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What Dog Parents Really Need When a Dog Dies

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The passing of a beloved dog is one of the most harrowing and upsetting losses a dog parent will ever experience: This I know from first-hand knowledge.  There are things dog parents really need when a dog dies: Compassion, love, and someone to truly understand and be there for them.

The death of a dog is something we all will face and yet it is a topic I dread writing about. As someone who is heavily ensconced in the pet industry, I know a lot of pet parents. This means I hear of losses on a weekly basis. I am reminded of my own deep pain and forever sadness etched across my heart when I learn of the passing of a precious canine family member.

I tried many things when my last Cocker Spaniel, Brandy Noel, passed away.  If you’ve ever loved and lost a precious pet, be sure to check out my “Anatomy of a Grieving Dog Mom” post.  The suitcase I carry with me changes in size but never disappears. You’ll understand that more after reading that post.

Here’s what happened when Brandy Noel died: Anatomy of a Grieving Dog Mom


I froze. My entire world felt like it had been ripped from the inside of my chest, arms, legs, head, and every other section of my body. It felt as if my world was then stepped on and I was tossed away. I was lost and in a state of shock.

I completely and utterly was in denial in addition to my shock. I couldn’t sleep in the same bed I shared with her. I couldn’t look at photographs. And I couldn’t breathe. It was overwhelming unlike anything I had ever experienced.

I sought the help of a grief counselor, an online support group, and ultimately and eventually I had to accept  —but never ever ever condone—the fact that until I saw her in the next life, my little girl was not coming home.

I wanted the pain to go away because I could not move forward without her. I could not believe despite knowing I was losing my little girl that I was now a forever carrier of this excruciating pain.

How I wish I knew someone like Margot Ahlquist back when my dog died. Margot Ahlquist is the creator of Paws to Talk, which started as an advice blog and has grown into a life coaching business. I found out in recent months about Margot’s “How to Cope with the Loss Of Your Dog in 21 Days” journey and kit.


The program comes with a workbook, daily healing exercises available through audio activation online, and a unisex bracelet with a matching memorial dog tag.

No, it does not take 21 days to heal and “get over” the loss of a dog. In fact, to this day I am not over the loss and I never will be. Any dog I share my life with becomes a part of me, and if you feel this way about your dog(s), you are a tried and true dog parent. Margot’s journey kit is designed to help you cope and have a soft place to fall when the loss of your best friend happens.

Because I know so many folks who have pets and who have or will experience loss, this is something I feel very passionate in sharing.

bracelet charm

The journey kit is beautifully packed, and perhaps you know someone, even yourself, who would benefit from the program.

We are giving away one Paws to Talk Journey Kit and all you need to do is reply in the comments below with the name of a dog you love, past or present.

On Saturday, we’ll randomly select the name of a person and have a kit mailed out to you by Margot. U.S. and Canada eligible. Official rules here.



Fidose of Reality staff and their families are not eligible to win. One entry per person, please.

You can learn more about the kit and order one here, as well:

This is not an easy topic to approach, but one that we hold near and dear to our hearts.

Here are dozens of pet bloggers who, no doubt, share a bond with their pets. Check them out for this blog hop:

Note: We were not compensated to share this post. We believe in sharing products and services we feel would benefit Fidose of Reality readers. 

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  1. What a difficult thing to write about and I don’t quite know what to say in a comment. I have had family dogs pass on but not a dog that was truly mine. I dread the day when it happens because I spend every moment at home with my dog Chowski!

    I’ve just lost my father, actually and it’s hard saying goodbye to anyone in your life – furry or not furry! :'(

  2. Only a pet parent truly understands the devastation of losing a furry beloved member of the family. I carry too many in my heart to choose just one. They all still hurt.
    *On a brighter subject, I received my bag and it is fabulous!! Thanks again ♥

  3. A scary subject that hopefully we won’t have to deal with for a while, but you never know. Losing Trine, Mom’s first dog was tough, and she is still dealing with it over ten years later.

  4. Lost several dogs as a child and my parents were not the type who believed you should grieve for a dog as you do for a human so the process was challenging. Those dogs were every bit as close to me as kids I saw at school for a few hours each day.

    I really don’t believe it would be easier to lose Katy or Bailey. Each is going to be brutal and hard. They have woven their way into our hearts and when they pass it will hurt in a very unique and personal way. I would like to enter this contest because I know the day will come.

  5. Returning to the park after our absence we have since learned of two pals that went OTRB. Its almost as bad as losing your own dog and we can only imagine what their dog parents are going through. Thanks for the beautiful post. Love Dolly

  6. The pain of losing my Marty and the anticipatory pain of seeing my Bella get older and knowing she is near the end of her life will never fully leave. However, I got over my own depression over losing my dog by feeling connected to others. I hope to help other dog parents feel as though they are not alone during this tough life change through the product.

  7. Still grieving the loss of my beloved Hector nearly three years later. August 28th will be the anniversary. His death was unexpected and sudden, just one week before his 10th birthday. I still hurt all day, every day, missing him and the guilt eats me up inside — “If only I had ____________.” There is a song by my favorite musician, Tori Amos, that came out about a month after Hector died. The chorus goes, “Your name is sung and tattooed on my heart; Here I will carry you, forever.” I felt, and still feel, that song was for me to help me get through the death of my dog. I adopted two more hounds just like him, in his memory, a few months after he died. Not to replace him, but because I had the time and resources and wanted to do something in his honor and help two dogs who needed a home. Thanks for letting me share. K2

  8. Thank you for this post. Just the other day, I was talking about my first Golden Girl, Abby, who went to the rainbow bridge more than 12 years ago. Though my suitcase is smaller, I still felt a pang in my heart, a catch in my throat, and a couple of tears. You just never completely “get over” it. You live with it and eventually get to the point where you are able to recall stories without feeling so terribly sad and are instead happy about all the blessed memories you have of them. -Rachael @MyDogLikes

  9. What a touching article. I felt your pain. I don’t know how I will deal when my baby Cody passes. He is my heart.

  10. We lost our Cocker Spaniel,Riley almost 16 months ago to cancer.I will never get over having to lose Riley …he will always be with me even though I now have this little tri-colored Cocker named Beauregard who has captured my heart too.

  11. I’ve lost many special dogs in my life, but the most difficult by far was Brooks. I just think of looking into his eyes, which held such depth and wisdom, and I melt. We adopted him when he was 12, and only had him for a year, but he made the most impact on my life.

  12. I am fighting a return of osteo in my tripawd greyhound Sunfire. She is the alpha and founding member of our pack, and she has taught us so much. She is very healthy and happy right now but we know what we are up against and I am just not ready yet. She is 10, and we have had a happy 9.5 months since amputation last fall, but recently found a possible single met on her lungs that we have to monitor.

  13. My 16 year old beagle, Sweetpea, passed away 11 years ago. She was my first baby, and superseded my husband (my family adopted her when I was 14 years old). She passed away when my son was only one month old. In my heart, I believe she waited until after she met her newborn brother before passing. I love her and miss her to this day.

  14. I, unfortunately, can relate. Our Rascal has been gone almost 8 yrs and I still have days that I miss my boy. We’re under 2 yrs for the loss of our Libby, such a young dog (6 yrs) to be gone. The grief is always there. And once again, Carol, you brought tears to my eyes. Our lives are richer for having had them.

  15. Your post could not have been better timed… I will be putting down our 16yr old Newfie X Flat-Coat Retriever this weekend with great remorse and relief ironically. Here is our story:
    The burden weighs heavily on my heart and I question if its time. My mind knows it is and all the signs are there, but my heart doesn’t want to let go. Is there something we’ve missed, what else can we try, can she bounce back from this..??… the what-if’s are endless. There is only one sure thing and that is she is starving herself and now weighs less than 40lbs. She barely walks and falls because the energy and nutrition are not there. A day without food and she’s a rack of bones. Any attempt to keep food down is a struggle as her body rejects the formula and food.
    After many attempts to have her eat, from literally all the products on the market for cats and dogs (some not even out yet on the market but provided via store managers and distributors trying to help us), human food both raw and cooked and our last resort syringe feedings, all have failed and she’s rapidly declined.
    You see, Lupe has congenital heart disease and severe tooth decay. She did not respond to antibiotics (they made her more ill) and she was not a suitable candidate for any surgery. She began to rapidly lose weight within months of not eating consitantly… After trying LITERALLY everything… From raw, freeze-dry, canned wet (dog and cat food) to satin balls, ground beef, human grade steak, chicken, pork, all the grains ( rice, potatoes, quinoa, bread) pumpkin etc, bacon, cheese and even hot dogs and Dog-sure … we’ve gained no progress.
    There are fleeting moments where she seems to come back to us (she’s a fighter). However 99% of the time it breaks my heart to see her losing this battle. We will let her go with her dignity in tacked, unlike nature’s cruel ways. It’s her time and there is nothing nature will let us do to extend her life here in this realm. Her last moments will be spent outdoors in our garden where she enjoyed the warm rays of the sun, the crisp breeze of the wind and the sounds of the birds and leaves rustling.
    I cannot be guilty for the relief I will feel when she is gone; for some this may sound absurd. I do not see it as her as leaving us. Her body will return to Nature. With every warm ray that touches our face, every breath of fresh air, ever caress of the wind and rustle of leaves I will feel, smell, sense and hear her.
    I cannot be angry; she is/was 16 years old and lived a full old life. My last gift to her is letting her go peacefully to a place I know she will enjoy far more, a place where she will triumph over her troubles and live eternally in happiness. Free from natures cruelty in this physical world.
    She gives me hope and something to look forward to when it is our time to go. Lupe has inspired, given us strength and shown us immense love. We will be together again “mala” but until then, we will celebrate her life, and look back with happiness and no regrets. After all… she will be waiting for us and that’s a greeting I absolutely cannot wait to share again with her.

  16. Only pet parents can truly understand the devastation of losing a furry family member. The Cat Blogosphere and all the pet bloggers and cat lovers she knows helped Mum a lot when Angel Loupi died. Thank you for your touching post ; it’s a topic about which it’s hard to write. Purrs

  17. My wiener girl, Sadie, is 15 and I’ve been kind of shocked to see how quickly she’s deteriorated. She was already slowing down, but then on the day before we left for BlogPaws she was suddenly unable to use her back legs. She stayed at the vet while we were away and by the time we returned, she was better but she’s still not the same. She sleeps 23 hours a day now, but she still loves to eat and her tail wags like mad when she sees Mommy and Daddy, and she doesn’t seem to be in a lot of pain. But I know the day is coming, and it’ll be here before I’m ready. But then again, is anyone ever really READY?

  18. Every minute of everyday I want to curl up in a corner and disappear. It’s been one month, 4 days and approx. 12 hours since I last saw Leo smile at me, and I can’t stop weeping. I can’t breathe…

  19. Such a heavy hearted post. We have all loved and lost, and it’s never easy. Wonderful giveaway that your doing.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  20. Sampson. He is my heart dog and every year on his birthday I feel a sense of sadness because at age ten (today) I know the time I have left, is less than the time I’ve had. The thought of losing him terrifies me and it paralyzes me.

    I’m so glad we have the blogging community to turn to when we experience a loss of our most beloved.

  21. Beautiful article. but what a difficult article to write. When I lost my Oliver I was in shock too and could not concentrate what so ever, it was like I was not there mentally. I was in grad school in psychology when it happened. I knew that grieving was difficult but realized that grieving an animal is even more difficult bc it is so taboo. You get to hear all kinds of platitudes such as “oh well, just get another one!” I had a person who even smiled and said,”oh your DOG died of cancer! (laugh),I thought that you said that your DAD died (another laugh) meaning that the fact that I lost my little 3 years old blond Cocker, Oli was laughable bc he was not important to her standard. And I just thought to myself, “you will not share this painful news with anyone bc they just don’t get it.”
    Years later, I became a psychotherapist and worked as a grief counselor. We received calls from people who lost a pet and were, in addition to being heartbroken, embarrassed to seek help from a therapist bc they were grieving a pet. They thought that we would judge them and even laughed at them which I would NEVER do.
    I am sharing this story to carry Fidose of Reality’s (Carol’s) message, if you are hurting and grieving a beloved buddy, best friend, a furry son or daughter don’t be afraid to seek out for help.
    Also, we don’t “get over” losing a pet (and/or a loved one) and we don’t forget them either – gosh even less being able to replace them – we learn how to live without having him or her in our lives. We develop a different “relationship” with them, we include them in our lives in a different way – a way that honors them for all the love and wonderful moments they gave us.
    The love we have for them never dies and the love they had for us never dies either. They live in our hearts forever and winks at us from time to time when we do or see something that reminds us if them.

  22. One of my greatest concerns is how I will cope with the loss/passing of ChazztheDog when that time comes. It scares me to think about the pain of that transition. He brings so much to my life

  23. A great idea from Margot. We’ve lost three of our dear pets in the last few years and it never gets easier. We had Sally from 8 weeks old and Tino we rescued from a sure death – so they were both so special to us. Becca we only had for a few years, but she was a dear and the perfect dog for us after Sally had passed. Jack and Maggie are both seniors. I know what’s coming – I just hope it’s not for a few more years.

  24. It’s a tremendously horrible thing to go through. I’m glad there are support groups out there for pet loss. I always feel like it’s never considered *that* important to some people because it’s an animal and it breaks my heart. I’ve been through the grief and I know it’s not easier in any way because it’s the loss of an animal. It’s the loss of a friend, a family member.

    I was in complete shock after the loss of my dog Carter. I remember going to work the day afterwards and completely regretting it, I didn’t give myself any time to grieve and it was a hottible mistake. I was literally in a daze for a few weeks.

    I love this post, and I’m going to check out Anatomy of a Grieving Dog Mom now.

  25. Thanks for sharing this Carol. Losing a pet really is so devastating. It’s weird, I just wrote a WW post remembering my cat Maggie. She passed a year ago. My most devastating pet loss was the loss of my childhood dog, Ginny. I remember the day we adopted her, I was about 7 years old. I was in my 20’s when she got sick out of the blue and died w/in a week. I grew up with her and barely remember the times without her in our family. It took me over 20 years to open my heart and love another dog. Our dogs are the light of our lives, but I do worry about that dreaded day when my heart will inevitably break into a million pieces all over again.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Cathy, Isis, & Phoebe

  26. There is no amount of time with our pets that would ever be “enough”. Losing them is so hard. My heart dog was Abby, who we only had for less than 2 years. She got cancer when she was only 15 months old and only lived another 15 months. But she was amazing and we learned so much from her. (Don’t enter me for the giveaway. I’d rather it goes to someone else who’s loss is more fresh and needs it more.)

  27. What a thoughtful gift. We still feel the pain of losing Blue. I had a charm with his name and it fell from my necklace. I have others, but it was still a bummer. I’m thankful for Zoey – she reminds me of him and it helps us feel like he’s still close

  28. I think my email address says it all – and the fact that I refer to myself as their mom of Team Beaglebratz just adds to what I feel for my dogs – all of my dogs, past and present have meant so much to me. The two I have now, because of my increasing involvement with and understanding of, hold a real special place in my heart. Both of my Beagles, Shiloh and Shasta are seniors now – I’ve had both since they were 8 weeks old – Shiloh is now 11 and Shasta will soon be 8. You have done a magnificent job writing about a very difficult topic. My wish is that all NON-dog or cat owning people would “get it” when it comes to losing a beloved furry member of one’s family – it’s not “Just a dog or just a cat.”.

  29. I’ve loved several dogs over the years. My first dog was Freckles…and the last dog of mine that passed away was three months ago, Patch. Miss them all.

  30. What a unique approach to such a heart rending event. Yes, grief seems to last forever. My own big dogs are both twelve years old and we’re not looking forward to the end with either.

  31. What a wonderful idea to help those grieving the loss of a beloved fur kid.

    I would like to nominate my amazing Facebook friend Mary Johnson, in Michigan, who just lost her Cocker Spaniel, Molly a couple days ago. She is an amazing dog mom and I know her and her husband are grieving terribly.

  32. I lost my Cheyenne – my first dog- very unexpectedly in October. I still miss her so much. I would love to explore this program.

  33. i lost my first mini schnauzer, rose, many yrs ago, she however, was really my parents dog b/c when i went away to do my college internship, when i came home they told me i could not have my dog back again. she was my parents first grandchild. with in 3 mos, they had spoiled her rotten, rotten to the core. she adored my parents and is now buried b/t them. i think my mother cried more over the loss of Rose than my dad. they used to fight over who Rose loved more. Rose was devastated when my father passed. she tore up his chair and kept waiting at the door for him to return from work.
    i am now facing what appears to be kidney failure or disease in my oldest child. she goes in for ultrasound and more testing on monday. she will be 13 on 9-12-14. i have had her since she was 6 wks old. we have been thru so much together. she was fine until a few wks ago. i have noticed just within 5 mos she has really slowed. i pray that it is nothing more than an infection or something else. she gets reg vet check ups 2-3 times a yr, eats a very healthy diet, has never been really sick. my friends dont really understand my devotion to my 3 girls or the money that i spend on them. they think i am crazy to spend 3-4k or more on a vet bill. however, i would mortgage my house to pay for their care. they are in my will and trust. my youngest who turned 4 today, has had some health issues this yr and now, but i hope nothing serious, she has 1 elevated liver enzyme and was hospitalized at the vet school in april for 4 days. they never figured out what the problem was after over 3k, which i am not happy abt.

  34. Gone but never forgotten, I have had 10 amazing fur kids leave their own unique paw prints forever on my heart…Ulysses, Jo-jo, Blondie, Rosebud, Moonshine, The Sunny-dog, Sushi, Rex, Duchess and Mr. Rico! Each one has made me a better human.

  35. My cocker Wigglebutt Angels Ginger, Missy and Danny. Losing our first dog Ginger from heart failure at 12 was devestating. The ache wouldn’t go away. After 4 mos, we saw an ad in the Washington Post for Oldies but Goodies (OBG) Cocker Rescue, checked out their website and went to the next adoption show where we met our sweet Missy. It was 2004 and we’ve been volunteering with OBG ever since . . . oh my, just realized it’s 10 years! Missy was taken from us just after just 5 short years unexpectedly from cancer. We were foster failures with our precious Pepper (who is still with us) in 2006 and our sweet Danny in 2009. We lost Danny one year ago this month at the age of 15. They were all so different, so special . . . and we still miss them all.

  36. We just lost our rescue dachshund, Wyatt, yesterday, after he apparently had been suffering for a while with an undiagnosed malignant melanoma. Our family has lost a few dogs before together, and others before, but this one is especially tough, as he was a senior boy when we adopted him and we just tried to give him as much love as possible. Still I didn’t think we expected to have to let him go so soon.

  37. I know I am probably too late for this drawing thing, but stumbled across the website nonetheless.

    I miss with all my heart my Jax, my lab-pit mix. It’s been just over two months. I got so lucky to have had him in my life. He’s left such a huge hole in my life.

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