to support. Although this comes with lots of feelings that are hard to accept like guilt, relief, sadness and many more. Don’t keep this bottled up.

What are your options when you have made the decision to put your dog to sleep?

Depending on circumstance you will usually have time to decide what happens with your dog when the time comes.

Whatever you do is all personal preference and no one can judge you for your choice.

You can take your dog to the vets to be put to sleep where you have the choice to stay or go. Again I stress that you need to do what’s right for you but I would always want to be there for my dog till then end. When dogs are put down at the vets, you then generally have the choice to take your dog home for burial or have them cremated by a local crematorium which the vets will generally arrange for you.

Bare in mind you may not always live where you live now and may find it hard to leave your beloved dog buried in the garden so cremation may be a better option if this is the case.

When shall I put my dog down

The other option is that you opt for the vet to make a home visit to put your friend to sleep where they are most comfortable. This comes at extra cost and if it is a feasible option is always what I would pick.

This enables your dog to be put to sleep with friends and family around where they feel safe and whilst it is never easy it offers some comfort knowing our dog experienced no unnecessary stress. This may also be a good option if you have multiple dogs as they are able to see the lost dog and have an opportunity to process events rather than a member of the family just going missing.

I have even heard of some people having their dogs put to sleep in their favourite place like a woodland or beach.

Whatever you do and how you say goodbye has to be right for you, your dog and your family.

How long will I feel like this?

Grief effects everyone totally differently, and that is absolutely normal. Dogs are a big part of our lives and we often go through big life events with them, so it is only natural you are going to grieve.

Talk to people about how you are feeling and don’t bottle it up. Many dog insurance companies now offer grief counselling to owners who have lost a dog. These are great to have an opportunity to talk to someone that understands and can listen. The Blue Cross also offer a pet bereavement service.

Remember the good times, all the enjoyment you had together and the things you experienced.

You may eventually want to get another dog and you should not feel guilty about this, the new dog will never replace your old dog but will add new memories to your bank.

You can also have momentos made from their ashes, fur or collars to cherish. Poppy’s Paws

grieving a dog

I didn’t write this piece to put people off dog ownership but just to raise awareness of something we never really think about until we are forced to. Owning a dog is one of the most rewarding things you can do if you dedicate the time and commitment to them. Saying goodbye is a small piece of the journey but one you need to be aware and ready for when the time comes.

I also feel like I want to take this opportunity to thank Highcliff Veterinary Practice in Hadleigh, Suffolk who came out and gave the most dignified end to Beanie my friend’s dog, and to the Suffolk Pet Crematorium who looked after him and had him home again the next day.

Beanie – 2011-2023

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