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December 4, 2014

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
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.

Comments for Life after the Death of a Dog

  1. When adopting Noah a month after losing Nutty it was tough. I knew I was doing the right thing for Nacho in finding him a new companion but the pain was very raw and had it not been for Nacho then I probably wouldn’t have had any more guinea pigs for a good few months at the very least. It’s been over a year since we lost Nutty and only now can I speak about him without welling up. Yet I know of other who bought other pets the day after losing one simply to try to fill that void inside of their lives where a pet used to be. It’s very much down to personal preference and how you feel. Sometimes a new pet can help you heal and give you a focus. Other times you need time before you can accept that kind of commitment into your life again.

    We hope James, whenever he feels ready to open his heart to another pet, finds the perfect friend. Not to replace Dutch, but to follow in his pawprints and offer him the love and loyalty his deserves.


  2. coastingnz says:

    Last thing I wanted when I lost my beloved Jeddyboy was a new pup but my husband has the same great attitute as you seem to and he got me Ziggy. I have to admit I struggled at first to bond with this little fella – gorgeous as he was. It had only been a couple of months since Jeddy’s passing and it seemed disrespectful. We had Nico our Dalmatian and he was all for a new playmate. The day Ziggy “disappeared” did it for me – we had a load of top soil delivered for our garden – big truck, dumped in the middle of our drive this huge pile of soil. After the truck left I couldn’t find Ziggy anywhere. I sat down and cried and cried and cried – mysteriously out of nowhere this little puppy appeared in front of me – I bundled him into my arms still crying and wept for ages, telling him I loved him – I think for me it was partly giving over to my grief of loosing Jeddybear (yes we had lots of names for him) and realising I now had a responsibility for this little fella. Been in love with him ever since. Jeddyboy is still with me – my screen saver so first thing I see each morning and again at night when the computer is turned off – good morning and good night. He was my first, he was my angel he was my best friend but now I have Ziggy and of course my big fella Nico who I love just as much and rue the day I have to go through it all again. Stephen says he wants lots of dogs to give a great life to and love – straight up about the short life they lead so give them a good life and give as many as we can in our life. I try but I still wish they’d live forever – forever in my heart though. Sorry to burble on there a bit….. amongst the tears again. Bye Dutchie you won’t be forgotten either big fella – I like to think my Jeddyboy is there welcoming all the new dogs to doggie heaven.

  3. Elyse says:

    It’s a challenging question. I prefer to get a puppy as soon as possible. The hole is never filled, but a new something starts in your heart with each new furry friend. I cannot stand not having a dog. I am incomplete. Lonely. Something is just not right in my life when there is no one to greet me. (My husband no longer wags his tail when I return, after 28+ years).

    My husband is the opposite. He needs to grieve. To get used to the loss.

    It is not a good combination. Especially for me because he has won each time! We waited 6 months after Goliath died to get Charlie, 8 after Charlie died to get Cooper and 10 months after we lost Cooper to get Duncan.

    I don’t like being a nag. But it’s worth it for some things!

  4. It’s tough, losing a dog. We had to make the decision to put my parents’ dog down a couple of years ago (they were on vacation). We lost our 21-1/2 year old cat last year, and got two 7 month old kittens within a week. They didn’t stop the grieving, but it helped having them around.

  5. meANXIETYme says:

    The first dog I rescued as an adult became a part of my very soul. I was ill and she was by my side 24/7. When my husband had to work, she was there. When he slept at night and I did not, she was there. She was the reason I woke up in the morning–to take care of her–and I spent the last months of her life on a strict schedule of pills and routines so she would be comfortable. When we finally let her go–because we had no other choice–my life went from color to black and white. I struggled a lot without her. We were in the midst of moving to a new house, and I wept at the loss of our old house because it had so many memories of her–all the favorite places she like to be. I didn’t care about the house itself, but leaving HER home was so hard. We spent about two months without a dog, though we did have my parents’ dog nearby to lift our spirits every now and then.
    We knew what type of dog we wanted next–even though we weren’t ready–and because it was a semi-unusual breed to find in rescue, I started looking. Only a few weeks later I saw a listing for Le Moo and I felt COMPELLED. I was sure we weren’t ready, but something in her picture called to me. We met her and spent about an hour with her, but I cried through the meeting…and after. We met her a second time the next weekend and although I really wasn’t ready, we adopted her. She has turned out to be an awesome dog, but it took me a long time to bond with her.
    You’re right, the timing is very personal. But I do want to say that I’ve come to understand that I’m not going to bond with every dog the same way as I did with my first. I’m in a different place in my life and my emotional needs are different, so my bond is different with Le Moo. And different again with Butthead, who came to us 2 years after Le Moo.
    My best advice, don’t expect anything. Be open to what comes, however it comes. Although every bond is different, every relationship is different, each is beautiful and joyful and fulfilling in different ways.
    Again, my very utmost sympathies to James as he moves through this journey. He’ll eventually figure out his new normal, and when his heart is ready, the right pup will find him.

  6. I’m sure his heart will tell him if or when it is the right time. After we lost our two beloved dogs in 2009, we were sure that we will not have another dog. But we felt somehow “lost”. We found Easy “accidentally” while we looked for a vet pathologist and as we saw his picture we were sure he is THE ONE ….

  7. Victoria says:

    I think he will know when its right – i wasn’t specifically looking for a new pup and I’d have to say Rigs found me – and when i first saw him i knew it was just right -there is no replacing a lost best friend but you can add new best friends. I really don’t think the pups we love and lose along the way want us to be sad and lonely but would rather we had someone to catch the ball we throw or the firsbee we toss because that makes us so happy and that would make them happy (sorry kind of sappy!)

  8. Mary Ann says:

    While reading your letter, tears are streaming down to my face and my Shiba Inu and Chihuahua came to me and they both comforted me , with a questions : ” whats wrong mommy , why are you crying ? ” I told them that Dutch pass away and I’m reading Eko’s Dad letter.. My Niko laid his head on my chest and my Inu seat next to my legs. Ive been following your blog and I feel sad today because of Dutch is gone, ever since I’ve benn following you , you always bring smile to me when i see Eko and Penny photos all over the place, even at work I introduced you guys to my co workers and swing my computer monitor to show them Penny and Eko…

    May the Angels above comfort your brother James in this difficult time w/o Dutch.

  9. harrispen says:

    When we lost Nina it was the only time in our adult life when there was only one dog in the house. Nina was suffering from kidney failure for about 8 months so we knew the end was near. We didn’t want to be without a dog for long so even before Nina passed we contacted a couple of rescue groups and had our home visits with them. We never felt like we were slighting Nina by doing this. As a matter of fact I think it helped the rescues to see what a great dog she was and how loved she was even in her dying days. We kept our eyes on the rescue sites and had actually seen Millie listed there before Nina’s passing but never went to any of the meet and greets until after we lost Nina. We don’t really know why Millie was passed over for so long (black dog syndrome/younger puppy) but she was waiting for us when the time was right a few weeks after Nina died.

    Best of luck to James on his search for a new pup. There are plenty of rescues in Chicago if that is the way he decides to go. It sure has worked great for us.


  10. Christy - Jorga's Mom says:

    Took me 9 years to get over losing Max. It was a horrible accident so very unexpected. And…. I didn’t know I loved him that much….. until he was gone.

    Now I have Jorga, a RR, and she is my world.

    Thanks for sharing life with us. Eko, Penny and Dutch are part of my favorites on the web.

    Prayers and condolences.

  11. I lost both of my 14 year old dogs within 10 days. One had been declining slowly and one was unexpectedly sudden. It was gut-wrenching to go from two companions I’d known for a decade and more, to utter emptiness. I had planned on waiting to get another dog, but I could hardly stand to be in house without a sleeping dog within constant view and the sounds of dog nails on the floor. I am always perusing rescue/adoption sites, whether or not I am actively looking, and in the lonely evenings I perused Petfinder. There was one little girl I couldn’t stop thinking about, and that little girl was Ruby. I filled out an application, I made a call, I set up an appointment to meet her, and I brought her home a week after losing my second dog. Ruby was a young, high-energy Border Jack, and it was immediately apparent how different life was going to be with her. Having her around both snapped me out of my grief and deepened it, everything about her either a comparison or a contrast to Lasya or Freya. I’ve since added a second dog, and my home feels complete in a way I think only a pair of dogs can offer. I learned that I don’t even know how to function without a dog in my life, and knowing that at any given moment there are countless dogs needing homes, my door and heart will always be open to another.

  12. Life without your best friend is defiantly hard. What was hardest for me was counting only three dogs at home and not four, at the end of each meal I would save 4 pieces of food so each dog could have a taste. I still make the mistake of cutting 4 pieces, I still grab 4 biscuits. I call Gambler Norman. It did help me thou to have three dogs left at home, also that two of them are offspring of Norman. It’s helped me to put his ashes in a little bottle and I wear it around my neck so he is always with me. You are so right and there is no right or wrong time to get another companion. When the time is right James will know it. Hugs to both of you!

  13. lorigallo says:

    So sorry to hear this news. Please send our condolences to your brother. Xoxo

  14. Kyla says:

    In Oct 2012, we lost Kenzie on a Friday afternoon. The next weekend we all piled into the car and drove to Orange County, California to pick up a rescue that appeared to be a perfect fit on the Internet. She was a perfect fit-I was included in the decision because there is no sense getting someone who doesn’t get along with me. She is half Westie and Kenzie was full Westie. Kaci is still a little bit fearful because she was in a pen with a lot of big dogs. The shelter didn’t care because all the dogs were goners anyway-it was death row. The rescue organization took Kaci in and adopted her out. She still has a nick in her ear from that experience. Kenzie would have approved.

  15. KDKH says:

    The best time is when he’s ready to take another risk. That’s something only he knows. I try to always have multiple pets so that there is always one to comfort me until I’m ready. Grief is too hard to do alone.

  16. When we lost our first dog (she was the purebreed, lived to be 16 and declining slowly), we still had Cody. When Cody passed, it was right before the holidays and only months before we moved to Arizona. I (at least) just kind of threw myself into working and the fact that we were moving 3,000 miles away.

    Looking back, we just needed some time. We had a lot to deal with in a short amount of time. Now that it’s been 3 years, we’re definitely ready. Cody was Mr. Personality and no dog will replace him. But he’s definitely helped shape us as pet owners.

    I’m so sorry for James’s heartbreak!! It’s never easy. I think it’s more of a personal journey. There were times I thought I was ready. But now that I’ve had 3 years (and a vast of other changes), I’m glad that I’ve had the time. We’re causally looking but would rather wait for a pup that will fit within the family.

  17. I think the process of “recovering from the loss” is as unique as we are……each of us grieves in his or her own way at his or her own pace. James will know when it’s time and feel that he’s ready again. I do think it’s important to grieve though – some people just “stuff it away” and that’s just plain unfair to US and to the next pet we get. We’ll expect that one to be a duplicate of the one we lost if we haven’t TRULY “let go”. Remembering we have the memories always – and photos/videos – help tremendously – YES they are gone but never forgotten.

    Hugs, Pam

  18. Marcela says:

    Wow! Dutch not only touched your brother’s life, but yours as well. That’s wonderful. Yes, there is no replacing Dutch. I love to see pictures of him. There is just something very beautiful and tender about senior dogs. Yes, I know I am biased since I have one of my own. The first dog I lost, my mom’s dog, hurt so much that I promised myself that I’d never allow myself to feel that way. 10 long years passed by before I got a dog of my own at my girlfriend’s annoying pleas to do so. My regret? That because of my fear of being hurt, I waited 10 long years to get a dog. As I matured, I realized that anytime we love we set ourselves to feel pain when those loved ones are no longer with us. I also realized that by attempting to shield myself from pain, I was also missing the amazing love a dog can provide to a very scared human being like myself. Let James heal, for his heart is probably broken, and one day when he is ready he will find his furry companion. Just be there for him while he is healing. A big hug for James and you.

  19. Emmadog says:

    Strangely, when Mom’s dog Trine passed away 11 years ago, Katie and Mom went out on the beach and walked and walked. Mom cried and talked and yelled, but no one was around, so it was just the two of them. Katie searched for Trine for weeks. It was a really hard time, but for Mom the best thing was having Katie there with her to grieve with, talk to and most important she wasn’t left without a dog. A new dog won’t ever replace one that passed, but it will bring all new adventures into your life and that new dog will carve out its own special place in the heart and create new memories. We are sure your brother is totally devastated, it is so sad.

  20. Barbara says:

    I am so sorry about Dutch. I believe that when it feels right to adopt another pup, James will know. I also firmly believe that God has a new Angel now and that he will always be a part of James. RIP Dutch. Hugs and tailwags from Texas.

  21. missingaspen says:

    “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, Love leaves a memory no one can steal”

    First and foremost, I am so sorry for your brother’s lost. Your post yesterday was so well written and it brought tears to my eyes.

    It’s now been 1 year and 8 days since I lost Aspen. I was completely crushed when I had to make the decision to let her go at the age of 6. For me, my grieving process started with commissioning to have an oil painting of done of her. I made a memorial scrap/picture book of the 5 years that I had with Aspen and created a memorial shelf in my house for her box containing her ashes, her clay pawrint, a drawing of a dog with wingss and a print out of the poem Pawprints on my heart. Throughout the year, starting on what would have been her 7th birthday, I spread some of her ashes along our favorite hiking trails and put a little memorial marker at the top of our favorite hiking spot. I even conveniently borrowed my friends pets to help fill the void in the house. At one point I was pet sitting: 3 dogs, 2 cats, 2 chickens and a fish.

    Flash forward to present day, I am not ready for another dog to call my own. However, I have signed up to foster military personnel’ s family pets through the organization called Dogs on Deployment. It gives me a way to help a dog in need.

    In my process of creating Aspen’s memorial book I came across this poem that helped me through the process and wanted to share it and I hope it helps your brother as well.

    You took me in when I was lost
    You gave your heart; you knew the cost.
    You knew some day I’d have to go.
    You didn’t care; you loved me so.
    Each day we’d celebrate anew.
    You with me and me with you.

    God called me Home, I couldn’t stay.
    You know we’ll meet again some day.
    The Bridge is real and I am there.
    I have great friends who really care.
    I see your tears, I feel your heart.
    We two are but a thought apart.

    So light a candle, say a prayer.
    You may not see me but I’ll be there.
    True love it stands the test of time.
    I am yours and you are mine.
    -Aubrie Kavanaugh

  22. Boomdeeadda says:

    oh no, I’m really sad to hear of Dutch passing, sorry for this fellows. Just a really beautiful and sweet looking pup. I can feel my eyes getting stinging and watery just typing this.

    We’ve parted with two dogs in our household, both had pretty long and healthy lives with tons of love. So ours hearts are happy that we were able to give them that and in return we got unconditional love and companionship. The goodbyes are simply misery and unavoidable. Since we lived at the lake, all our friends and neighbours also had their pals to ease the pain and fill the big void of ear scratches and tummy rubs for a while. After our first dog passed away, I can remember, about a year and a half later, getting the urge to rescue another dog. At first, I’d just spend evenings reading bio’s on dogs needing homes. The more I read, the more excited I got. There’s so many deserving pups waiting for families. We were able to visit all potential adoptable dogs and walk them since we were working with a non profit group that places dogs in foster homes while they wait. It was an excellent experience and as soon as I met Buddy, I knew he was the one.

    Take time to enjoy all the memories, they never leave. When you’re ready to adopt, you’ll just feel it in your heart and know. Take good care.

  23. Katy says:

    The last time i lost a dog was when i was pregnant. At that moment I lost not only a dog but my sister, my friend… I wanted to have another dog, a Rhodesian, of course, right away. The problem then was that the dog I lost used to live with me and my parents but i was moving to live with my husband. And he did not want to live with a dog. It took me 4 years of begging him to have his agreement to have a dog. At that very moment one woman contacted me to tell me that there was a girl Rhodesian which was 5.5 year old and which had a family who no longer wanted her. I knew right away that that was my girl! And now i know that it was so worth it waiting for my girl for four years as this is the greatest dog ever. Every dog is the best ever!
    So what i wanted to say with this long story is that it is always the time to get another dog, there is no wrong time! And James will know the moment has come when it comes 🙂 His new dog, his new best friend will be waiting for him someday! Maybe today! Or maybe in some time! And Dutch is never going to be replaced no matter whether James takes a new puppy today or tomorrow.

  24. fozziemum says:

    I have lost so many animals….and never is it any easier…the worst have been from outside our control and without a chance to say goodbye..one sweet cat Simba to a bullet and two pet sheep to dog attacks…these killed me..no goodbyes..no chance to be with them..with Eich our rottie his liver failed he was ill one day we said goodbye the next ,,too quick and too unexpected he had been fine..Merlin we lost to feline aids…we knew the timing was right..Squash at 17 had a good life for a kitty ..no less hurtful..i believe animals come to us when we are ready..and usually they let us know we are ready to have a new adventure..no right or wrong time..but I know as I watch my two old boys asleep under the xmas tree that when the time comes I will be a complete basket case as I have been before..and no doubt will be again..they will never be replaced..like people they are unique and so the heart makes room for another sweet friend..loves to all and big hugs as well Bev xx

  25. Nicki Slabber says:

    I lost my six year old Ridgeback x Great Dane x German Pointer to heart failure. I lost my best friend, companion and my security (I live in South Africa and a single woman living in a rural area does not take security lightly). Well as you say life became very dull and tense for three months and my friends took matters into their own hands and decided I should adopt a sad six year old Ridgeback looking for a good home. As I also needed security it would be a win win. I of course replied in the very best ‘late Amy Winehouse’ fashion ‘no, no, no’ and possibly another ‘no’. The friends rallied, invited me for a couple of glasses of wine on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the farm and I woke up the next day with a terrible hangover and a ridgeback called Pluto sleeping on my couch! He has not left my side since. I think of my late Fred everyday and cried my eyes out when I read yesterday’s blog – but there is invariably a dog place in a human heart and a human place in a dog heart.

  26. Kate Z says:

    Your post yesterday was so moving – I shared it with so many people both on social media and privately. It was just a beautiful tribute. I think you are right, it’s totally unique to every person and situation and I think usually the right situation just presents itself. Some people have to go get a new dog right this second – and that doesn’t mean they are replacing their previous dog – that dog will never be replaced. But the hole they leave when they leave us is deep and wide and it takes your breath away sometimes. And having something to love doesn’t fill that hole at all – it just helps you not fall into it (as often). My children grew up with our previous two dogs and while we have a new dog now whom we ADORE and who is the perfect dog for us – they still fall into grief over the loss of their brothers. Sometimes out of the blue they just start talking to or about our previous dogs. Nothing “helps” but time.

  27. Nancy says:

    I lost my 13 year old dog two weeks ago. I have 2 other dogs but it sure seems quite in my house. Right now I’m just going to give all my love to the ones I have left. We can comfort and console each other. My other two are getting up in years as well and soon it will be their time. Will I get another dog? Yes-eventually. There’s nothing like the joy a dog brings into your life. My old guy was my first dog and he gave me purpose. He got me involved in rescue and showed everyone how loving and kind a pit bull could be. And there are so many dogs that need a loving home…..how could you say not to that.

  28. Oh man, two days in a row of sobbing like a baby when reading your posts. Will, you hit on some very emotional and powerful stuff with both posts about Dutch. Please know I’m so very sorry for yours’ and James’ loss, it’s never easy to say goodbye to a loyal fur-friend, especially one with which you and your pups are so obviously connected. I can only say, treasure all those tender thoughts and sweet memories. They say you cannot really ‘replace’ a lost pet, only substitute it and for totally different reasons. I hope that James’ new addition fills the holes that Dutch’s passing has left.

  29. raisingdaisy says:

    Will, you gotta stop making me cry. I recall vividly the loss of each previous pet, and each time I said “I never want to go through this again”, yet after a year or so, I always have a new pet. I think each dog has completely different things to offer, and we love them “specially” for those things. Each reaches the top of the love meter, but in different ways and for different reasons. And when it comes to getting another companion, well, it’s really a personal matter. I had to wait until the grief passed, the numbness passed, and the void was clearly not a matter of replacement but one of needing to be fulfilled. But that’s just me. One of my aunts always gets a new dog within a few days of loss because she can’t handle the pain. It works for her, and all of her dogs are very well loved and cared for. I’m sure James will know when the time is right for him too – there’s no such thing as a “wrong” amount of time.

  30. Dasha says:

    I have been where James is right now, quite recently this past June. Tears are flowing as I’m sure a piece of James’ heart was taken when Dutch left this world. I believe our four legged companions are always with us, even though they are not here physically. If we are open to it, they send us messages in different ways. I lost my little Shih Tzu, Kobie, this past spring he was 11 and had declined quickly within a months time. I was not ready to let him go. I had just lost another one of my little guys a year earlier, Caper, he had been my first dog. I know some people might have thought I was crazy but about 2 weeks after I lost Kobie, I adopted a little female Shih Tzu from the Humane Society. Kobie gave me several signs pointing towards this little girl. He knew I needed her as much as she needed me. What possessed me to look at the website for the humane society on my phone and seeing her picture right before I went in to pick up Kobie’s ashes?! Her humane society name had significance to me (Purple). My mom had dreamt that I had come home from a recent trip with a little black and white dog. The gal that went to the back to get her for me was named “Kolby”… I took her home that day and haven’t looked back. I feel blessed everyday that I have this little girl. I know who sent her to me – thank you Ko.
    When the time is right and the stars are aligned, it will be time for James to get another dog. He will know .

  31. Patsy Portway says:

    My dog was diagnosed with a brain tumour at 14 and I decided that as long as he wasn’t in any pain and had a good quality of life, then we would keep him going for as long as possible. He had been such a big part of my life when I was a single Mum and was the protector for my young daughter and me. The vet had told me that when the time came it would happen very quickly. Well, he went on for another year and I am so thankful that I had that time with him. It helped me to prepare for the inevitable. One day, I had just got into work ( and hadn’t even taken my coat off) when my daughter, now 20, called me to say she didn’t like the look of him and something wasn’t right. I turned straight round, told my boss I was going, and headed home. I arrived home 20 minutes later and told my daughter to get the car out, while I wrapped my boy in his blanket. I just knew that the inevitable time had come. We arrived at the vets, and as we walked through to the consulting room, my boy lifted his head, rested it on my shoulder, and passed away in my arms. It was the worst thing for my daughter and me and of course, we were in floods of tears and beside ourselves with grief. But despite this, glad that he went on his terms and thankful that he seemed to be waiting for me to come home before he chose to go.
    Of course it was such a big void, and I always knew we would get another dog – I also knew that my boy would be happy for us to adopt another dog to give it a happy and caring home ( he didn’t like other dogs when we were out). I managed a whole six weeks before I said to my husband that I couldn’t stand it any longer, I hated coming in to an empty house, I missed not having a reason to traipse around the woods and common in all weathers, I just hated having a constant feeling of emptiness.
    So off I went to the shelter, and adopted Baxter who arrived on Christmas Eve…….then a couple of months later ( I had retired from my job by then), I looked on a rescue site and saw a dog who seemed to be there forever, no one wanted him. Eventually, after still seeing this dog pop up on the rehoming site, while all the others had found homes, I told my husband that myself and daughter were going out for lunch, and we made our way to the rescue site. Bob the dog arrived a week after our visit! So now we had two! Without boring you any further, we know have five dogs in total – all of them rescued except the last one, that being the dog I had always wanted. We’re a happy bunch, but it one of them has replaced my last boy – they couldn’t, but they’re all loved and all have their own characters, like my last job did. Finally after 4 years, i can now look at photos of my boy and smile at the havoc he caused throughout his life.

  32. susan says:

    I don’t wait very long for a couple of reasons. As painful as it is to lose a cherished dog, the silence without a dog is even more crushing. The other reason is when it comes to dogs, I try to live in the moment, like my dogs do, recognize I’m in pain, ride it out, make myself find the joy in the memories, find a new dog, be present with the new dog, carry on. It’s something all my dogs have taught me by example, it’s the way they live.

  33. Hi Will. Like you have already heard, fantastic post that has made me cry, but mostly smile 🙂 I am going to share my Mom’s story on “when”. My Mom got Brandy, a lab/doberman mix when we lived in Breckenridge. My brother let her and their little dog out, and didn’t watch them. They ran down on the road, a guy was speeding, hit her and in spite of the vet working for 12 hr to save her, she passed away at 2yrs old. It took my Mom 8 years before she got her next dog Molly the Lab. She lost Molly a little over 2 years ago after 13 wonderful years together. Mom was without a pet companion for 3 1/2 months when she saw a tiny little cream poodle and fell in love. Jessie is the best dog in the world for her and Dad and they adore him. I believe that James will know, and it will just happen when it is the right time.

  34. I lost my beloved beagle, T-Bone, almost two years ago. He took ill rather suddenly and at first the vet believed he just had really arthritic hips, but he got worse and stopped playing with his tennis balls and he did not really want to eat. When a beagle won’t eat, it is more serious than arthritis. We had blood tests and x-rays and nothing was really pinpointed because the blood work was normal and the x-rays did not show anything more than arthritis. I had asked the vet at the end of 12/2012 if it was time to let him go, but the vet did not seem to feel he had major problems. He just continued to get worse and finally the vet told me what I already knew as I sat and held him crying and praying every night for almost a month. So towards the end of 1/2013 I had to send my T-Bone to a place where he would no longer suffer. I had other beagles before him, since 1991, and even though I was not dog-less (I also have a Shih Tzu mix named Cowboy), I was beagle-less for the first time in 22 years. Thank God for Cowboy or I believe I would have just gone insane, but I began looking for another beagle immediately. And about 3 weeks later, on my birthday I found my beagle puppy. He is red and white, came from hunting stock but would have been a bust as a hunter because he is timid and dislikes loud noises. My adult daughter suggested he be named Copper after the little hound in the Disney tale of the fox and the hound, so Copper is his name. He is not T-Bone, but one thing T-Bone taught me over my 10 years with him is that I can love again. I still miss dear T-Bone every day, but I just cannot imagine life with no dogs. It is not natural.

  35. Hi Will – I just read the story about James and Dutch. It’s so beautifully written and I feel so sad for James. There is a Dr. Seuss saying that you probably know by now, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I know that this won’t make a dent in the emptiness he feels right now, but maybe it will help. A very strange coincidence..I am picking up a German Short-haired pointer from a high kill shelter tomorrow and transporting him into the program I volunteer for called The Dog Rescuers (out of Oakville, Ontario). My daughter and I volunteer for this great organization and just help in any way we can. It just so happens that it’s the same breed as Dutch. Also, we just recently fostered a puppy which was an amazing experience. We already have 2 dogs and a cat and would have adopted her had she not already been spoken for. Sending hugs to James! I can send him a photo of the dog I’m rescuing tomorrow. Maybe that will help him focus on a happy ending:) xoxo, Elena

  36. Jeanne says:

    We have adopted rescues for over 20 years – some are older and we share less time with them before we lose them – others are young, but still come with the bittersweet knowledge that our hearts will ache far too soon. We tend to get the tough dogs that have been turned in twice for aggression and work with them to lose their fear or need to be dominant in every situation. Years of training and commitment go into them and a deep bond is developed. It’s painful to even consider the day they are make they final trip. But I know my husband’s words to me just before we leave the vet’s office for the last time without them is “the next one that needs us is out there, waiting.” And the cycle begins again.

  37. Oscar says:

    For some strange reason I got a third dog six months ago, fully knowing that Fergus, my eldest, wouldn’t be particularly happy. I never allowed the Ferg to be displaced to a second place, now he is slowing going and soon will be hard pressed to continue living, and my love for him knows no bounds, so I will pray for the right time to put him to sleep, at home, and in my arms. As to the question about the right timing to get a new dog, well, you must do it as soon as possible. You are not replacing your lost one, that love will never, never and never change, and he will hold that special spot until the day you day. And if you are a believer in Christ, I assure you that you will see him there. There are plenty of solidly documented books about this. Now, it is your responsibility to ensure that you also go up there, because your pup certainly is. His mission was accomplished.Now, have you understood the message? Could this be what he wanted you to realize? God bless you and guide you!

  38. We’ve lost three dogs in the last 5 years. The first was Sally, our baby that we got as pup and lived her whole life with us. She was our first dog together and we lost her suddenly, so it was hard to think about replacing her. Luckily we had Tino, so we weren’t dog less – I don’t think I could have taken that. We began looking for a new dog about a month after Sally passed and it was another few weeks before we found the ‘right’ dog for our family – Becca, a senior who needed a home. When Tino passed, just over a year after Sally, it was a little easier and we adopted Jack within a few weeks.The same when Becca passed – I crave the companionship of dogs and having two just seems right for our family. I think it’s different for everyone and your brother will figure it out – he’ll know when he’s ready.

  39. cdog5 says:

    Will, I had a writing teacher who was a huge dog lover, and she has always said (and I’m paraphrasing badly here) that you honor the love of one dog by taking another into your life. It’s a very difficult decision to make, but I’m sure your brother will make the right decision at the right time.

  40. Julia Gibbs says:

    I’ve lost two canine boys to that same damned cancer. My heart goes out to James. The last one was a mixed goofy boy, named Rudy.
    Rudy was sweet and smart. His linage was probably a cross of Boston Terrier and Boxer. He was both of my sons companion. Sleeping one night with one then the next night with the other. As the boys grew and matured Rudy remained in their lives. Many a date Rudy accompanied each boy. When the older moved out, Rudy knew the sound of his truck and would run to the window to look for “his” boy.
    A usual Thursday for me, my weekday off from my work as office manager at a vet clinic. A leasire day of coffee and a little shopping. Rudy was his normal active self that morning, but when I returned that afternoon, he was quiet, just not as active. He didn’t eat all his dinner, which was very unusual. When my youngest came in he too noticed Rudy being not himself. I told him if he continued he would join me at work the next day.
    When he refused his breakfast I knew he needed a checkup. After X-rays and ultrasound, his spleen needed immediate attention. Surgery revealed a ruptured tumor with another large tumor behind it. We never woke him up.
    Both my boys and my husband came to the clinic to say their goodbyes. It was hard to see three men cry over their buddy. When these special ones go, they take part of your heart with them.
    Good bye dear Rudy, you are missed!

  41. Chris Vermeulen says:

    Will… your words are very moving and touching. My partner and I lost our sweet Annie, a 12-yr old Whippet, in March of this year. My chest still tightens the same today as it did then.

    We have a male Whippet, Annie’s brother in love, Hunter, and cherish every minute we have with him, trying not to think of the inevitable.

    To your question about getting another dog… we’ve struggled with this (and continue to), but have agreed that our hearts can’t bear it – the loss, that is.

    Thank you for sharing your story and your brother’s… it warms my heart and brings comfort (along with a flood of tears). I wish you and your pups long, happy lives together.

    – Chris Vermeulen

  42. Michelle McGarrity says:

    James will know when the time is right when he sees his next dog for the first time. Could be tomorrow or next month or next year. When we lost our beloved Clark Gable (his rescue mom called him that because he was so handsome and we agreed and kept the name) my husband saw a fluffy puppy at the same rescue we got Clark, it was love at first sight. He saw him 1 month to the day we lost Clark. When we found out he was born on my birthday we knew it was meant to be. We brought him home 4 days later.

    Today I lost my baby Daisy and I promised her before she left me that I would honor her memory by loving another little (or big) girl that needed me just as she did. I dont know how long it will be until I find her but we will know it when we see each other.

    James it is hard but it is okay to cry for Dutch now and even 5 years later. Keep your heart open for that new baby because you never know when you will see him.

  43. joell Velotta says:

    When I lost my first Great Dane I didn’t make the chioce my Boz the dane I lost brought Boss who needed me or better yet I needed him

  44. Kathryn Nguyen says:

    We lost our first rescued yellow lab in 8/14 and our world just torn apart! He was our 1st son and our lives. My husband didn’t want another dog til next year and I was ok with that. But, the emptiness and silence was deafening. 3 weeks later, we found a beautiful Great Pyrenees on FB for adoption and had to go meet him. It was love at first sight for me. Of course, he can never be replaced but we have so much love to give another dog a chance in life and I know our Dice would want that from us. Keep giving and giving and in return, we received the best unconditional love more than any human being can ever offer.

  45. Ashley says:

    I lost my 4 y/o dog, Moyer, to lymphoma in August and 6 weeks later got my puppy, Bayern. I went to a pet store for the first time the night after I’d finally not cried myself to sleep, just to see if I could be around another dog without crying. Bayern picked me. A volunteer asked me to hold him, he laid in my arms and that was that. I explained everything I’d just gone through with Moyer (8 months of chemo, a Christmas diagnosis, fundraising and the loss of my only family for 2000mi) and my hesitation to the volunteers. We did a 2-week trial before finalizing the adoption, but I knew in 2hrs Bayern wasn’t going anywhere.
    Bayern has gotten me through some pretty dark days. I still miss Moyer terribly. I got Moyer at 10 months, we had 2.5yrs of puppyhood (he was a lab), a year of sickness and now I’m in puppyhood with Bayern. Honestly, it’s been challenging, I’ve been dealing with “puppy-ness” for almost 4yrs and will be for a couple more and I think I’m not as patient as I was with Moyer. But, I realize it and can adjust. I think getting a puppy so soon has helped me heal. Certain things are easier now that I have Bayern, while others are more challenging. I didn’t realize how many people knew of Moyer and for the first month people saw me and Bayern out and about they asked how my other dog was doing. Moyer and I were so close and Bayern is still new, so it feels like building a new relationship – as odd as that may sound. Moyer was going through a lot of testing last year at this time and then was diagnosed 12/23, it’s not easy to be reliving it – but Bayern helps me out of that hole. I’m grateful I found Bayern and that he found me, even if it was sooner than expected, I wouldn’t change it.

  46. Will, I’m just catching up my long backlog of reading. I’m sorry for your loss, for your brother’s loss and for the collective grief we all feel when a beloved animal leaves our side. We’ve had cats all our lives, and have said goodbye to many over the years.

    Cats seem to find us, so the decision is often made for us. I only meant to have two cats, but at some point found myself feeding six felines instead: two of our own, another stray, two cats that ‘left home’ for greener pastures, at least part of the time, and a semi-feral that with baby steps has moved indoors and now lives on my desk.

    I have heart space for all of them.

    Because dogs spend so much time at your side and venture out with you when you leave the house, I think the bond is extraordinary. Like any other loss, it’s personal. Your brother will hear of a dog in need or he’ll seek one out when ready and will fall in love again.

    Thank goodness for resilient hearts and thank goodness for people like you and your brother who love and care for beloved animals with a full heart.

  47. kathryn says:

    My heartfelt condolences on Dutch’s passing. I can imagine it will be hard for James and all of you. Dutch was a part of your family & your lives. Our bond with animals is esp tender. I had a male ridgeback Rhody whom I rescued at 18 mos. It was just him & me for 5 years. Rhody and I bonded deeply. He was so much more than just my dog. I loved him, cared for him and ultimately had to decide when his disease (degenerative myelopothy – DM) had progressed far enough. The pain of his loss was physical. I felt and heard him the night after I euthanized him – the sound of him sleeping on his bed on the floor beside me. I’ve dreampt of him often. I talk to him and always blow him kisses when I look at his photo. I had the best, kindest, bravest, goofiest and loyal dog a person could hope for. Neighbours mourned and cried over his death – thats how well loved he was. For me, it is too soon to get another ridgeback – it’s not been a year yet. One day I will. But I will always love Rhody. Give yourselves comfort knowing you loved and celebrated Dutch. Take care, K

  48. Lili says:

    The story of Dutch is beautiful and to relate offers comfort. I lost Benni, a french bulldog, chihuahua rescue 6 weeks ago today and as I loved the weekends, I dread them now. I lost Benni in a freak accident. I had to work on my day off, came home excited to see him and Hit the park and he somehow got wrapped in the curtains that cover the front door and choked. It’s still unbelievable to me. I always find Private time in the day to cry and cry. The loss is so personal only you experience the void and emptiness that follows. As hurt as I am, to have had Benni’s love was one of life’s ultimate gifts for me. Even though I feel cheated out of years to come with him, he was only 6, I would go through this pain again just for the experience of the love and trust we provided eachother.

  49. Jessica Gaab says:

    The stories I’ve read have been very touching. Thank you for sharing. I lost my dog Blue on October 6rh 2013 and I still constantly think about him. He was beautiful on the inside and out and had the most sweetest soul. My boyfriend and I had a great time with him the night before and in the middle of the night his spleen ruptured. We rushed him to the vet and unfortunately the vet said it was most likely cancerous and his chance of getting better was very slim. We made the best decision for him and let him go. It was the hardest decision of my life, but the best one for him. I missed having a dog so we found our current dog Ellie at a local shelter. I could only hold out for three weeks, and she is very different then Blue but I wouldn’t change my mind about adopting her. My heart still aches for Blue, but it makes me happier to know he didn’t suffer a long lingering death and I was able to lay next to him when he took his last breath.

  50. Jack P Johnson says:

    We lost our Angle girl about a year ago. Angel was the Best GSP we ever had. A great hunter, trained our new pups to hunt and snuggle girl. She could almost talk, the hurt never goes away, just remember all the great times together…..

  51. Maria torres says:

    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.

  52. Patty Rohrkemper says:

    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.

  53. Deb says:

    Thank you.

  54. Lynnn says:

    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.

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