The One Way All Dog Lovers Are The Same

Some folks like little smushy faced dogs. Others like tall elegant dogs with needle noses.

There are dog lovers who take their pups everywhere. And dog lovers who just stay home.

And let’s not even think about the different ways people feed their dogs.

But there’s one way every dog lover is the same.

And that’s the way we miss our dogs when they go.

Mike and Shadow loved to nap together.

Mike and Shadow loved to nap together.

If you don’t believe me, read the comments at 11 Steps to Grieving My Dog. Whether we lost a dog 30 days ago, 30 months ago, or 30 years ago, we all understand that aching grief.

Unfortunately, not everyone around us understands it. I can’t imagine what kind of moron would say to a grieving person, “It’s just a dog (or cat or guinea pig or ferret…). But apparently that’s a response that many grieving people get when they lose an animal friend.

The crazy thing is that, at times, grieving an animal is more intense than grieving a person. Why? Because our relationships with our animals are less complicated.

Humans wound each other.

In addition to the grief, loneliness, and sense of loss we feel when we lose a friend or family member, we have all kinds of other stuff to work out in our complicated relationships. But most of us don’t have complicated personal dynamics with our dogs.

Shadow and Mike post on the front steps.

C’mon you two. You’re supposed to be demonstrating the loving animal/human bond. Could we at least get a smile?

We love them. And they love us.

A man I know has told me twice how hurt he was that his children cried more when their dog died than when their grandfather died. For it to come up twice in our rare and casual conversations tells me that this is a deep wound for him.

I wonder if I should try to explain it to him. His kids loved their grandfather. But no grandfather will give a child everything they want from him.

Sometimes he’ll have to spend time with the grown ups instead of playing with the kids. He’ll live too far away to visit all the time. He may be distracted and give them less attention.

But your dog is always there. Just for you.

When you walk in the door, you’re the center of your dog’s whole world. Everyone should know what this feels like. And it’s the simplest and purest relationships most of us will ever know.

Our dogs aren’t perfect. But I’ve never felt let down or neglected by my dog. Probably none of us can say that about the humans in our lives.

Honey the Golden Retriever stands in Fall Creek gorge.

I bet I’m the only one in your life that has never complained when you suggested taking a walk.

So your choices for your dogs may not match mine. And your 11 steps of grief may be 27 or 3 or in some different order.

But we know how it feels to love and lose a dog. And that makes us just a little bit more the same. No matter how different we are.

Note: I’ve been very touched reading everyone’s comments to yesterday’s post. I may not have time to respond to each one personally but I’d like to thank everyone for sharing their love of their dogs with me. 

Stop by tomorrow to see where I go for a laugh. I have a feeling we’ll all need it. 

Your Turn: Do you find it different to mourn a dog than a human? How?


pet-blogger-hop-badgeToday is the Saturday Pet Blog Hop, hosted by Life With Dogs, Two Little Cavaliers and Confessions of the Plume. To join the fun, follow your three hosts, add your blog to the Linky and copy and paste the html code into your html editor. Thanks again to our hosts for hosting the hop! 


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  1. goldenrescue says:

    I think one reason we grieve so much for our pets is that they are woven into every fiber of our lives. When I get up in the morning, there she is, to tell me how much fun today will be. When I leave, I talk to her, tell her I’ll be back. When I get home, she’s there to greet me enthusiastically. She loves playing with me, she loves training, she loves snuggling. I touch her frequently, or she touches me, whether she’s lying next to my foot when I’m on the computer or on the couch next to me if I watch TV. There is no human being that I am as conscious of on a minute-to-minute basis. When a pet dies, they leave gaping holes throughout the fabric of your life.

  2. Dogs are the masters of unconditional love – who wouldn’t miss that. Yes, our personal relationships are much more complicated with years of conditional love…let’s be honest, even your best relationships with people are conditional. Never with my dogs. The only time Jack lets me down is when he blows his ‘leave it’ command and eats coyote poop for the 499th time. Look forward to a laugh tomorrow.

  3. I’ll admit I was way more depressed when my dog died than when my dad died. But my dad was old, and it was his time. He’d been sick for a long time. And he lived far away, so I only saw him maybe twice a year, sometimes only once. On the other hand, my dog was way too young. And she was a constant companion. I work from home, she loved to ride along in the car with me, so we were almost never apart. It’s so hard to lose that constant loving presence in your life.

  4. Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says:

    When my Kissy passed, I cried for four months — almost non-stop. She was my baby, the love of my life. When we first moved down here, she was my constant companion. Sam was working second shift back then so on top of getting used to a different house, a different town, a different state, and no place to walk safely, Kissy and I had to adjust to a screwed-up schedule. And we helped each other through it all. Our already-strong bond grew even stronger. I’d never had such a close, uncomplicated bond with anyone or anything in my life. Everyone else’s love was conditional. I grieved almost as much for the loss of the relationship as for Kissy herself. And it still tugs at my heart…I can feel the lump in my throat as I write this. When I had to put my Mom’s last dog down, I was upset. And at work, I had at least one of those ignorami try to tell me she was “just a dog”. She had been my dog for the last 10 years of her life, so she was far from “just a dog” to me. I gave one particular co-worker the cold shoulder for over a week. Our working relationship was never the same. Thankfully, the salesperson I was working with at the time knew well the pain I was feeling. So, yes, I definitely need the laugh and am looking forward to it.

  5. Oh goodness, yes! I also think…when our dogs die, it’s a more private, personal thing. All four of my grandparents have passed away, and at their funerals, I was very aware of keeping my grief to myself. I felt really bad that I didn’t cry at my maternal grandfather’s funeral, but I just didn’t. And my maternal grandmother was the most important person in my life as a child. I honestly believe that I wouldn’t have survived childhood without her in my life. She just understood me, without a need for words to be spoken. I could enjoy being in her presence without needing to talk, although we had plenty of talks, too. I cried during her funeral, but it wasn’t like I cried over my dogs’ deaths. I still grieved her, but I’d been grieving her for a year while she battled cancer, and I also know she wouldn’t want me to sit around crying for her, because she said so. As much as we love our dogs and feel like we know each other, we never do get to hear them say those words. I didn’t have to share my dogs or my relationships with them like I did with my grandparents. I think that makes it a little different, too.

  6. What a wonderful post! As was yesterdays!

    I think that non-dog people should read this post. Then maybe they would be a little more understanding. A dog-human connection is a powerful thing. It can never be replaced. You can love a new dog, but you can never replace a dog. They are too unique, full of love and personality.

    Thanks again for sharing! You hit the nail on the head about the dog-human bond :)

  7. I can’t fathom people who aren’t into animals. I know a couple and like them anyway but don’t understand them. No doubt they don’t understand my love for my dogs either. I haven’t lost many people I love yet. For me distance apart makes a big difference. I have a small family and they are all in Australia. My dogs live with me and when I lose Frankie and Beryl I will feel that more than when I lose a family member. Is that bad of me? It doesn’t mean I don’t love my family. It could mean I love my dogs more, which sounds awful! I don’t think I will sleep tonight trying to work this one out.

  8. I usually feel an instant kinship with dog lovers . I’ve met some very lovely people who love dogs but I’ve also met some awful people who love dogs. But with the awful people, I always think “there’s GOT to be something good about them, if they love dogs!” ..I definitely give dog lovers more benefit of the doubt. With respect to mourning and grief, in some ways, I almost grieve the loss of other people’s dogs as though they were my own.

  9. So true!! I think a big part of it is the amount of time we spend with our animals compared to family members we don’t live with or close friends. We live with our dogs every day, but most of us don’t see our parents or our siblings on a daily basis. So when we lose them, it doesn’t necessarily change our daily lives that much. But losing a pet changes our daily lives completely and leaves a huge empty space where they were.
    But I also agree that a big factor is the fact that humans often let us down. They are not always there when we need them, but our dogs are. If we want our dogs to do something with us….go for a ride, or a walk, they are always on board! They don’t have better things to do, and they don’t cancel out at the last minute either! :)

  10. I don’t know if there are categorical differences between grieving for animals and humans, just that each death is wrenching in its own way. With animals, the relationship is so intimate–there are things you share with your dog that no one else knows. True of humans too, but I absolutely agree that that human-animal bond is vital and intense :)

  11. You make a very good point Pamela. Not having lost a dog as an adult (the couple as a child are somewhat hazy…probably because I was shielded from my parents) I don’t know what it is going to be like when Chester or Gretel have to go. I am learning more and more about grieving a pet from fellow bloggers though so I feel like I will be better prepared.


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