I underestimated how long it would take me to get over the death of my dog. Today marks one year since I unexpectedly had to make the decision to let him go. It was traumatic. It was the most emotionally painful thing I’ve ever gone through (and I’ve been through some shit). I lost my best friend.
I fully admit to being a “crazy dog lady”. I like dogs better than most people and if there’s a dog at a social event, you’ll find me with it. I knew that losing Ozzy would be hard, but I don’t think I expected real and full grief.
I was in denial. I was angry. I questioned my choice and whether or not anything could have been done. (Nothing could, but I insisted on torturing myself with the “what ifs”.) I spent a few days just above catatonic, moving only to eat and use the bathroom. I saw Ozzy everywhere. I blamed my husband for not being there and blamed him for being the one who ultimately delivered the decision to the vet. (He was out of town for work, but I asked him to call the vet’s office and tell them we were going to let him go). It put a good amount of stress on our marriage.
I was grieving and depressed for months. In some ways I still am. There’s even a new little pup in our household and he is sweet and cute and a total love bug, but he’s no Ozzy.
Ozzy hated pretty much everyone. He would growl, snap, and bite when he was afraid. He didn’t like other dogs (with the exception of our neighbor, Babe, the senior lady Pug) and wasn’t too fond of humans either. He chased squirrels and pigeons and just about anything else. He had to wear a vest that said “Do Not Pet”. But, he was adorable and attracted a lot of attention. He had a deep soul and a lot of spirit. And, at the risk of going into full crazy dog lady land, he had a sense of humor. Seriously, that dog was hilarious. Needless to say, we understood each other on a soul level. I referred to myself as his Emotional Support Human. After he died, I realized just how much emotional support he gave me too.
It’s ok to take the time you need for grief and it’s ok to grieve for the loss of a pet. It’s ok to miss that pet and to tell stories about it and to look at pictures. It’s ok to get another pet. There is no “standard of mourning” as far as I know and, from my experience, the pain will start to lessen, but it might no go away. And that’s ok, too. It’s what makes us human.