Those who have lost a dog know that it can truly be a devastating experience. The pain can be just as overwhelming as when we lose a family member or a friend. Because dogs are more than just a pet… they are a beloved member of our family. They change our lives by bringing happiness and emotional support, and they teach us how to be better humans.
There are several reasons why parting with a dog is so painful:
A special bond
Humans have been coexisting with different animal species, but their bond with dogs has always been quite different. Their ability to form emotional attachments with humans and their comprehension of human emotional states made them our loyal companions for thousands of years.
Studies have also shown that the connection between dogs and humans is just as strong as between humans and other humans. And most of us do treat our animal companions equally as we treat relatives or friends. We do talk to them like they are our best friends and in turn, they offer us their unconditional love and support.
We love dogs not only because they can form emotional attachments with us, but also because they love us unconditionally. Researchers suggest that pet owners are happier in the relationship with their pet rather than those with humans. The primary cause is that the experiences with humans can often turn out to be complicated and painful.
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These relationships often prevent us from experiencing pure unconditional love. On the other hand, dogs love us just as we are, and they also stay loyal to us even when we scorn or treat them unfairly. They are even capable of showing unwavering loyalty after the loss of their pet owner. We all know the story of the dog Hachiko who continued to wait for his diseased owner at the train station.
Suppressing the sorrow
The loss of a dog can be more difficult to get through because many people who never owned a dog perceive the mourning as an overreaction. Not everyone will understand that the death of a beloved dog can be just as painful as the passing away of a friend or a relative.
While we have grief rituals and counseling after losing a loved one, the pain after a loss of a canine companion is usually not taken very seriously. A person can be in a deep state of grief and mourning, but he will choose to suppress their feelings because they might be ashamed to publicly express their grief for an animal friend. Many will not even think of taking time off work because jobs usually show a lack of understanding as well.
If our dogs had health issues before losing their life, we might be overwhelmed with thoughts that we did not do enough for them. These things can make us feel guilty that can block us from getting through with the grief. Maybe a difficult decision was needed to be made to put our beloved canine to sleep to help end his suffering. All this can take a toll on our health and should never be overlooked by a professional counselor.
How can you work through the pain?
If you or a loved one has recently lost a pet, it’s important to find a healthy way to get through the grief. Don’t forget to take care of yourself during this difficult experience because the stress can make you neglectful of your physical and emotional needs. Honor your feelings and find someone you can talk to you and express your sadness.
There is nothing to feel guilty about because we all do the best we can for our dear animal friends. There is no correct way to work through this process, but remembering your beloved dog with love can help you get through the loss in a healthy way.