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Losing a pet

Note: Thank you to Kathleen Chamberlin, author of “Marcy Mary: The Memoirs of a Dachshund-American Princess, The Early Years” for sharing her thoughts on losing a pet. Her book is about the adventures of a dachshund puppy adopted by a suburban family. You can learn more about Kathleen and her book at

The loss of a loved one is traumatic, a time when many of us call upon our faith. Pets are loved ones and I’m convinced that faith is meant to sustain us when a pet dies.

I was reminded of the depth of a pet’s loss as I watched a “fifty something” woman with huge tears glistening in her eyes. She was telling me about her childhood dog, Petey. This faithful collie walked her to school every morning and was waiting to walk her home when the school day was over.

Although Petey, who had become Old Pete, died many years ago, his loss was still keenly felt in the heart of a schoolgirl who was now a mature woman.

TahoeDog[1]Recently, my husband and I were walking our two dachshunds, Noodle and Archie, through the neighborhood. A woman was walking toward us. When she spotted the dogs, she put her hands to her mouth and uttered a heartfelt “oooh.”

Within seconds she was greeting the dogs, petting them and silently crying. We were soon joined by her husband who could not keep his hands off Noodle, an auburn mini with a gray muzzle. Noodle was lavishing this stranger with many wet kisses. They told us that Tootsie, their auburn mini had died just a few weeks before.

They took out a cell phone and showed us a picture of Tootsie. She did indeed bear an uncanny resemblance to Noodle.

Was this a chance meeting? Perhaps. I will say this: these people were visitors in the neighborhood who just happened to be outside when we were walking the dogs.

Last year, a dear friend from across the country was visiting us when his cherished cat died. We supported him with listening, love and prayer, but the visit was touched by the deep pain of his loss. As he spoke of Sprocket, it was clear that the bond he had with his feline companion was very strong.

A few months later, I received an e-mail from this friend. He and his wife heard Sprocket walk across the hardwood floors. At times, my friend said he sensed Sprocket’s presence.

I didn’t think much about this at the time, thinking it under “maybe.” But then I had a similar personal experience.

My husband is a pragmatist, very down to earth, and not given to unusual experiences. But we were sitting on our sofa, with Archie and Noodle snoozing contentedly between us, when we heard the sound of a dachshund flapping its ears — a very distinctive sound.

My husband went to investigate. No one was in the house and no one was outside. Was it our beloved Loopy-doxie, who had left us not long before? Does the special bond between us and pets that have passed sometimes breach time and space? I simply don’t know.

As the stories above illustrate, the loss of a pet is particularly poignant. Those of us who believe in a hereafter may wonder if our pets will join us there. We envision a place of happiness, fulfillment and joy that a benevolent Creator has prepared for us. Here we will rejoin loved ones.

I am certain that a Creator, who cares enough about us to prepare this wonderful place, will also reunite us with our cherished pets. This belief helps me tremendously when memories intrude and I need to hold Tigger the cat or Loopy the dog — our dearly departed — just one more time.

Kathleen is pictured with her dachshund Trixie-Noodle.


Tuesday 9th of November 2010

I am have scheduled the vet to come put my dog to sleep tomorrow. I am having a terrible time determining if this is the right decision. She is a 14 and a half shepherd mix with arthritis. I have tried all the drugs the vet had and they made her worse. I went down to MSM and Glucosamine. She can barely get around and falls down when going to the bathroom and a lot of times falls into her poo. She has had assidents in the house as well. Her eyes look saddened. However, she still lives for my attention and greets me when I get home. She has never really yelped in pain. I just am having such a hard time with this. I want her to go with dignity!! Does anyone have any guidance?

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 9th of November 2010

I am so sorry you have to make this decision. I know how much you love your dog.

No one can tell you what to do. You have to trust yourself and do what you think is right. I would definitely spend some time with her doing something she really loves on her last day. Maybe it's a car ride. Maybe it's just some good cuddle time in your bed or on a blanket on the floor. I imagine myself pulling Ace in a wagon when he's old, just so he can still get out for a "walk" with me, which he loves.

We put our golden retriever down when she could no longer walk on her own, eat or drink. She was not showing obvious pain, but she was very distant. Dogs are very good at hiding their pain, though.

I will be thinking of you and your dog.


Tuesday 9th of November 2010

It's never easy to know when the right time is but you are her mom and you can trust what you are seeing. They do not necessarily show pain the way we do or the way we think they should.

Both times I had to help mine go, I had spent a long time providing them with doggie "hospice" and then there was just a point when it was obvious. In both cases it was clear that their quality of life was not there. I had to let go of my ideas of right and wrong time and just see that they were telling me it was time.

If you see that it is time, spend time with her and give her your love. That is the best thing and you will always be glad in the future that you did your best.

THAT MUTT: A Dog Blog » How to help a child who has lost a dog

Thursday 1st of July 2010

[...] and Ginger, I realized that many children are left to sort things out for themselves when they lose a pet. Emma’s parents supported her through Shane’s final days, acknowledging the powerful and [...]


Saturday 14th of November 2009

Wonderful words. But then that's what you do. You are so eloquent. Can't wait for the next book. Noodle's, Archie's, Jazz's, Lola's, Daisy's, what a great place heaven will be.

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 13th of November 2009

I can't imagine a "heaven" without my dogs.

Heather Scholle

Thursday 12th of November 2009

Great post. At a time when loss has so many faces, it is often our pets with their consistent adoration that get us through. I look forward to seeing Rex.