Shared by, Laurie Dolan
My Newfoundland dog, Killian, graced my life for 12 years. During her life, she was a constant companion and friend. Looking back, I realize she was “that one special dog” who forever changed my heart.
Although it has been almost six years since Killian’s passing, I get a catch in my throat and a tear in my eye, when I talk about her. I hope sharing my thoughts with you will heal my heart a tiny bit more.
Go places with your dog:
I initially met many of my good friends (in 4 different cities!) with Killian doing things that I love.
- Socialize: Seek out pet-friendly cafes, shops, and wine bars. At the very least, go on walks through your neighborhood.
- Volunteer: Killian was amazing therapy dog and we volunteered at hospitals and schools. A large dog, Killian was the perfect size for her head to rest perfectly on wheelchairs and hospital beds.
Make memories early on:
- Photos: Have a lifestyle photographer take photos of you with your pet when they are feeling well. Turn those photos into art for your home.
- Videos: Take videos so you will be able to remember your pet full of life. Memories will fade over time. You will want to remember how they breathe, how they blink their eyes, and how they wag their tail.
Preparing for the end:
- Arrange for a “Joy Session”, taking photos of your beloved pet towards the end is tough task, but the process helps with closure.
- Know your vet hours and closest emergency vet location.
- Be familiar with options for euthanasia, including veterinarians who are willing to come to your house.
Memorializing your pet:
- Put all of your special keepsakes in a display jar (collar, favorite toy, paw print, various photos and cards)
- Put your pet’s collar id tag on your keychain
- Donate leashes, toys, beds, bowls, etc. to charity (if they make you sad)
- Foster (speaking from experience, fostering kittens is very rewarding)
- Connect: You may not be ready to adopt a new friend right away, but engaging on social media for animal rescues is rewarding.
- Be prepared for a void. It will be difficult to return to an empty house. Even if you have other pets, your home may feel empty. If possible, get out of town for a few days. Change your routine. For days, I felt I could hear my dog’s collar and her breathing when it was quiet.
- Visit an animal-focused pet therapist to help you process your loss.
When is the right time to get another pet?
- Only you will know. Some people want to save an animal from a shelter right away, while it may take others much longer. The saddest comment I hear is, “The loss of my pet was too much. I don’t want to feel that way again.”
- At the very least, please get involved with rescue groups.
While Killian has been gone for several years, she left an imprint on my soul. I now have a two-year old human toddler at home. It is important for me that she is raised around animals. Although it has not been easy to share a small space with two large dogs (and a rotating cast of foster kittens) I wouldn't have it any other way.