Pet Loss and Grieving

Dale in her prime
Dale in her prime

In my opinion, the only downside to having a dog is the brevity of their life span.  Recently, I said good bye to my canine friend of 15 years, Dale. Dale had a good long life for a large dog, but it was still too short to me.

I will be forever grateful for all the things she taught me. Dale was the last dog I trained using punishment and the first dog I trained with a clicker. She was incredibly athletic. Through her, I became involved in the sport of canine agility. I can honestly say if it wasn’t for Dale, I would not be a dog trainer. Having her enriched my life in so many ways.

Several years ago I came across an assessment you can review to quantify quality of life. I found this very helpful while watching Dale slowly decline. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best, you want to examine your pet based on the following items:

Hurt/Pain

Hunger

Hydration

Hygiene

Happiness

Mobility

“More good days than bad”

Using these categories, I was able to see Dale’s quality of life had diminished. She really didn’t have good days anymore. She had good minutes or hours. So, sadly, I realized it was time to let her go.

Dale takes a dip on her last day
Dale takes a dip on her last day

On Dale’s last day, I took all three dogs through a McDonald’s Drive Thru and picked up some burgers. Then we went to our friend Kim’s house, a place that has always been fun for Dale. She had a chance to wander around a bit and even took a dip in the baby pool. I was fortunate to be able to arrange for euthanasia service at that peaceful place.

Part of the grieving process is to talk about your pet. Writing this column is part of my grieving process. It isn’t wrong or silly to feel sadness about the death of a pet. Creating a legacy or memorial is a natural part of the process.

My legacy to Dale and her memory is to continue to promote positive dog training. Every dog I help, every life I improve, is because Dale helped me understand how to help dogs through love and understanding.

About Cecelia Sumner

Cecelia Sumner, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KSA

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