There are many reasons, that for some, losing a dog can be more difficult than losing a human family member or friend.
Often, we spend more time with and give more attention to our dog than anyone else. They make us laugh, comfort us when we are sad and provide constant companionship when we let them.
They offer us their unconditional love and acceptance, and sometimes, they are the only being who seems to do so. Their lack of judgment is hard to come by in the human world.
“I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source.”
― Doris Day
That is so true!
Our dogs are completely dependent on us for their care. In essence, we are responsible for their survival, and therefore to some extent, unfortunately, their death. We are the decision makers when it comes to their care and well-being, so the circumstances surrounding the death adds an additional depth to the bond we share and further layers of emotion.
While we absolutely communicate with our dogs, it has its limits; we can be left wondering if they knew how much we loved them or if we made the right decisions for their care. When a close relative or friend is sick or dying, we may be able to speak the previously unspoken apology or assure each other of love. While we know in our hearts our dogs offered unconditional love, the sadness that envelops us when they die can prevent us from feeling this as truth.
Our daily routines become completely disrupted. We can be left with no longer having a sense of purpose, particularly if we don’t have any other animals, 2-legged children or spouse to come home to and care for. For many, their dog is the first being they attend to upon waking and the last upon day’s end. Therefore, there are constant reminders that our dog is no longer with us, and what we focus upon is responsible for our feelings.
Our dogs often provide us with an identity. How many dog parents know all the dogs’ names in the neighborhood, but not necessarily all the guardians’? It can be very lonely to walk the neighborhood after one’s dog has passed, only to no longer be recognizable to those you thought you ‘knew’. Our dogs gave us the means to connect, and without that, life can lose some of its luster and much of its joy.
It’s likely I haven’t even touched upon all the reasons losing our dog can be so difficult. Please add to this list in the comments below.