“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” - Anatole France.

To love a dog is to truly know the meaning of unconditional love. If you were lucky enough to share your life with a dog(s), especially a ‘soulmate dog’ who has passed or is nearing the end of life, then you also have the flip-side of such a strong relationship: Grief!

Especially when you are landed a double blow, when you lose two precious pets in quick succession that stuns you and leaves you shell shocked. The death of an animal companion is unique to any other kind of loss and the grief is profound. It hits you like a punch in your gut…and the pain lingers on…with an endless feeling of melancholy.

A pet owner’s worst fear is losing a beloved companion. For those who have experienced this loss, there is usually a poignant story to share about a cherished pet’s passing. From one pet owner to another, one can understand the intense pain and emptiness that occurs after this loss. There is no correct way to grieve and work through this process, as everyone walks down a different journey with a pet.

. Tashi: 25.12.07 - 14.08.21 - O' sweet child of ours.

What will we do without him is what you ask yourself especially when you have tended to him during his phase of being blind and being carried around. It was heartbreaking to say the final goodbye to him. He was the sweetest boy... A lady's man... A true gentleman. So human-like with the kindest soul. Tashi had been my husband's shadow for more than 13 1/2 years…his constant support through his difficult days. My children’s best friend and companion to our other pets.

. Dixie: 31 July 2010 - 28. 08. 2021 – Stolen our hearts in no time.

An angelic form that came into our lives to give us pure unconditional love. After serving the Indian Army for nearly 9 years, she spent 2 years with us post her retirement. The best decision that we could have taken together as a family was to adopt her and give her a loving home after she had completed service to our nation. This huge, cuddly bear – I called her my polar bear was those one in a million kind of dogs that only the lucky get to experience. True to her form, she waited for all of us to be home and quietly slipped away in her favourite corner of the house without a fuss or complaint or sound.

I tend to ask myself very often: did we rescue these pure hearts or did they rescue us? It has taken me two weeks to sit and write about them as I was unable to summon up the courage to do it.

We have been lucky that we have had garden space where our pets could be put to rest but for the first time we experienced the services of an electric crematorium for our final goodbye to Tashi. What a respectable way to say goodbye to your pets on their final journey. Surprising that such crematoriums and even pet cemeteries are few and far between. We need more of these and we also need world-class veterinary care in India.

For many of us a pet symbolises a child, sibling, best friend, or long-term companion… Dogs and cats live an average of 13 years—enough time to truly enter and live in your heart. They become a part of your family and daily life. And when the time comes to part…the death of a pet can be a truly traumatic experience and create a large void in our hearts and lives—comparable to losing a close family member or friend.

As humans, we project onto our beloved pets our thoughts, emotions, and ideas: We see ourselves in our animals. The common belief that ‘owners come to look like their pets’ may not be a literal truism but rather a figure of speech indicating that our pets are our self-objects.

To understand the kinship of dogs and humans, we might look at the qualities that humans think their friends should have: no judgment, genuineness, trustworthiness, acceptance, respect, forgiveness, support, dependability, thoughtfulness, being a good listener, sharing humor, love. How does this stack up with the humans we know? Need I say more?

One of the most difficult things we can go through is the loss of someone we love. But what if that someone is a beloved family pet? The grief is still difficult, but it can also be different and confusing — and, unfortunately, taken less seriously by those around us. The intense grief after losing a pet may catch some of us by surprise. However, there are rational reasons why the pain hits so hard.

When a family pet dies, it can be impactful in many ways as suddenly, your constant companion, who has provided you with unconditional love and support, is no longer around. Pets are not just furry receptacles for our love, either. For many pet owners, the relationship is two-fold and emotionally beneficial in terms of both giving and receiving.

Our pets show us true unconditional love and give us pure joy and a pet can show us more love than the people in our lives. Often, grieving a family pet isn’t any different than grieving a family member, but sometimes it can hurt even more. Grief is messy and complicated with a myriad of emotions and does not happen in a linear way.

I have realised that the grief associated with the death of a pet is rarely spoken about. Many people want to tell stories and share memories of their pet when they die. They reach out for comfort. While animals are accepted as being a part of the family, there is still an overwhelming perception their loss is not a truly valid grief. When a person you love dies, it's natural to feel sorrow, express grief, and expect friends and family to provide understanding and comfort. Unfortunately, you don't always get that understanding when a pet dies. Some people still don't understand how central animals can be in people's lives, and a few may not get why you're grieving over ‘just a pet’.

For those of us who grew up with an animal, it may feel like they've been around forever. So they leave behind a massive hole when they're no longer here. A pet's death can feel like such a loss because the relationship we have with them is so pure. In other words, a pet's love is unconditional, and it doesn't come with many of the games and complications human relationships do. Pets also see us through some of the toughest days in our lives.

“Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge:

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....”
-Author unknown