Most of us share an intense bond with our pets, yet when they die, the pain and loss can feel as devastating as losing a loved family relative
By Published on 20 Mar 2019
Sharing strong bonds with our pets
Many non-pet owners who have never experienced a loving, close relationship with a pet, cannot understand the grief we suffer when losing a dog. Many people think it’s just a reaction that we will soon get over. However, dog lovers know the truth – it’s never easy to cope with the feelings and emotions when a beloved pet dies or is put to sleep.
More people grieve over losing a dog than losing a loved one
Recent research, in Phycology Today, reports that the grief and upset that humans feel when they need to say goodbye to a loved dog or cat is comparable to losing a human loved one. Unfortunately, when we mourn the loss of a pet there is generally no religious service, no obituary in the local paper, no standard grief ritual to help us to cope with this. Many people are also too embarrassed to share their grief in public, when losing a dog.
Why is the bond with our dogs so intense?
Most pet owners have interacted with their dogs from when they were tiny puppies. In some cases, the dog is the person’s only social interaction with the outside world. When losing a dog can feel devastating there are many reasons we feel such terrible grief.
Losing unconditional love
Our dogs don’t judge our imperfections or insecurities. They totally accept us regardless of our actions and feelings, in a way that our loved ones sometimes don’t.
The loss of a dependant
Having a dog means that many of the actions we carry out each day are very similar to looking after a child. We are responsible for these pets and many of our daily activities are to enhance their lives.
No more routines
Losing your dog also means the end of daily routines like walks in the park and feeding time. Pets often comfort us in times of need and distress yet they never contradict our thoughts and emotions as other family members might do.
Even in these modern times it’s still not openly acceptable to grieve when losing your dog or cat. Many pet owners suffer this loss intolerably and find it just as emotional as losing a loved family member. The issue of pet bereavements needs to be treated and handled with great compassion and support.