May 3rd, 2022 was a sad day for Doggy Grub. The day we had to say goodbye to our dog Betty.
Betty was the inspiration behind Doggy Grub. As a very overweight rescue dog, we wanted to create healthy meals, at home, to help her thrive and be happy.
Fresh food completely transformed Betty in the best possible way: more energy, healthy coat, perfect blood results at every vet visit.
While a healthy diet and lifestyle kept her alive and well for a long time, at 14yrs old, she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.
Just like that, one day, you are face with what you have dreading all along - your dog’s mortality.
With only a couple of months to live, we decided to make her as comfortable as possible, managing symptoms such as seizures, and finally, we made the decision to say goodbye, at home- the hardest decision of our life.
How can we explain to her what is happening? Should we have done more? How are we going to cope without her in our lives?
These were some of the questions we kept asking ourselves, and we wanted to share the tools that have helped us then and since.
Why does it hurt so much?
Psychologists have pointed out that losing a pet is so painful because we don’t just lose an animal, we lose a source of comfort, unconditional love, and a true companion. Your relationship with your pet is unique and they have distinctive qualities that only you can know.
Pet loss needs to be taken seriously. Symptoms of acute grief can last for up to two months, with heartache continuing for years. It can be as painful as losing a relative, with some people reporting being more heartbroken when they lost their fur companion than when they lost a parent.
Strategies to cope with the loss of a pet
- Allow yourself to feel all the feelings surrounding grief- sadness, heartache, guilt, anger. It is ok to cry and your feelings are completely valid.
- Practice self-compassion and self-care. Be kind to yourself! You are going through a very difficult period. Now is the time for self-care activities such as meditation, journaling, yoga… I found walking was too difficult as it reminded me of all the walks we did with Betty, and I would recommend finding new areas if walking is an activity your enjoy.
- Talk to someone who understands. Anyone who has had a fur companion understands the pain that comes with losing them. Sharing memories and feelings in a compassionate and caring setting can be extremely comforting.
- Give yourself time to heal! The grieving process takes time so don’t try to rush it. Others might tell you that you should already be over it, but only YOU know when your heart is mended. Don’t succumb to the pressure yourself or others are putting on your grieving time.
- Create a memorial. Consider finding a way to honour your pet and the love you felt, whether it is a small altar with photos and objects your pet loved, a framed pawprint or a painting.
The guilt of choosing euthanasia
When you are faced with the incredibly hard decision to say goodbye, the feeling of guilt can rear its ugly head!
In our case, the insidious thing with a brain tumour is that Betty seemed to be doing fine. She was still excited to go on walks, play, and she certainly hadn’t lost her appetite! It left us feeling very guilty for even thinking about euthanasia and like we were letting her down as her caregivers.
In the end, as her condition worsened and with confirmation from the vet that it was only going to get worse, we went ahead with our decision of a home euthanasia.
If questions such as “What if they had more time?” or “Did we make the right decision?” come up for you, try and see euthanasia as an act of compassion and the last gift you can give your pet.
Pets are very good at hiding their pain so trust the opinion of vets if they tell you that it is time to say goodbye.
Betty was a gorgeous girl. Sweet with the ones she trusted, protective with the ones she loved, but with a strong character. She made sure birds understood that the garden was hers and other dogs didn’t get too much attention from her hoomans.
Her departure leaves a big hole in our hearts, and we will miss her dearly but we are glad her legacy can live on in every Doggy Grub meal.
Thanks to her, thousands of doggies get to eat healthy food.
If you’re struggling to go on or your grief makes it impossible for you to perform daily tasks, please seek professional help.
Griefline 1300 845 745 (free telephone support).
Some of the books that have helped us:
The Grief Recovery Handbook for Pet Loss, by Russel Friedman, Coles James, and John W.James.
When it’s time to say goodbye, preparing for the transition of your beloved pet, by Angela Garner.
Lost companions, reflections of the death of pets, by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson.
Loss, love and lessons, Healing pet loss and grief, by Lara Casanova.
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The Doggy Grub blog is dedicated to helping dogs and their owners achieve happier, healthier lives, changing the way we feed our dogs one bowl at a time! If you would like to know more about our fresh food head to Doggy Grub