About Coping With the Death of a Puppy

Choosing to bring a puppy in to your home is a joyous and exciting time! I have never met a puppy that I didn’t instantly fall in love with. I’m not sure how a puppy captures our heart so quickly, but I know that they do. I’m pretty sure that if each of us didn’t love our puppy, we wouldn’t put up with their messes. Or the howling through the night. Or their insistence on redesigning the living room carpet.

Or the little scars from puppy teeth. Or, Or, Or… Yes, each of us falls in love with our puppy!

Whether you have lived with your puppy for one day or 3 months it is difficult to hear bad news about your puppy.  Unfortunately, puppies are susceptible to illness, accidents and injuries just like us humans. It is my sincere hope that you never experience the death of a puppy. If you do, then I hope you will find help in this article.

Recently, a friend of mine brought home a new Great Dane puppy. He carefully introduced the puppy to his two adult Great Danes. After appearing to accept the puppy, the male Dane viciously and without provocation killed the puppy less then 48 hours after her arrival. My friend was devastated. He had many emotions to work through. First, was the grief of losing the puppy, even though he had not had her long. Second, was the guilt for putting the puppy into the situation where she was killed.

Next, was the sense of betrayal and violation of trust that he now felt towards his adult Dane.  He certainly had a lot to cope with!

A client of mine brought home a beautiful Golden Retriever puppy. She had been waiting a long time for this pup. She had plans to show her in the breed ring and to do Obedience Competition.

She also had wanted the puppy to eventually be a therapy dog. She had this puppy’s life and training mapped out for two years. Unfortunately, the puppy was diagnosed with a rare and painful genetic disorder.  Despite the best veterinary care available, it became clear that this puppy was suffering and her quality of life was just not going to improve.

A puppy that belonged to a friend of my son's contracted parvovirus. Unfortunately, this young man did not have the resources to treat the puppy. Tragically he had to have the puppy euthanized.

I could tell you lots of stories but the chances are good that if you are reading this article that you have your own story. Please don’t listen to well meaning people who tell you that you are being silly for being upset about losing a puppy! My guess is they just don’t know what to say and said the wrong thing! The human/animal bond is deep and precious. It doesn’t matter how long you shared life with your puppy, the loss is real. A good online resource to find someone local to help you is goodtherapy.org.

One of the toughest decisions in life is the one to euthanize a pet. I think we are fortunate that we do not have this choice with humans! With my own pets I use the quality of life guideline.

If my pet does not recognize me or seek comfort from me then I know it is time for the choice. If my pet has lost bowel and bladder and control with no hope of it returning, then I know it is time. If my pet is in pain or suffering from frequent seizures, then I know it is time. I personally stay with my pet during euthanasia, but this does not necessarily mean that is the right choice for you.

Another decision you will be making is what to do with your puppy’s remains. Please think twice before choosing to bury your puppy. There may be local ordinances against burying a pet. There is also the issue of what to do when you move. Cremation is usually the best choice. You can choose mass cremation or private. With the private cremation you receive an urn with your puppy’s ashes. There are pet cemeteries, many offering burial services.

You are the only one that knows what choice is right for you.

I have found it very comforting to gather up my puppy’s possessions and donate them to a local rescue group. When the time is right to get another puppy you will want to get her own things. I also make a donation to our local humane society in my pup’s name. I want to remember her and I want others to remember her too!

You may find comfort from http://www.rainbowbridge.com/​. This is a very well thought out website for grieving pet owners. I have had to say goodbye to many canine friends in my life and it certainly doesn’t get any easier! I have cried over still-born puppies and grieved for puppies only a few days old. Grief is real and there is no rhyme or reason for it.

Only you will know when you are ready to adopt a new puppy! The important thing is get a puppy because you truly want to share your life with a puppy. Some people recommend that you change breeds or if you had a female puppy then to get a male puppy now. Choose your puppy by what you want instead of what someone else thinks you should want. Good luck and remember that the day you get your new friend is the day to start building your relationship.