By Robin Jean Brown

The death of a beloved pet is something that all of us animal lovers dread.  It’s probably even easiest not to think of this possibility until absolutely necessary.  That, of course, is our natural response.  So what can we do when we are confronted with the passing of a canine friend?  I’ll tell you.

It will be emotionally draining to come to terms with the death of a dog whether you’ve had time to plan for the final goodbye or not.  It is important to remember that you can and will live through this difficult time not just for yourself, but for your beloved furbaby as well.

Those of us who choose to improve our lives and those of animals by living with canine companions know that our animals want, above all, for us to be happy.  Living through your dog’s death is a tribute to him or her.

Follow the W O O F technique to begin to live through the pain:

WAIT – The death of a pet is a highly emotional time during which it is hard to make decisions very clearly.  The first step to living through this time is simply to wait.  Take some time to breathe, to calm yourself, and to think about what needs to be done.

Write your thoughts and ideas down in a journal, make a “to do” list, let yourself grieve.  Not allowing yourself the necessary downtime will just make the process more difficult.

OWN YOUR FEELINGS – Step two is to really come to terms with your feelings and accept them.  You will feel the entire spectrum of emotions.  It is reasonable to expect that you will feel angry and betrayed, that you’ll be overwhelmed by sadness, or even that you’ll laugh when you have a funny memory of your pet.

Whatever the feeling you’re having, accept it.  Use a journal to write down your feelings.  It will help you to see the progressions in your emotions.  Know that all of your feelings are justified.  It is what makes you a living and compassionate being.

OFFER YOUR MEMORIES – Once you’ve started to work through and accept your feelings, it’s time to remember your dog.  First write about your pet:  How long was he/she with you?  Where did he/she come from?  What memories do you have?  Collect any pictures you have and think about the life you had with your dog.  Share your stories and photos with family and friends who love you and your dog.  Ask them for their recollections.

This celebration of your dog will help to remind you that above all he/she wanted you to be happy and that his/her happiest moments were spent being with and living with you.  Respect your dog’s life by continuing to live yourself.

FREE YOURSELF – Finally, free yourself from the pain and the guilt that inevitably come with the death of a loved one.  Know that your dog is at peace and does not blame you for his/her death.  Open yourself up to living and loving.  When you free yourself to live, you will allow yourself to be open to new possibilities.   Work to improve the lives of other dogs through volunteer work or donations. Eventually you may want to share your home with another pet.  Life has unending potential if you allow yourself to live.

Living through the death of a dog is not something that happens overnight.  Take the time that you need to come to terms with the death, but don’t prevent yourself from living.  Know that you are not alone; your canine companion is always in your heart and always wants the best for you.  Remember the steps:  Wait, Own your feelings, Offer your memories, Free yourself.  Follow the W O O F and live happily.


Robin Jean Brown is author of an ebook on pet loss, which you can download by going to: