Monday, February 2, 2015

Dealing with the Loss of a Pet is Difficult for Everyone

Phoenix the Dog

Over the past nine years, a lot of animals have passed through the doors of The Zoo. People call us “The Zoo” for a reason. While many came and went, three family members that have remained the same are; Aries the Cat, Phoenix the Dog and Reina the Dog.

And so it was until January 2014, when suddenly, Aries went into full renal failure and passed away. Even though Aries was in her 18th year of life, I thought that she would live forever. Seriously. I wasn’t prepared for her passing in the least. Not that you can be anyways.

As for Phoenix, since we first set eyes on him in November 2006, he has been in poor health. Neglected, malnourished, neurological issues due to abuse, cataracts, two torn knee ligaments (cruciates), hip displasia and colitis. There’s probably more. Even with all of that, he was in excellent health and you wouldn’t know anything of his past from the smile on his face. Yes, the guy smiled.

When he had his first grand mal seizure in October 2013 we were concerned. We had him checked out and did blood tests but nothing was found to be a miss. Within 24 hours he recovered to close to 100%. We didn’t think anything of it. Life continued on.

This past September, almost a year later, he suffered his second seizure and this one was not like the first. While he survived it, he almost didn’t as I’d made an appointment to have him put to rest. But it wasn’t his time as The Phoenix Rose Again!

Even though he only recovered to about 50%, he could still get around, wag his tail, get underfoot and his Vet was impressed with his test results (given his history). Most importantly, she didn’t believe him to be in any pain. Life didn’t continue on the same this time.

Before we left for Mexico, we knew that he wouldn’t be coming home. Or, depending upon how you look at things, he WAS going home. So, when he started to cough constantly and lose weight rapidly even though he was eating normally we knew that our time was limited. Xrays confirmed an enlarged heart and we knew that it was time. On Friday, January 23, while gazing into my eyes, he took his last breath.

Today, he rests alongside Aries in our backyard. The Kids chat with them daily and are excited to mark his grave with a plant so it too may flourish like Aries has. He will not be forgotten.

Just thinking about it now has me in a puddle of tears. And even though I wasn’t prepared for his death, I knew that he was ill. I was expecting it sooner rather than later. What I didn’t expect was to see how Reina has dealt with his loss.

Loss is Difficult for Pets Too

Reina American Staffordshire Bull Terrier

This picture of Reina was taken last February, for a post on American Staffordshire Bull Terriers, however, it could have been taken any time in the past week.

When we were putting Phoenix in the van for his last trip, she wanted to come with us so badly and even knocked down the gate to get to us. Very uncharacteristic of her. It’s like she knew. Since that day, she’s not the same dog that she was. She’s hardly lifted her head, occasionally wags her tail when given a bone and sleeps in her cage

In dealing with our loss, we forgot that Reina and Phoenix spent every single minute together over the past (almost) nine years. Sure Phoenix drove us crazy with his enthusiasm sometimes but he never bothered Reina. She loved his companionship, body heat and constant licks.

We’re not ready for another dog at this time, however, we’re discussing taking in our neighbours dog for the remaining few months to keep her company. In the meantime, we will cherish the time that we have with her and know that we are helping to prolong her life by keeping her healthy.

Have you Ever Dealt with the Loss of a Pet?

Disclosure: The Zoo is proud to be an Ambassador for Petcurean, an independent, Canadian-owned family business that’s been around since 1999. Find them on Facebook and Twitter. Watch for our upcoming Petcurean giveaways and other related posts.

53 thoughts on “Dealing with the Loss of a Pet is Difficult for Everyone

  1. René

    We have experienced this type of loss, and it is certainly hard on the remaining fur members of the family. I really feel for poor Reina.
    Today I happen to be headed to the vet too, as Edward the cat has expected FLUTD. I read the article on the petcurean site just now and know a bit more for it, so thanks.
    RIP dearest Phoenie. You lived a good life and will be missed by is all.

  2. Brandi

    So sorry for your loss! It’s such a heartbreaking moment to lose a family member – human or animal, but hope you can take comfort in knowing you were there with him during his last breath <3

  3. Peggy

    Oh Sarah, I’m so sorry for your loss. In my opinion, there are only two things wrong with dogs. The first is that they cannot tell us exactly how they are feeling and what is wrong when you know that they are sick. The other thing is that they don’t live nearly long enough. Hopefully the memories of all of the happy times you had together will be a comfort to you now.
    Peggy recently posted…Hair like Casey, Nose like FinneganMy Profile

  4. Sandy

    Awww Sarah, I’m SO very sorry to hear about the loss of your dear Phoenix 🙁 Big hugs to you and your family. I have dealt with the loss of a beloved pet many times, and it never gets easier. You know it’s coming, you know it will happen, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter. You still miss them just as much, and it’s still just as hard. I shed a couple of tears reading your post about Phoenix. Wish I could give you a real hug. I always worry about the one left behind. I hope Reina is doing ok. I’m sure you are giving her lots of love and attention these days. xoxo
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  5. MBAMama

    I am so sorry for your loss. Sir Winston turned ten yesterday and he is in poor health Our time left with him is short I am not quite ready to face his end yet Thank you for loving him enough to do what was best for him and to be with him until the very end I have no doubt he knew that you were loving him more in that moment than any before Big hugs my friend

  6. Soozle

    Oh dear 🙁 I am so sorry to hear of your loss! Losing a pet is not easy, by any means – they truly are members of the family!

    I had a little dog that had to be put down just shy of his 15th birthday – he had been ill and long and short of it, his appenix ruptured. At his age, they had known it was infected but couldn’t operate.. medication was a shot in the dark, that didn’t work…. so basically the decision to put him down was made for us when it ruptured. That was by far one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire life and I think I cried harder over his loss than I have over the loss of some people (I know that sounds terrible, but this was like a child to me)… Its been a few years now and I still miss the little guy!

  7. Elizabeth Matthiesen

    So sorry to hear your bad news, at the moment tears are rolling down my face onto my desk and making a puddle. My heart goes out to all of you, hugs

  8. Jo-Anne Pfoh

    I cannot stop crying, I am just so sorry to hear about Phoenix’s passing. To this very day I cannot speak openly about my Doom. I wrote a book and have never actually read it. We often forget about our other furry friends when we lose a pet. I love that you recognize Reina’s pain and are looking for ways to help her through her grief. You are an amazing family and a fabulous mom and pet owner.

  9. Kelly

    Sarah, saying I’m sorry is not enough.
    I’m a blubbering idiot when it comes to our pets.
    It’s been almost 5 years since loosing our Golden Retriever “Winnie” and to this day I can’t talk about her without tearing up!
    I said I would never have another dog because I couldn’t go through it again, but then Edie came along and helped my heart mend.
    Big hugs to you and your family xxoo
    Love Kelly & Edie
    Kelly recently posted…Done with WinterMy Profile

  10. Matthew Tully

    Wow Sarah, I seriously had a hard time reading this knowing how hard it still must be for you. We are pet people as well and probably remember us losing Holly, one of our cats a few months back during a very freak accident indoors that we can’t even explain. That’s not important though. What is as I’m sure you know is remembering the times that Phoenix made laugh and smile that type of smile because he may have done something goofy as dogs do to make us smile…. It’s like you say, when you have a pet that long they are “gone, but not forgotten”. I can say that writing this, I have tears welling up thinking about your loss and the happy memories flooding back from our late feline friend. Time will help to heal and our families thoughts are with you!

    Matthew Tully recently posted…#Skylanders Swap Force and Trap Team by Cadence Tully via @sherritullyMy Profile

  11. Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life

    I’m in tears just reading this. We have a “zoo” as well. Currently, we have 7 animals (4 cats, 3 dogs) and over the years we have had 4 other cats and 2 other dogs. We always adopt rescue so they’re usually older, although the 4 cats we have now were adopted young. It’s always hard to say goodbye and their animal companions are devastated too. I feel for you. 2 of our dogs are seniors and I can’t stand the thought of losing them. They’re in great health right now but that can change overnight when you’re older. And one had a seizure last year that was quite scary. My thoughts are with you.
    Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life recently posted…Lemony Chicken and Cabbage Soup with QuinoaMy Profile

  12. Tara Gauthier

    Sorry to hear of your loss.

    We had a scare with our Puppy a few weeks ago. He snuck out the door and while we were trying to get him in the house, he ran into the street and got run over. This story is the stuff of miracles because he came out of it with a cut on his paw and some soft tissue damage. No broken bones, internal injuries like bleeding, torn bladder or diaphragm. After an emergency visit (on a Sunday so call out) to the vet he was sent home with painkillers and anti-inflammatory for a few days and now is completely fine. The only lasting effect at this point was having to get him shaved as we couldn’t brush him just as his adult coat came in so he got matted.

    I was so terrified we were going to lose him, we were not ready to say goodbye after only spending four months with him.

  13. Chantal A

    I am so sorry for your family loss of a beloved family member. It is such a hard thing to go through and you are never prepared for it, even when you know it’s coming. It breaks my heart to see the picture of your other dog Reina so depressed, I have a weak spot for American Staffordshire Terriers. Several years ago we had a big scare with ours, Cage, he had to have open heart surgery and stay several weeks at the University of Guelph. It cost me over $9,000 for the surgery and the vet visits before and after and I would do it all over again. Cage lived a normal healthy life after the surgery for 4 more years. We had him for 11 years that I will never forget.

    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Chantal,

      Thank you for your kind words. To know a Staffie is to love them. I even wrote a post about it 🙂

      Reina had her knee replaced 4 years ago and although she isn’t the pup that she used to be, we’re so happy to still have her around. Nine years and counting.

      Cage was so lucky to have you as his family and you were fortunate to have him. Gone but not forgotten.

      Besos Sarah
      Sarah recently posted…Experience the Magic of Disney on Ice: Worlds of Fantasy, CAN, 2/19 #DisneyonIceInsiderMy Profile

  14. Lisa Ehrman

    So sorry. It’s always been so hard when our pets have died, too. It’s especially hard on the kids. I am glad that you shared your post with us over at Together on Tuesdays.

  15. Sarah J

    Popping over from Together on Tuesdays =) I’m so sorry for your losses. I’ll have to be honest, I didn’t get thru the whole post, I was tearing up. I started a post on how to grieve before you had to grieve so the loss wouldn’t be as painful. It was in preparation for letting my dog go. Never got it finished because he when unexpectedly this past November. Miss him everyday… Be sure to share your crafts & DIYs at Two Uses Tuesday (Mon 11pm EST to Fri 11pm EST, February is a month long!) over at Sarah Celebrates if you don’t already!

    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Sarah,

      Thank you so much for stopping by.

      When I lost my son, I tried to pretend like it didn’t matter (not that he didn’t matter) but it didn’t work for very long. We all try and cope with loss our own way but it’s not easy. Thanks for sharing a piece of your story.

      Besos Sarah
      Sarah recently posted…Start this Fun Birthday Tradition with Your Kids!My Profile

  16. Janet Barclay

    Sarah, that is heartbreaking. We had two cats, Dusty and Bitey, from the time they were kittens. (Dusty was about 6 months older; we got Bitey to keep her company. They were part of our family for 12 and 13 eventful years, being with us through some major life challenges and living with us in three different homes. We lost Bitey first to a kitty form of breast cancer, and Dusty less than a year later, probably from something similar to Aries. After that, my husband said “no more cats” but I won out and a couple months later we got Tasha, and now we also have a dog named Carly. We dread the day when they are no longer with us.

  17. Aliya D

    I am sorry about your loss. I don’t have any pets as my lifestyle does not allow for it, but I am quite attached to a few animals at work (we have a dog-friendly office). I’d be pretty devastated if anything happened to them.


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