What to do in case of pet grief – Part 1

Tilly Tot, Oreo and Ling Ling:  "Yes, we're quite comfortable, thank you for asking."

Tilly Tot, Oreo and Ling Ling

As many of you know, my husband and I have lost two of our three beloved shih tzu dogs in the past four months — the youngest, Oreo, at age six on October 24, 2014 — and the oldest, Tilly Tot, at (about) age twelve on February 14, 2015. The first loss was agonizing; the second, paralyzing.

Oreo:  "My toy!"  A squeaky fave.  Photo credit:  Sandra Bell Kirchman

Oreo: “My toy!” A squeaky fave. Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman

Oreo’s death, totally unexpected, left me in a rage of tears and anger. The pain wrenched at me so badly, I wondered how much more I could stand.  I cried even when I wasn’t aware of it, often waking up from a fitful sleep with tears on my cheeks. You see. Oreo was my loving buddy. While the other two played, or went outside in our big back yard, Oreo stayed by me, sleeping at my feet while I typed away on my computer. The two of us were together pretty much 365/24/7. His absence felt like one of my arms or legs was missing. How could I get along without it/him?

The Adorable Duo - Tilly Tot (rear left) and Ling Ling (front right).  (Photo credit:  (c) Sandra Bell Kirchman)

The Adorable Duo – Tilly Tot (rear left) and Ling Ling (front right). (Photo credit: (c) Sandra Bell Kirchman)

But I hadn’t taken into consideration our two remaining fur babies. Of course they missed Oreo, and they sensed that my mourning had something to do with him. In any event they redoubled their efforts to amuse, entertain, tease and titillate me. It seemed to be working a little.  By the beginning of February, I was able to sleep the night through and awaken with dry eyes and cheeks. I even started dabbling with my blog a bit, nothing too original, but at least I was thinking of returning and had my followers’ best interests blogwise at heart.

Tilly Tot comes to her forever home.

Little sweetheart,Tilly Tot

Then, on Valentine’s Day, our little sweetheart Tilly Tot passed on in the night from a blood clot after dental surgery. At first, grief encased me in a prison of numbness: I couldn’t cry, or laugh, or talk.  I moved around in a daze. After a few days, my outer appearance seemed normal — I talked, did my chores, poured love onto our one remaining fur child, Ling Ling.

However, inside was another story — my heart seemed crushed and my will to live retreated. Sleep became problematic, and I started looking really bad, to the point where the Big Guy (my husband) insisted I go to the doctor. The BG afterward told me I looked so bad, he would not have been surprised to come home from work to find me gone from the earthly plane.

A Ling Ling-Oreo-Tilly Tot story

Ling Ling – And then there was one…

On no account did this mean that I wanted to do myself in. On the contrary, I had made arrangements to start sessions with a grief counselor before Tilly passed, because of the slowness of regaining control of my life after the loss of Oreo. I fully intended to continue with this counselor…I wanted to live again, and I couldn’t as long as I wandered around the twilight zone I found myself in.

Next week, in Part 2, I’ll talk about the grief counseling, some of the other steps I have taken and the results. We are actually in the middle of my recovery: I am documenting it for my own reference, as well as for you in case, God forbid, you should find yourself in a similar situation.


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  1. Ling Ling will get through this Sandra, they seem to cope with these situations better than we do. It’s you I’m worried about, but it sounds like the grief counseling is working, and it’s good that you are documenting your progress. You never know, it might help someone else one day in the same situation.
    You need Ling Ling more than ever now, give her lots of cuddles and talk to her about it – it will help you. I did that when I lost my last dog. Poppy was my comfort and my salvation, bless her, and has been my little shadow ever since. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry I missed this, Barb. Thanks a bunch for your words of comfort. I didn’t know that dogs cope better than we humans. I don’t think I’ve ever parented more than one dog at a time.

      You’re also right about Ling Ling. She has been petted so much lately, I’m surprised she doesn’t have bald spots here and there. Comforting us is keeping her busy too, since there are two of us and only one of her. She is very organized though and sticks with me during the day and with the Big Guy (BG) at night.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it’s so good you are writing it down and sharing it – you are helping others by helping yourself. After Sam and Blondie died in the same year I did a lot of writing too and walking through a bunch of shoes! I will look forward to your pt 2. Hugs through the wires! You are definitely not alone in this!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on As I see it and commented:

    Our friend at Puppy Dog Tales has been going through the grieving process of losing not one but 3 of her beloved dogs in the past 4 months. She is sharing her experience and how she’s coping and I think it’s so important she does! I don’t think I’ve ever grieved a human being as much as I grieved losing my Sam.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: What to do in case of pet grief – Part 2 | Puppy Dog Tales

  5. Pingback: How Dogs Smell | Puppy Dog Tales

Oreo, Tilly & Ling Ling will wag their tales...er tails if you reply :)

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