Hello! I Love You…Goodbye. Finding Peace in the Loss of Our Furry Family Members

Written by Laurie Yost, owner of Playful Pups Retreat.

Playful Pups Retreat is proud to be a Fear Free certified facility. Laurie also holds the highest level of certification through PACCC (Professional Animal Care Certification Council) with a CPACO certification (Certified Professional Animal Care Operator).

As pet care professionals and dog owners, our Playful Pups Retreat team appreciates the deep love and intensity that accompanies dog ownership. The impact dogs have on our lives is truly immeasurable. In my opinion, there is no love and devotion like that of a dog. Every dog is different as is every relationship between us and our dogs. Like us humans, dogs have varying personalities and behavioral traits. This can cause the relationship with a dog to take many different paths, but regardless of the dog one thing is certain, their love for us is endless and unconditional.

I have had a multi-dog household my entire adult life, going from two dogs, to three and at one time 11 dogs, plus the occasional foster, resided in our home.  After Playful Pups Retreat opened in 2010 and I founded Pitties Love Peace, a 501c3 dog rescue in 2012, the number of dogs in our home grew to the high point of 11 dogs. Now, please understand, having that many dogs in your home is not for the faint of heart and it requires dedication and a lot of management at times. We didn’t always have easy dogs and they didn’t always love each other.

Despite the occasional challenges, our home has been filled with immense love for many years thanks to our furry family. My husband and I have raised many dogs from puppy to senior, and we have opened our home and hearts to more than a few naughty adolescent dogs (aka juvenile delinquents) and delighted in every moment as they learned and matured to the point of being a perfect, and much calmer, frosty face old pup.

Lizzie in the snowAs I write this article, I am coming off a week of losing one of my personal dogs, Lizzie, who was 14 and suffering from chronic kidney disease. Then two days later I said “see you later” to Shorty, my mom’s dog of 12 years who was adopted through my rescue. The circumstances of each passing were drastically different, but both Lizzie and Shorty were exceptional dogs filled with tremendous love for life and their families. I cannot describe the emotions I feel, but if you are a dog owner, I know you understand. If you have ever endured the passing of a dog, you most certainly have felt the emptiness that comes with the loss.

shortySo how do you rebound after losing a pet? It differs for each of us, but we must allow ourselves time to process the circumstances surrounding the situation. For me, it makes a difference if a dog had a long term, chronic disease versus a sudden onset illness or accident. I have endured both options and either way the death is profound and painful, but it is different in the way I personally must grieve the loss. I will always allow myself to cry,  I also like to journal and remember the happy moments. I try to laugh a lot by recalling their antics and fun times over the years, then I will cry some more, generally as I look at their photos. I will likely eat large amount of chocolate as I work through the process of feeling every emotion.

Grief is going to vary for each of us, but it is imperative to allow yourself to feel the emotions that come with the loss of your beloved pet, but you cannot become the emotion. I believe we must be resilient in all areas of life and this is no different.

Every dog lover eventually suffers the loss of a dog and most of us do it over and over throughout our lives despite the pain we know we will endure at the end of their very brief lives. Some say they can never have another dog because they cannot bear the pain of letting them go. I will always take the inevitable pain of loss, simply because I cannot imagine a life without them.  The companionship a dog provides is outstanding, the conversation is exceptional…they love with their entire hearts and give that love without expectation or judgement.

So, for me, I will endure the pain of saying goodbye as many times as I am able, before I rejoin them at the end of my life, at the Rainbow Bridge, where we will be reunited.

The team at Playful Pups Retreat are passionate and committed in our life’s calling of providing the very best care for your beloved furry family members. We are excited and honored to share in your journey with them. To learn more about our facility check us out