Mourning the loss of a dog that hasn’t died

Image Courtesy Kimberley Spinney
Image Courtesy Kimberley Spinney /

Mourning a dog doesn’t have to mean they died

Whether because of a breakup, a roommate situation dissolving, or even having to give a dog away because of something happening in the home, there are times in our life when we have to say goodbye to a beloved pup (or pups). And when that happens, we often find ourselves in mourning for the loss.

While some people may say that there is nothing to mourn because the dog is still alive and (hopefully) well, the reality is that this is still a major loss. Even if you didn’t consider yourself to truly be the dog’s owner, it is hard to stay detached from an animal that seems to offer unconditional love.

And even if you know that the pup is still going to be well taken care of and loved, that doesn’t mean we can’t mourn this loss. In fact, at times, this sense of mourning can feel even greater than when a pup actually does pass away.

Mourning the loss of a dog is natural

Although we already know that it is perfectly understandable and expected that we would be in mourning when a dog dies, when you know the pup is still around and happily living their life without you, it can be an unexpected pain that is hard to describe.

We grow attached to the dogs we live with and if they have been with us for a long period of time, we feel a sense of commitment to the pup that makes it hard to say goodbye.

How many times did you cuddle with that pup or take them for a walk? How many conversations did you have with this fur baby, even knowing that they weren’t going to respond to you?

Having to walk away from any dog that you have helped care for in some way is a loss. It is a loss that must be mourned. And it is something that hurts.

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We are saying goodbye to more than a dog. We are saying goodbye to a chapter of our lives, a companion, and a friend. This means that we have experienced a loss and that requires a period of mourning.

No matter what the situation is or even if you get the chance to spend time with that pup again, it is never the same as it once was. We mourn for what once was and the love of an animal who did nothing but love us and maybe chew up a few things they shouldn’t have.

Saying goodbye is never easy. But when we have to say goodbye to a beloved animal, it can often feel even harder than we could have ever imagined.

For me, saying goodbye to two rescue pups was hard. And when it came to the one pup, who had been with us the longest, that was the one that hurt the most. He was never really mine, but for nearly two years, he was my constant companion, so saying goodbye was truly devastating. After months of mourning, I can see pictures and smile, but I will admit that hurt is hard to let go of.

If you find yourself mourning a dog that is still alive, but no longer with you, then know that you are not alone. The pain fades and perhaps you will find a new pup to love. Whatever happens, know that it is okay to mourn this loss, and it is okay to admit that it hurts. These are more than just animals, they are family.

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Have you had to say goodbye to a pup because of a breakup or a change in living situation? Did you find yourself mourning this loss? Let us know in the comments.