Life after the Death of a Dog

I know how much it hurts to lose a dog. It hurts when it happens and it hurts when you unlock your door the next day and there’s no pup to greet you. The pain stays with you, but it does dull with time as you adjust to life without your best friend. With the death of Dutch, my brother’s dog, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about life after the death of a dog.4.1

Dutch’s favorite place in Chicago was Montrose Beach. James and I loved watching our pups romp together

The morning after Dutch died, James and I visited Montrose beach with my dogs. It was a chance to be outside on a beautiful day, reminisce, and of course, cry. In between our bouts of tears I saw one huge smile appear on my brother’s face. Eko and Penny circled and jumped and begged James to play. Never one to turn down an invitation from a pup, James took off at a run.


Like his pup before him, James is happiest when romping at the beach


Of course James can play with my pups anytime, but there is no substitute for a dog of your own


For his entire adult life, my brother had Dutch by his side. What now?


I miss Dutch terribly, but it doesn’t compare with the void Dutch’s absence leaves for James


Dutch, like all pups, was one of a kind. So how do you move on?


There’s no replacing Dutch, but there’s no doubt James is happiest with a loving pup by his side

The question of James getting another dog is “when” not “if.” And I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer as to when the best time is to get a dog after you have lost a dog. But I am very interested to hear your own experiences with the grief of losing a best friend and the joy of working to build a friendship with a new companion. How and when did you make those decisions? And was there anything in particular which helped the process for you?

PS – Thank you so much for all your kind words yesterday. They mean a lot to me, but more importantly, to James.

90 thoughts on “Life after the Death of a Dog”

  1. I just read your story about James and Dutch. It brought tears to my eyes. It’s only been 11 days since I had to let go of my Brittany. She was a 14 plus sheltie/American Eskimo mix. Not only was she my girl, we shared the same birthday so I also considered her my soulmate. I actually bought Brittany from a pet store. She was only 8 weeks old and walked into my life at a very vulnerable time. I was dealing with some health issues (intestinal ) and a very rocky marriage. She was a lifesaver from the very beginning. We’ve been through a divorce, multiple moves, geographically and was there each and every time to console my hurting heart. Change is not easy but having Brittany by my side as my loyal companion, certainly helped me adapt to change much easier. At 12 years of age, I discovered a golf ball sized lump next to Brittany ‘s tail. After some blood work and tests, it was confirmed that she developed cancer. So the next two years of her life were going to be the absolute best for her. I took her to the park and the beach almost every day. She loved car rides, even if it was around the block, anything to make her happy. She brought so much joy and love to my life, I wanted to make her happy, even if it was just a car ride around the block.
    Well, she shocked the vet by lasting two years after her cancer diagnosis. I gathered up enough courage to make the decision to put her down after I noticed her slowly going downhill. It was becoming very challenging for her to perform her doggie “duties ” because the tumors were interfering with her bowels. It was no longer about Brittany making me happy. Now it was about not letting her suffer any longer. She died with dignity and love. I was with her e every step of the way. From her being in my arms as she passed on, to her cremation ceremony. I watched the entire process. It brought much closure for me. Her remains lay comfortably in a pretty ceramic cookie jar. She lived for her treats, what better way to keep her remains in a safe and pretty place. She left a huge void in my life. And I trust with time, the void will only be replaced with more unconditional live, just like how she left it. In the meantime, memories of Brittany surround my heart and will be forever filled.

  2. The most terrible pain of losing a dog is something that every man, woman and child understands, no matter what race, culture or club we belong to. Maybe that commonality can help to bring us all closer together.

  3. Loss of a loved one pet or human is one of the hardest things anyone can go through. When i was 16 my parents bought me my first puppy that was all my own. She was my responseability she was my best friend. She and i had played with each other for 2 months before my parents agreed to let me have her.
    That was the first time i truly knew what it mint to love someone/thing more then anything and want to care for her.

    Her name was Queen Gracie Sniffalot Torres, she was a basset hound and there was never another like her. She had a scorpion and a 7 on her side. She was the most loving pup ever. She and i lived together til she was 2 months shy of her 11th birthday. That day i lost her to cancer. Which i honestly couldn’t believe was happening because she had already beat it twice and beat parvo at the age of 5. The vet was so amazed she got parvo that old and i truly believe she lived through the first two fights with cancer and the parvo purely on her love for me.

    But sadly even though she fought so hard with her third time having cancer see could no longer live a happy life. When she first got cancer she tried to hide that she was in pain, after it became had for her to go down the stairs she could no longer hide her pain. She fought to hang around a little longer to make it through my birthday and Christmas. When the drugs stopped helping her i decided it was time to let her go.

    I finally took her to our vet that she loved and had them spend her last minutes with us.

    When she finally went, it was the first time in my life that i truly knew what it mint to feel my heart crumble. Sure we had other dogs in our home but she was truly my best friend. It has now been 4 years and i have a new puppy but i still lose it sometimes when i find a new photo of her that i had lost. I still miss her more then anything but i know she’s still with me. I even think she hangs around and teaches my new puppy some things she used to do, that i had never taught the new puppy.

    So please tell your brother no matter how long or lonely he feels his pup will always be with him. I pray that good helps ease his hurt.

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