How to Cope With Guilt After Your Pet Dies


If you accidentally hurt your dog or cat – or you had to put your pet down – these tips on how to cope with guilt after your pet dies will help you cope. These tips are inspired by a reader who lost his dog.

how to heal after losing your petAre you struggling to cope with the death of your pet? Read How to Heal Your Heart After Losing a Pet: 75 Ways to Cope With Grief and Guilt When Your Dog or Cat Dies. It’s an ebook I wrote to help people grieve and heal.

I’ve grieved the loss of two dogs and four cats. I didn’t know how to deal with the pain, so I read a dozen books on dealing with pet loss. The books I read weren’t as helpful as I hoped, so I interviewed several grief experts, veterinarians, and pet owners about losing a pet. Then I gathered the most valuable tips for coping with grief and guilt after a pets’ death, and created How to Heal Your Heart After Losing Your Pet.





These tips are inspired by a reader who shared his guilty feelings about not learning how to exercise his dog in hot weather. His dog died of heat exertion. Saying good-bye to your beloved dog or cat is heartbreaking – and it’s even worse if you feel guilty about your pet’s death. I hope these tips help you grieve and heal.

“If there is a heaven, it’s certain our animals are to be there,” says Pam Brown. “Their lives become so interwoven with our own, it would take more than an archangel to detangle them.”

4 Ways to Deal With the Guilt of a Pet’s Death

Some people accidentally cause their dog or cat’s death by accidentally leaving them in harm’s way. The most important thing to remember is that you did NOT purposely cause your pet’s death. Dealing with guilt may be a bit lighter if you know you would’ve acted differently if you had the chance. If your actions led to your pet’s death, you have to keep reminding yourself that you did not deliberately harm your dog or cat. It was an accident, and you would have done things differently if you had know what would happen.

Identify “imagined” guilt about the loss of your dog or cat

Not recognizing that your Yorkie, cockapoo, or Siamese cat was ill doesn’t mean that you weren’t paying attention or taking good care of him or her! This is imagined guilt. Animals can’t always communicate their physical health; pet owners can’t see inside their bodies and brains.

How to Cope With Guilt After Your Pet Dies

How to Cope With Guilt After Your Pet Dies

Another type of “imagined” guilt is if you’ve accidentally caused your pet’s death by letting him out, keeping him in, or losing track of his whereabouts. If you did not deliberately set out to harm your pet, then you have nothing to feel guilty about. I know this is easier said than done – and it takes effort to forgive yourself.

If you’re dealing with imagined guilt because of your pet’s death, remember that sometimes illness or disease overcomes our dogs, cats, and other beloved pets…and there’s nothing we can do. This loss of control is a very painful — but real — part of life.

I recently wrote How to Forgive Yourself for Not Protecting Your Dog, to help readers with guilt about pet loss. Please take a moment to read it — it’s the comments on this article that inspired me to write it.



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Remember that it’s normal to feel guilty when your pet dies

Whether your guilt is real or imagined, know that it is a normal grief reaction. Even the most “innocent” pet owners feel guilt over a pet’s death. For instance, I now cringe when I recall how angry I was at my beloved cat, Zoey, for scratching the basement door (I didn’t realize the door to her litter box was shut tight, and she couldn’t get in). That was over 12 years ago, and I still feel guilty! Healing after you had to put your pet down often requires forgiving yourself.

grief guilt pet diesGoodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet is the number one bestselling book on pet loss and grief on Amazon. I love the book because it offers both heartwarming stories and practical guidance on grieving the loss of a pet. It’ll help you deal with guilt when you caused your pet’s death.

Identify “real” guilt about your pet’s death

Real guilt may spring from your feelings that you neglected your dog or cat’s annual vaccinations, daily food intake, exercise habits, and “quality time” with you. If you’re struggling with real guilt, remember that you had reasons for doing what you did. The stress of money, work, kids, marriage, and daily life may have taken precedence over how you treated your pet. Maybe you didn’t make the best choices.

Healing after your pet’s death involves accepting that you wish you would’ve done things differently — and talking this through with your family, friends, or loved ones.

Remember what you did right – because you did A LOT right

Your dog or cat loved you beyond all reason – so you must have done something right. How did you love and take care of your pet? Balance your real guilt with the real ways you loved your pet. You took good care of your dog or cat in many ways; don’t wave that away.

How to Cope With Guilt After Your Pet DiesWhen Your Pet Dies: A Guide to Mourning, Remembering and Healing by Alan D. Wolfelt is a guide for pet owners who are struggling with grief when their pet dies. This book will help you understand why your feelings are so overwhelming, and help you cope with the guilt you feel about your pet’s death. The topics discussed include practical suggestions for grieving, ideas for remembering and memorializing one’s pet, understanding the many emotions experienced after the death of a pet, understanding why grief for pets is unique, pet funerals and burial or cremation, celebrating and remembering the life of one’s pet, and coping with feelings about euthanasia (including guilt about putting an animal to sleep).

Dealing with guilt when you caused your pet’s death isn’t just about grieving; it’s about cherishing the best parts of your life with your dog or cat.

Do you feel like you caused your dog or cat’s death? I encourage you to share your experience below. Talking and writing about it is healthier than ignoring it, and can help you process your grief.

xo



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162 thoughts on “How to Cope With Guilt After Your Pet Dies

  • Tash

    My pet rabbit was found dead suddenly. That week had been awful and lots went wrong including her hutch getting wet due to not finding the tarp and her a bit wet as well, her feeding schedule was messed up, and a cold night, plus we had a skip bin and hot air balloon outside our place on Saturday so she could of died from shock, heart attack, found out after she died that she had been eating plastic. I am feeling very guilty, that it wasn’t intentional but I could of caused my pet to die. How do you get over these feelings of guilt and shame and I miss her so much it’s been 8 weeks and I kick myself over and over. I don’t know how she died but there are some likely reasons

  • Dan

    Good Friday turned into tragic Friday for me. After walking my three dogs that morning, I decided to get some work done on my things. I started with my jeeps power steering that was making noise. This car is parked in my yard and is not used much. I opened the door and started it up. Opened the hood and went to the garage for fluid. I filled it and it was still making noise so I let it run for a while. Meanwhile, I went to work on my motorcycle. This was about 10:30 am.

    I started cleaning my motorcycle front tire as it had a lot of grease on it and I wanted to find the cause. After about 10 minutes I went back to the jeep, got in, turned the wheel and it still made noise so I shut it off, closed the door and hood and went back to the bike.

    Well the bike needed brake fluid so I had to go to auto parts. I drove my other vehicle. On the way home I had a stage feeling about my irish setter be in in the car with me or following me. I laughed it off. I shouldn’t have….

    I got home and went back to work on the bike. Probably about noon by then. Took bike to car wash to clean wheel some more then went for a little ride. Finished working on bike at home about 3:30 then decided to tackle an electric panel replacement in my small sailboat that I had been needing to do.

    My sailboat is parked otside the fence about 15-20′ from the jeep I had worked on earlier. I got in and out of the boat a few times to feet parts and tools from the garage. Outside temperature. ..about 83 degrees. A little warm inside the boat, but tolerable.

    Finished up about 4:30 and got out of boat, walked aound to the street side of it and heard a high pitched woof woof…..woof woof. I liked in the direction of my jeep but it has tinted windows. I thought noise was coming from behind the jeep in the far corner of the yard and thought it sounded like my jack Russel was in distress. Then I saw my jack Russell on the patio and he was ok. I hard the woof woof again and was confused. Then I heard other dogs barking so I guess I passed it off.

    I
    This is where it gets fuzzy. I came into my yard through my gate and I think I head the high pitched woof woof again. I think I looked towards the jeep but didn’t see anything. The jeep has tinted windows which probably explains that. I went and put up tools and etc and went upstairs for a drink. I laid down on the couch for a while.

    It became time to feed the dogs at 5:30 and I called them….only 2 of the three shows up. I went to look for the Irish seter. I thought he must’ve gotten out of the yard as I realized I had not Seen him for a while. I remembered my thoughts about him following me and I thought maybe he had gotten out of the yard earlier and tried to follow me during one of my trips and had gotten lost. I got on my motorcycle and went looking for him.

    I get back home and my other two dogs were at the gate. I asked ” where’s Mick”? Immediately, my jack Russell began walking towards the jeep. I thought OH No!! I ran to the jeep hoping he wasn’t in there, opened the door and looked in the back. My heart sank when I saw his tail. I ran around and opened the back and I went to pieces….he was gone…..I cried “I’m so sorry….I didn’t know you were in here!!!!!!” I was and am totally devistated.

    I don’t know why I didn’t realize he was missing All day. He always meets me at t he gate when I come home. He hadn’t all day. He did like to go in the garage where it was cool. I guess I asumed he was around somewhere. I had seen the other two dogs.

    I didn’t remember the barking I had heard until later, now I realize it was him trying to get my attention. Why didn’t I walk over and see what the noise was???? I know I was working on things that had my attention. I didn’t really think of the dogs much all day. I just don’t know why I disconnected. I should have caught on. It could have been avoided. I have had to rescue my dogs numerous times from bad situations.

    I think he got into the jeep and laid down. Probably went to sleep all day. Probably why I didn’t see him. He did like to get into cars. I don’t think I saw him get in, but why would I have that feeling that he was in the car with me or following me? Did I subconsciously know where he was and had forgot? I honestly don’t know or remember.

    I have played this over in my head a million times and have cried my eyes out. It won’t bring him back. I did not maliciously put him in harms way and I know that. But I should have been more observant and followed my instincts. It was senseless and I lost a great dog and friend by not paying attention. Thats just not like me at all and i dont know why it happened. He was a very loyal family member whose left a huge hole in our family. A very Tragic accident. He will be missed immensely!

    So….to anyone reading this….the outside temperature never got over 84 as far as I know. I would have bet $100 that wouldn’t be hot enough to kill a dog and I would have lost the bet. Know where your pets are and if you leave them in your car at the store or whatever, open the windows enough for some air. Don’t leave them very long. Don’t put yourself in my position. It isn’t nice…..

  • Sylvia Stevenson

    My beautiful Dog Brooklyn a Maltese Shtz Tzu would have been 5 years old this March 11,2017. I usually take her out early in the morning before work. About 6:45 am. Well this particular Monday morning on January 30, 2017. My fiancée said he would take her out before he go to work and to get something out the back of the trunk for me to take to work. We usually have our car parked in the parking lot to where we live, but the week before we had a car accident, where our car was hit while parked, so we had a rental and had to park in the street. So he goes to get the item out the trunk of the car and someone he said came over to him asking for money and it startle him as well as Brooklyn. Her collar was a little too loose and she was able to get out of it and back up in the street on the side of where the car was parked. A car coming in their direction hit her but it didn’t run over her. it seems like the in packed of it or something sharp hanging down ripe her open from the waist down, he said she looked at him and die instantly. He then brought her body upstairs to our apartment where I was in total shock and screaming and hollering at him crying what did you do. I thought a pit bill or another dog attack her. He then was able to tell me she was hit. I felt like it was my fault because I had just told him that Friday that he was too careless with her and that I also should have put on her harness instead of the collar. Why didn’t he just bring her back upstairs before crossing over to the street that is always so busy, or why didn’t he carry her back across the street. Or why didn’t I just wait and take her out. he said I told him to take her out, but I do not recall that. I heard him said to Brooklyn Come on lets go, I started to yell at him I will take her out, but they was already heading out the door. he seems to be handling it better than me. Brooklyn was my baby, my shadow. I know he has felt remorseful, and maybe he’s handling it differently than me.

    • Sylvia Stevenson

      I felt like I let Brooklyn down. I’m suppose to care for her. I saw the signs of his carelessness and should not have let him taken her. I cry all the time for her. She was like a child and it’s tearing me apart. he seems to be taking it better then I am. We have started back reading our bible and praying more, and focusing on God, and Jesus. Everyone deals with grieving in their own way, but it seems like he got over it way to quick. I pray that we both heal from this.

    • Mattie7632

      It’s been 6 months tomorrow and I still can barely talk or even type about my experience. Let’s just say I too, lost track of our pet and she got locked somewhere to suffer a horrible death. I thought I might end up in a psyche ward after I first found her. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced anything so awful in my entire life. I have ptsd and still can’t go near said area. But even still, as the old saying goes, time helps. Just not near quick enough. Hugs to you and your family. I truly do know exactly what you are going through.

  • Selina

    I had a 4 year old Persian/Hymalian male cat. His name was Elvis. He had one sister and 2 brothers. (Not by the same liter) in all my husband and I had 4 cats. We had them each were 6 weeks old. Our first cat was Elvis. My daughter bought him for me before he was even born. I found a lady who breed Persian/Himalayian cats online. So I wanted a male kitten and he was smoked black in color …he was gorgeous just a beautiful cat. I named him Elvis. He was a lap cat . Elvis had the best personality and was good around any animal. He was socialable and sweet and calm. My husband and I loved him so much. We were moving out of a big home that had so much room for 4 cats into my moms small home. Well long story short we didn’t want to bring our 4 cats into my moms small home barely any room. So we entrusted my cousin to foster 2 of our cats for only 3 months. My husband and I were relocating to a different state but needed to save money so we moved in with my mother to save money. My cousin said with open arms we would love to help and take in 2 of your fur balls temporarily till you guys move. My husband and I were thankful and very appreciative. Some time later within 1 and half months she texted me and said ‘ I think Elvis is not feeling well’. But to have you understand my story my cousin is unfortunately a negative type person and plays victim all the time. But deep down she has a good heart. Well when she told me my Elvis was sick I asked do I need to come pick him up ? She said no he is not that bad. She told me he was still eating and drinking water. Mind you she already had 2 pets of her own. A cat and a dog. Both of her pets were inside/outside pets. My 2 cats were inside only pets. Keep this in mind. So after she told me my male cat Elvis seemed to be not to badly sick I really didn’t think it was as bad as it originally was:(. After one week went by she called me and said Selina I think Elvis needs to go to the vet. He isn’t getting any better. I told her no. I would come get him and take him to the his vet. Well I didn’t . Things came up and basically I put it off another few days. I am so filled with guilt. By the time my husband picked him up from my cousin’s home she lived 1 hr away from my moms where we were staying temporarily. Elvis was limp weak couldn’t walk wasnt eating or drinking water. My husband took him to the emergency vet bc it was late at night. I was at home waiting to hear from my husband what the vet doc said. The vet doc told my husband Elvis had flea infestation anemia….and He needed blood transfusion. 2 blood transfusions. Very costly. We couldn’t afford the blood transfusions. He was too far gone at that point. He couldn’t feel his body and only had 6% blood in his body. Average cat should have 30-35% blood in their bodies. The fleas sucked all of his blood in his body that explains why he was so sick. My cats were healthy and never had fleas before we took both to live with my cousin for few months. She said my home is FLEA FREE …I took her word for it. My cousin said to me after I told her what happened to Elvis …she said’ I just don’t understand how he got fleas in my house’????? My other cat Jackson was infested with flea’s as well. I was livid at her response! She obviously had fleas in her home bc she told me she had her home flea bombed 3 times…but took her dog outside everyday and her cat was going outside then back in the house….so her pets could had fleas and brought them inside her home and gave to my cats. The problem I am having is that my cousin doesn’t think she is to blame for my cats death???? I know it wasnt on purpose. …bc she is a animal lover but she’s in denial about not taking any responsibility. That hurts. My husband and I are feeling alot of guilt ourselves for allowing him to stay at my cousin’s house without checking on them or once a month flea treatment. And we are feeling the guilt bc my cousin told me about Elvis not feeling well and not dropping everything to go get him:( maybe if I went to check on him he would still be here? Maybe if I didn’t leave him there he wouldn’t have caught bad infestation of fleas that caused his anemia:(??????? . Then having a hard time forgiving my cousin for not paying attention to our cats enough to tell me they both had fleas. Its just hard all the way around:( ….how can we get through this? I cried everyday. My heart hurts. Please tell me how to cope? Anyone please:((((

  • Katherine

    I can’t stop crying over my kitten’s loss 3 days ago. I feel responsible and I am for not having him around with his 3 siblings I’m mothering since a week old. I thought he had constipation like he did 2 weeks ago so I was waiting for him poo by next day…instead next day he was stil meaowing thoogh hee pooed. Got him to the worse Vet ever, where his stupid assistance said that he looked fine! I said to her HE IS NOT FINE! There is a lump in his belly and he is too quiet. She said her cats are quiet like this and nothing to worry about. She’d inject him an Amoxicilin and monitor him by the time the head Vet comes. By 5 pm I called to check how is he doing and if the head Vet came in as promised. She said, he’d come tomorrow for check ups!!! I rushed there, picked him up and got him to another Vet…nice guy but too young…My kitten died!!!! Next day I visited a very experienced Vet and told me that they did all wrong and most probably he had tight urine track sinse birth and could’ve been fixed and hw xouldn’t get it why the Vet took out the catheter if he used one. Should’ve stayed at least 24 hrs…I hate myself for not getting him to a more experience Vet cause on Sunday couldnk( think or someone tell me of one on call. I hate me. He could’ve been here with us playing by the fireplace. I’ll never forgive my bad choice. He is dead, can’t do anything about it. Can’t fix my mistake. I’ll cry for many days to come RIP Stanford my big kitty…Love ya forever…

  • Sam

    So glad I found your website and thanks to everyone for sharing their stories…

    We lost our beautiful 5 week old kitten last night, through my own negligence. I was packing the dishwasher and didnt see her climb underneath it, and I closed the door on her head…

    Hubby and I rushed her to the emergency room. Sadly, they couldnt save her.
    I am consumed by guilt over my actions and devastated by her loss. I know it was an accident, but I still cannot forgive myself for being so stupid as to not check where she was first. Such a tiny helpless little thing, dependent on me for her safety and well being and I reward her by killing her :-(…

    As it happened last night, everything is still so fresh in my mind. I know it will take a while, but I feel so angry about it and helpless. My husband has been so supportive and understands how much I love animals and what this is doing to me emotionally.

    Again, thank you all for your stories.. it helps to know I am not alone in feeling the way I do and that there are people out there who understand what it is I am going through….

    Sam

  • Judy

    I lost my 18 year old cat a week ago today. I can’t help feeling guilt on so many levels. First she was showing signs of not being well, eating less, sleeping more. I thought she was just slowing down with age. She just went for her biannual check up 3 months ago, and she got a clear bill of health, and to be honest, I lost my job and didn’t want to spend money on another vet bill. Then my dog brought fleas into the house. So I gave all my pets flea medicine. What I didn’t know was that my girl was showing signs of kidney damage and by giving her the flea medicine, she had complete renal failure. I brought her to the vet too late her kidneys were too damaged, and she had a seizure while the vet was trying to Flush them out, so I had to make the decision to put her down. I messed up on so many levels and I feel like I let her down so much. She was counting on me to take care of her, and I didn’t. I don’t know how I can ever forgive myself. My heart is broken, and I don’t think it will ever heal.

    • Tracie

      I appreciate you sharing this story Judy. It is exactly what happened to my 9 year old male cat last May. The dog brought fleas in amd I was so focused on that problem I didn’t realize he eventually had renal failure. I also suspect his dryfood helped with that. I still feel so guilty from not seeing the signs, because there were many. I am carrying guilt and I had this expectation he would live to see 15 at least. He didn’t even get to double digits.

      Thank you for sharing and it helps to see someone else can make the same mistake.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Dear Angela,

    I’m so sorry you lost your dog Twinki. Even her name is bright and sparkly, like her life was!

    She loves you and knows you’d never do anything to hurt her. She is resting in peace and joy, and being cared for by angels and God. She is happy! And she wishes you weren’t burdened by the grief and guilt you feel about her death.

    May you find forgiveness and acceptance, peace and healing. May you accept your dog’s forgiveness and know that the last thing she’d ever want is for you to feel bad about her life and death. She is happily living in her moment, the way she always did! And she wishes the same for you.

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  • Angela

    Just last night my beautiful chihuahua Twinki was hit by a car and died instantly. She was my baby and always with me. It was our last, and 4th, night at our RV site in Lake Tahoe. There were several of us that had just returned from a dinner cruise. When we got back I knew she needed to get out of the RV and pee. When I brought her out I shouldn’t have assumed that the others would keep an eye on her while I did a quick change in the RV into my sweatpants. Within a few minutes I was back out and a stranger pulled up to our site asking if we owned a chihuahua because one was just hit by a car and was dead. I couldn’t believe it!!! My Twinki strayed that far so quickly? She’s about 9 years old and overweight. There were nine of us at the campsite with four other dogs. At the campsite we let them have some freedom to sniff around and be off their leash while we all looked out for them. She is not one to take off like that. I loved her so much and she loved me. I feel so guilty. Why didn’t I just change first then bring her out so I could watch her even though the others were outside? Why didn’t I ask one person specifically to keep an eye on her while I went in to change real quick? She had such a good day too. My daughter and I played with her while she acted silly jerking her little body on my bed. My father in law brought her on a long walk by the beach. Each night she slept with me and that day we took a nap together before I got up to go on the dinner cruise our last night. I’m such an animal lover. I’m the person that will pull over on the road to rescue a dog or cat. We almost ran over a cat in Hawaii. I ended up bringing him back home to California. Just recently near a busy intersection by the hospital where I work I rescued a small chihuahua and eventually found her owners. How could I let this happen to my own baby girl? I’m totally responsible. I hope in time I can get through the pain and sorrow and tremendous guilt I feel. Right now I feel like I can’t ever return to that beautiful place in Lake Tahoe. A fun trip to celebrate my husbands birthday with our family and friends ended in such a tragedy on our last night! I’m so sorry my Twinki!

  • Laurie

    Dear Sarah,

    Thank you for being here, and for sharing your tragic losses with us. It’s heartbreaking to lose one pet…but losing two cats on the same day for different reasons is a huge blow. I have two dogs and a cat, and I often wonder what would happen if they got too exuberant if I left them alone. They’re animals, after all, and they do get carried away by their animal instincts.

    I just want to express my condolences, and say my thoughts and prayers are with you. Your grief will lift, and you will remember your beloved cats with peace and joy. I believe your cats know how very much you loved them, how dear they were to you, and I know they don’t want you to be in pain. They are happy now, at total peace, and they are together. Their arms are around each other’s little cat shoulders, just like the buddies they are, and they are watching you with love. They want you to be happy, and not to feel so much guilt or pain. They hope you work through your sadness, for they want you to remember them with love and peace.

    Good-bye Wink and Sivy. You are dearly missed, dearly loved, and will never be forgotten. xo

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  • robin

    I am so sorry to hear your eloquently written sad story. I am glad you found this site because it really helped me heal reading people’s stories of guilt and loss when accidents happen but we blame ourselves. I just want you to know that my heart goes out to you experiencing this double whammy of shock and trauma. I can tell that you are grieving hard and coming to terms with this accident no matter that it is so hard. Just wanted you to know i read and cried this morning and am here with you waiting for the future meeting with our pets!!! Sometimes it helps just knowing we are not alone when trauma hits and we are experiencing post trauma stress and anxiety… Love is real even though it seems that we have lost someone in the physical form!

  • Sarah

    Thank you so much for this post. Last month my mom and I made the decision to put my beautiful 12 year old one-eyed cat, Wink, to sleep. She stopped eating and the vet found a large tumor in her stomach. I adopted Wink when I was a sophomore in college. The last three years of her life she lived with my mom. I moved home for a brief time to help my mom take care of my grandma before she passed. When she did, I didn’t want to leave my mom all alone, so Wink stayed behind to be her companion. Soon after I adopted an orange tabby named Sivy, and last year a beagle puppy named Bogie.

    Putting Wink to sleep was a hard thing. Mom brought her down, along with her two shepherd mix dogs. I kept the dogs for a month last fall while my mom had surgery, so I didn’t have any concerns about leaving them with Bogie and Sivy while we took Wink to the vet. However, one of the dogs chewed up part of my couch the last time I had them, so we put them in my basement until we got back. Before we left, I coaxed Sivy out from under my bed (she was scared of the dogs). I picked her up and carried her in the kitchen, telling her to eat and get a drink, that the dogs weren’t going to hurt her, and we’d be back soon.

    Wink went peacefully. I’d been preparing myself for this, but even so, I bawled like a baby. I held her and told her she was my good girl as she went. I told myself she’d had a good long life, and felt lucky I had her all those years.

    My mom and I got back to my house and when I unlocked and opened the door, I saw that all three dogs were standing there. I said “I must not have latched the basement door…”, and as soon as it got out, I looked past them and saw Sivy lying on the floor. Her little body had matted fur with spots of blood all over, her legs were straight and stiff, and her eyes were wide open. I lost it. I ran to her, screaming and crying hysterically. She was gone. The rest is a blur. I know I ran outside on the porch, in hysterics. My mom was crying too and yelling at the dog she knew did it (the younger female dog). The poor mail carrier had just come to my house and had to calm me down. It took a couple of Xanax just for me to stop shaking and crying until I was hyperventilating. She offered to go in and cover Sivy up. I said no, I wanted to see her. I didn’t, but I did. I laid on the floor by her for a bit, crying and telling her how sorry I was. Poor little Bogie came up and was licking on her and whimpering. Sivy was his best friend, and he loved her very much. My mom helped me wrap her in a towel and I put her in a plastic tub. My mom felt so bad she didn’t stay long after. I called my ex who adopted her with me, and who was still my friend, and he came up to help me take her to the shelter for cremation. I was a mess. He was too, as he loved her as well. I felt so terribly guilty. I said if I’d left her under the bed, if I’d made sure the basement door was closed, if I’d been there this wouldn’t have happened. She should have been attacked and killed in her own home. I feel like I lied to her when I said they wouldn’t hurt her, I felt like I failed to keep her safe, I felt so horrible and just kept crying and telling her I was so sorry. I tortured myself wondering if she was in pain for long before she died, or if it was quick. Did she cry? Did she wonder why I wasn’t there? Did Bogie try to stop it? I felt terrible that he had to watch it and couldn’t do anything.

    So, that day I dealt with the pain of putting Wink to sleep, and the horrible shock of finding Sivy. I miss them both, but Sivy is the one I can’t stop beating myself up over. I can’t get the image of seeing her on the floor, eyes wide open. This lovely creature who was so smart and sassy and full of character and life, who made my world better just by being here. I couldn’t eat. I stayed in bed and cried for days. My boss is one of those who couldn’t understand taking time off for “just a pet”. I’m 32, unmarried, and do not have kids. My pets ARE my kids. I felt like I’d lost a family member. I don’t even think I was this broken when my grandma died.

    The next few weeks I couldn’t stop just bursting into tears throughout the day. Bogie broke my heart. He’d walk around sniffing at her spots, whimpering, and looking at me with a sad confused face. He didn’t want to leave my side. He was always on my lap, or in bed with me, and he’d lick my tears. We both were grieving. We still are. And I still feel guilty.

    I can look at it logically and recognize that it was an accident–just a horrible freak accident that nobody saw coming. But I still feel like I should’ve have been here to protect her. I feel like I let her down. It makes my stomach churn thinking of her last moments. It gives me anxiety attacks. I still cry daily.

    I put Sivy and Wink’s ashes in two urns and put up a memorial “Pawprints on my Heart” frame between them. I miss them both so terribly much.

  • Laurie Post author

    Dear Jasmine,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing how you are coping with guilt and grief after your cat’s death. I pray that other readers learn from your experience, because you have learned something so important about life. Business success pales in comparison to loving our pets, and to really being there for them.

    My prayer for you is that you regain your emotional and physical strength, and that you forgive yourselves for the guilt you feel. Forgiveness, surrender, and acceptance of the way things unfolded is crucial to healing…and I pray that you are able to grieve and move forward with a lighter heart. May you know you’re not alone – may you find people and resources to comfort you, and give you strength to move forward. I also pray for your future job and career! May you find work that is fulfilling and meaningful, and may you balance your job and your personal life. Amen.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • robin

    i am so sorry and pray that you will continue to receive comfort and healing for your guilt and grief. I have had you in my thoughts and prayers since reading last night as I am dealing with a female cat that pees on my furniture. It is so hard to deal with in our busy lives. Please treat yourself gently and do not make any hasty decisions. I know you are a good fur mama!!! Please rest in this and the fact that impermanence is a reality…..God bless you! This site helped me tremendously when I lost my dog Rudy and felt guilty for not rushing him to the all night hospital.

  • jasmine

    My boyfriend and I just put one of our cats down because he was spraying all over the house and destroying furniture.

    I run my own business that has overwhelmed our lives. We are so burnt out and deal with immense financial pressures and problems at every turn.

    When this re-occuring problem came back this time we were so overwhelmed with everything and just wanted the problem to go away. We made the unfortunate decision to put him down and now we regret it and our other 3 cats are grieving as well. We are just sick about this and don’t know how to live with this or forgive ourselves. We are killers and we loved him so much.

    I am closing my business now, because this has led us to realizing there was no balance in our lives because of it and we were too overwhelmed by everything associated with it. This business was so not worth the life of our cat. It was the ultimate personal sacrifice that we are paying a huge price for.

  • Isabella

    Evreyone,
    Thank you for all your support. I still miss Olivia very much, but I pray for her and my family every night. I even asked her if she would mind another puppy…. She said yes I think because we are getting one for my birthday! 🙂 I just found out this morning! And I know when it is my time I will be with Olivia again. If anybody is having a problem like this, just think you will be together at the Rainbow bridge when it is time. Love Isabella

  • Isabella

    Laurie,
    Thanks for the advice. This website has really helped me.
    I believe that I’ll meet Olivia in heaven thanks to you. I feel like once a pet/member of the family has died, they are still here in spirit. You are a very good person. I still am not sure when we will get another dog, but we found a breeder who’s puppies will be available on my birthday. If I get a puppy, his name will be Oliver.
    A combination of Olivia and Casper. (Both of our angels) And I’m starting to think we don’t ever redirect are love, we just make more for the new member. So Olivia and Casper will not be jealous. 🙂

    May all your pets be blessed,
    Isabella

  • Isabella

    Robert,

    Thanks so much. I appreciate that a lot. God bless you. I am doing much better because I have this feeling Olivia’s spirit is still here too.
    Love, Isabella

  • Laurie

    Dear Isabella,

    I believe the cats and dogs that I’ve loved and lost are in Heaven, and I believe I will see them again. I can’t prove anything, but I believe that their spirits and energy still exist somewhere, and I will reconnect with them after I leave this world. I believe that with all my heart and soul. I believe my dogs and cats are happy in Heaven, where there is no pain or hurt or sadness or hunger. Heaven may be better than earth! Not that I’m rushing to get there 🙂 but I believe it is a wonderful way to end this life on earth.

    Don’t let fear of losing another furry friend stop you from giving another dog a home! Fear is what shuts people down and makes them unable to experience love and life.

    Anytime you love something, you have to be prepared to lose it. Loss is sad and painful, but it’s part of our human life. This goes for everything – from your phone to your parents to your friends to your pets!

    I don’t let fear of losing something stop me from loving my 2 dogs, cat, husband, or anything else. I cherish every second I have with them, and I appreciate them all the more because they may be gone one day.

    Are you ready to get another dog? Talk it over with your parents. Are they ready? Sometimes it’s good to grieve the death of your dog, and let yourself heal before getting another one too quickly. But every person is different — every person has to decide for herself if the time is right.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you! And it’s no problem to answer your questions. 🙂

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • Robert

    Isabella,

    I am sorry for what you have endured. My belief is that we will see our beloved pets in a future life…heaven or otherwise. If there were no dogs in Heaven…well, it couldn’t possibly be heavenly.

    No one can tell you when the time is to get a new dog. When that time comes, perhaps it would be best to rescue a dog that is already mature. Rescuing an animal in need can be a life changing event for your family…and a life-saving one for the dog.

    Best of luck to you. If you start to feel sad, make sure to keep talking to your friends and family. Feelings of utter sadness, especially after a “bad death,” are perfectly normal. You loved Olivia and she you. That will survive all eternity.

    Peace,

    Robert

  • Isabella

    Dear Laurie,
    Thanks very much. You do not even know me and you cared to respond. That is VERY kind and considerate. I’m doing ok now, and my friends/family have been supportive. I just hope Olivia and our other dog Casper are having fun together now. 🙂 I have a couple questions though. Like are they in heaven? Will I see them again? Is it ok to get another puppy to make me happy and to give her/him love? Or will I be too afraid because I do not want to lose another angel?And what I really need to know is if they are happy.
    Sorry for the questions and thank you so much.
    Love Isabella

  • Laurie Post author

    Dear Isabella,

    I am so sorry to hear about your puppy dying. That is the saddest thing ever, and there’s nothing I can say to make things better 🙁

    You didn’t do anything wrong, my friend. You didn’t know your puppy was going to get hit by a car and die. If you had known, you would have done something to save her. You didn’t do anything to cause your puppy’s death.

    I am very sad for you, and wish you didn’t have to experience this. And I wish I could say something to make you feel better. But, you just need to concentrate on forgiving yourself and try to let go of the guilt you feel because of Olivia’s death.

    It’s important to grieve your puppy’s death, and to forgive yourself for whatever you think you did wrong. Let yourself cry and be sad, and keep reminding yourself that sometimes terrible things happen in the world for no reason at all. It’s awful, but it was your puppy’s time to go. There’s nothing you can do to change that; the best is to just accept that she is gone, and forgive yourself for whatever you think you did wrong.

    I am very sorry, and I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • Isabella

    I’m only 13. And my 3 year old puppy Olivia died yesterday. She was hit by a truck because she was trying to protect us. And I didn’t do anything to stop her. I feel so bad. I had to see her lifeless body puking up blood. I don’t know what to do because I just wanted her to be happy. She was so caring, friendly protective, brave and unique. I can’t live without her.
    Please help me.
    Love Isabella

  • lisas

    Dear Laurie,

    Thank you for your kind words. I am doing much better already at accepting my mistakes. Right now, it’s the fact that I didn’t call the vet back when he still had some symptoms. You are right though, I didn’t think he’d ever die from what seemed to not be that serious. He still ate fine (well, for him – he never ate properly anyways which is more than likely part of the problem). He went to the bathroom fine. I was watching him while I paid a lot of money for my ferrets’ treatment. I will breathe in the regret and guilt and breath out forgiveness for myself and everyone here. The fact we have come here shows that our pets were loved and that we are good people. It’s good to have this place to try to heal. I’m in a pet loss & bereavement support chat too (aplb). I wish you and everyone peace of mind and send my love to you all.
    Lisas

  • Laurie

    Dear Lisas,

    Thank you for sharing your story here – my heart goes out to you. It’s so difficult to lose a pet, and thinking you caused your pet’s death makes things so much worse.

    But, you have to remind yourself that you did NOT deliberately do anything to cause your beautiful lizard’s death! If you had known he was going to die, you would have done things differently. You were doing the best you could to take care of him.

    You did the best you could. You took him to the veterinarian, you gave him the ointment and antibiotics, you listened to what the vet said…and your beautiful lizard died anyway. It’s so sad, but I hope you can free yourself from the guilt you feel.

    Grieve your beautiful lizard’s death, and forgive yourself. You didn’t do anything wrong — it’s easy to look back and say you should have done things differently! But when you were living it out, you were doing what you thought was right.

    I hope you can take a deep breath — breathe in the regret, pain and guilt about your lizard’s death — and exhale forgiveness and peace. When you breathe in, breathe in the regret, pain, and guilt everyone here feels about their pet’s deaths….and exhale forgiveness and peace to everyone. Send them blessings and forgiveness, and send yourself the same.

    Come back anytime, let me know how you are.

    In sympathy and peace,
    Laurie

  • lisas

    Hi Laurie:
    I tried to tweet my story but don’t think it worked. I had a beautiful pet lizard. I let the heat in his tank get too low this winter (mistake, big one, I didn’t realize it). He got a rep. infection. I got the heat in his tank up and took him to the vet. He took antibiotics and had ointment for his eye. The vet saw him about a week later and another week or so after. He gave him mouth ointment and said to continue using these. This was in March, maybe April. I did, but wondered why he was so slow to heal even though the vet made it seem like they are. He was eating, drinking, looked fine except the problem never seemed to go away for good. I wondered if I should call but didn’t – figured he would be O.K. He took a turn for the worse in late June. He looked dehydrated, had more crust than ever around his nose, so I made an appt. with vet but he couldn’t see him for a week. The night after he got fluids, he died. I have so many regrets over my errors, I can’t live with myself. Just trying to get past this. Vet later said antibiotic should have cured it and maybe he had a bone infection, but I’ll never know and feel terrible and traumatized. I really miss him.

  • Bryan

    Hi Rebecca and Laurie,

    I’m glad my story helped some of you and perhaps others to avoid the same accident with the perch. Shortly after I posted to this site I talked to my Mom about it since she has a better memory of it, being there at the time. What she said made me a feel a bit better since I was concerned about my cat’s suffering at that point. She said he was probably older than I had thought since he was developing arthritis and when they did find him fairly quick, she took him to the vet, and he gave him pain killers which did numb the pain as best they could I think that point. So, in a small way I’m doing better because of that knowing he went as painless as possible and didn’t just have to hide somewhere in pain not wanting to be found which is common for animals to do. This is why I always grow nervous when I have difficulty finding a pet since they can hide really well when they don’t want to be found.

    Thanks,

    Bryan

  • Rebecca

    Dear Bryan, I found this site in March when I lost my teacup Yorkie Lovie. I am sorry to hear of your loss I am still having a very difficult time myself but this site has given me some helpful tools. There have been some very dark moments truthfully I just have not been able to forgive myself. I wish you the best in moving forward and will certainly spread the word myself about weight limit for those shelves. I have a 22lb Siamese and was thinking about getting one of those shelves for the office definitely not. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Laurie Post author

    Dear Bryan,

    Thank you for sharing your story – I agree that the pain of losing a pet never truly goes away! I’ve loved and lost many cats over the years, and it seems that my pain is in direct relation to how guilty I feel about their deaths (the more guilty I feel, the more grief I’m in).

    It’s one of those things we have to live with, I think. The wounds heal, but never go away. And some days are more painful than others, for some reason.

    Your cat is waiting for you, and you will be reunited with him one day. His energy will never be completely gone; his body has just taken a different form. I really believe that; it gives me hope and peace.

    And, our beloved animals don’t hold on to blame or disappointment in us! They’re so awesome, they live in the moment, and I know in this moment they love us because the bad moment is over.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • Bryan

    It’s been since 1998 since I lot my cat of 12 years and I still cry about it which brought me to this site tonight.

    Years ago, we purchased a window perch for our cat which loosely attached to the window that had a cotton covering which allowed cats to lay on them so they could look out the window. They still exist today, and I get sad when I see one in a store or on a website. When visiting home from college, I noticed my cat wasn’t sitting in the perch and it had fallen down. Not thinking anything of it, I repositioned the perch on the window and he jumped up there and was happy again, which is all I wanted for him.

    Shortly after getting back to college, I received a call from my Mom that my dear cat had passed away. Since he was too heavy for the perch it had fallen down again, but when it fell, his body fell on the aluminum end that attaches to the window puncturing his body. I feel so terrible knowing I caused that by putting the perch back and can’t imagine the pain and confusion he was in, and I wasn’t there to see him or say goodbye.

    I believe my Mom wrote a letter to the company telling them to put a warning on the perch for a certain weight limit so it wouldn’t happen to other cats, and he was about 20 pounds at the time which isn’t the heaviest cat I’ve seen. He was such a good cat and since I was an only child, he was with me through 10 moves with my family so he was my only constant in life.

    I truly hope I see him again someday and I wish others luck in dealing with their grieving since this pain seems to never truly go away.

  • Mihaela

    Thank you very much for your kind words and encouragement. I’m still struggling and going in my mind over all the turning-points that might have made a difference, but I’ve started seeing a counsellor and I hope in time I will be able to remember the good times without the choking feeling I failed him.
    As chance would have it, they found three ten-day-old abandoned kittens at my vet’s practice and I took one of them, so at least his presence and having to take care of him brings me some comfort.

  • Laurie Post author

    Dear Mihaela,

    I echo KJ’s sympathy – I too am so sorry for your loss. And I think KJ was 100% right that sometimes our pets encounter things we can’t control, like illnesses or the veterinarian’s decisions. We feel we’re to blame for our pet’s death or sickness, but often things happen that are out of our control.

    You didn’t cause your cat’s death. He had a chronic illness that took his life, and you did the best you could to take care of him. You loved him with all your heart and you gave him a good life! He only spent a short time on our earth, like an angel just passing through to show you love and happiness. Now he is at peace, and he would want you to be at peace, too.

    Give yourself time to grieve. Eventually you will feel happy again, my friend. And maybe you’ll be able to open your heart to love another kitty cat who needs you.

    Please come back anytime and let us know how you’re doing.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • KJ

    Hi Mihaela,
    I went through a similar situation with one of my cats (though we never did find out what his illness was, the vet did over $1000 worth of tests and unnecessary dental surgery and he still died) It was over a year ago and I am still feeling extreme guilt. Yet as an outsider to your situation, I can see the MANY things you did for your cat. I know how hard it is to not know exactly what went wrong and to feel like you failed! But you truly did do the best you could for him. Sometimes there are factors (like decisions the vets make, or that kitty was just too sick) that simply cannot be controlled, no matter how much we wish they could be.
    I am so very sorry for your loss.

  • Mihaela

    I got my cat when he was about six month old and his unconditional love got me out of a dire depression. I felt closer to him than anyone, I felt he trusted me and he was always there for me. Last year, just before he turned four, he got very sick and I was afraid I might lose him, but in the end he got better. But then some of the symptoms returned and it turned out it was some form of chronic triaditis and during the past months he started eating less and less. The vet kept trying a number of treatments, including acupuncture, which seemed to help in the beginning, but was less effective from one session to the next. I should have seen it wasn’t helping and ask the doctor to try something else or try to vary his diet more, but I guess I was simply in denial and hoping for a miracle, rather than do something that might have actually helped. Eventually the vet decided to do some more tests and it turned out my cat now had a severe anaemia, so he recommended perfusions twice a day and some transfusions; they did two (using dog blood, because we couldn’t find a cat donor with his blood type) and he seemed to be feeling better, but then on the third they used the same blood. The next day he started peeing blood and they told me it might be a reaction to the transfusion, they gave him two perfusions, but in the evening he started feeling very weak, his temperature dropped and he died in agony during the night. How can I not blame myself? I should have realized his apathy was the sign of a life-threatening condition, I should have insisted that they use fresh blood on the third transfusion, I should have queried the vet for other possible causes and remedies for the blood in urine (I’m beginning to doubt it was a reaction to the transfusion, because other signs should have been present as well). I miss him very much and it breaks my heart that I failed him.
    I apologize for the long message, it’s been two weeks now and I’m still going over those last days in my mind, rehearsing what I should have said and done, even if I know painfully well it’s too late now.

  • Laurie Post author

    Dear Andrea,

    I am so very very sorry to hear about you and your boyfriend’s cat’s death. That is so sad, so tragic — what a terrible accident.

    I encourage you to talk to a grief counselor in person about what happened. It’s important to keep reminding yourself that this was a very tragic accident — it was not your fault, and you did not deliberately cause your cat’s death. It was a mistake, and if you had an inkling that he might be in the dryer, you would never ever have put the clothes in!

    Talking this through with a counselor will give you the tools and support to cope with this. You need to learn how to forgive yourself, how to move on, and how to reframe this accident so you don’t blame yourself. If you can work through the pain of this accident in a healthy way, you aren’t as likely to suffer heavy emotional consequences. A counselor can also help you work on your relationship with your boyfriend, so you can support and love each other through this terrible accident.

    What do you think? Will you get call a counselor?

    I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Let me know how you’re doing.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • andrea

    I’ve lived with my boyfriend for a year now. He had a cat that he owned for 8 years and I fell in love with this cat. We had our moments like when he would try to eat my cereal at the same time I was but I still cared for him. Well one fatefull day I did some laundry and put the clothes in the dryer. When my boyfriend came home to change for work he found the body of his cat in the dryer. I can’t seem to stop crying and feel that it was my fault. I keep thinking of what it was likr for him and I hate my self for it. There was no noise that would have made me think that he would of been in the dryer. I just don’t know what to do with myself now.

  • Rebecca

    Thank you Laurie. My cat is ok. But because I left the door to the lanai cracked for the cat my tea cup Yorkie somehow got out of the bathroom I had shut her in – then onto the lanai- probably fell down the stairs and into the pool. When I came home my angel was gone. Not doing so good. But thank you for the kind words. This site and the book gave me some tools I am trying.

  • Laurie

    Dear Rebecca,

    I am so sorry for your loss. The only thing worse than losing a cat you love is thinking that you did something to cause her death. The guilt and pain seems overwhelming, and like it’ll never go away.

    I remember calling my white cat from my front door, and seeing her stagger out of the bushes, dragging her crushed, bloody, broken leg behind her. It was the worst sight I’ve ever seen. The veterinarian put her to sleep, and I felt like it was my fault.

    You didn’t cause your cat’s death, any more than I caused mine. They were terrible, tragic accidents. I don’t know why they had to happen, but they did. If you knew your kitty cat would have died this way, you would never have left her.

    I hope you can eventually forgive yourself. Your cat is in peace now, and not reliving her end. You’re reliving her final moments, but she is beyond that. She is resting – perhaps even chasing mice and rolling in catnip, in her version of kitty cat heaven!

    I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • Rebecca

    Thank you Robert. The final moments are what is giving me the most difficulty. My rational side knows she is whole again – feeling better than she has in a long time. She was on daily pain medicine and appetite stimulators – I tried to be a good 2nd mom for her – she had a rough first couple of years. I just totally blew it on that last day. I keep going over it – all I had to was keep the cat inside close the lanai. I cannot accept what I let happen to her. She was so tiny and defenseless. This was my job. It just keeps going over and over how and what my baby went through. Thank you for the very kind thoughts.

  • Robert

    Rebecca,
    I am so sorry for your loss and for the pain you are enduring. If you search down this thread you will see that I too lost a beloved pet to a drowning. It was horrible beyond words. I have since found a way to (mostly) forgive myself and to remember the love and care I gave to the pet. Your pain is huge…I know. Allow yourself to grieve but never forget that you loved your dog with all your heart. She knew that and is now at peace. Traumatic deaths are so difficult to process as our minds always run with the thoughts of their final moments. Do not allow those thoughts to rob you of years of wonderful memories. I did and it pulled me into a dark place. You are not to blame for what happened. One day you will be reunited with Lovey and all will be made right. Her sight will be restored, her limbs will no longer ache and her youth will be restored. I know that any real heaven could not be complete without the gift of our fur-children. I wish you peace and hope that sooner, rather than later it makes its way into your mind and heart.

  • Rebecca

    I cannot forgive myself. I cannot stop crying. My Lovey passed away on Saturday. She was a tea cup Yorkie. She was old, arthritic, blind in one eye – she did not like the lanai. I left the lanai cracked for the cat to get in and out. Never worried about Lovie because she did’t like the lanai. Also we have a large master bath I closed her in the bathroom before I left just to be safe. The door to the bathroom is like a slider. Lovey was only 3 lbs I can only guess that that cat somehow slid the bathroom door open. Or Lovey somehow fell into it and accidently opened. she was so small and confused she could not have opened that door on purpose. I would never have imagined this nightmare. Somehow the bathroom got open and Lovey got onto the lanai. Lovey hates the lanai. She must have been so confused and scared. she somehow made her way around to the other side and would have had to have fallen down the stairs – she was to small to do the stairs -all the way around to the other side and down to the lower level. When I got home she was floating in the pool. Nothing would bring her back. My mind keeps going round and round the different scenarios how this happened – how many things had to happen. My little girl had to have been so scared and alone – i wasnt there. My husband says it is not my fault but it is my fault. It is my fault my angel is gone. I cannot stop crying – my heart is broken – my baby is gone and it is all my fault. I love you my little Lovey I am so so very sorry little one. Please forgive me. God help me I cannot forgive myself.

  • Robert

    MM,

    Perhaps pet ownership is not for you. It is good that you now recognize that animals require a consistent level of care. I would suggest that one way for you to handle your pain is to reach out to a local animal shelter and find out how you can volunteer. Maybe going to walk a few dogs…or play with some cats that need attention.

    Recognizing our limitations and responsibilities that might interfere with properly caring for an animal is admirable. Far to many animals wind up on the street or neglected because their owners did not think out or plan for their lives together. Getting past the guilt that you feel will not be easy, but it can be a springboard for you becoming an advocate for animals in need.

    Best of luck to you.

  • Robert

    Pauline,

    What you did was an act of kindness. The fact that the cat accidently died does not change the fact that you tried to help this poor creature. I can only imagine the trauma that you endured as a result of what happened….but you are not to blame. You opened your home and your heart to an animal in need. Thank you.

    Robert

  • MM

    My bunny died on Thursday. There was nothing I could do at the time to save her and nothing that the vet could have done. But the remorse and guilt are eating me because I know that the last few weeks I didn’t have as much time to properly feed her or give her water, she was really skinny. I really loved her though and loved watching her little face and caring her. I loved holding her and there is nothing sweeter in the world than she was. I loved watching her run around my room. I even built a cage – but that cage wasn’t as great as i thought and it was impossible to clean after a while, so I stopped cleaning it. Ever since her death I can’t stop crying or thinking about it and how I neglected the poor innocent bunny. I think that she died from drinking so much water that she froze to death… I don’t know but I know that I played a role. I cry every night and I prey about her and I prey to her and I think about her and I want to know what I can do for god’s forgiveness and hers. I wish that she lived longer- I wish that she grew old and I wish that today she hopped around my room. I wish that whenever I entered my room from now on I would see her. I keep thinking about her little grey fur and her dark blue eyes. I keep thinking about her standing by the door always looking out – forever she’ll live in my heart. Forever I’ll remember her little face and energy. She was so innocent and couldn’t speak up to me when she was hungry or tired or thirsty. And i kept thinking and hoping she would use her regular bunny water bottle but she didn’t. I kept saying I would get her a cage but i let life take over and every days chores and problems to be put in the way. Wish i took her out of the cage and let her out. Forever she will be in my heart. I am a human and I can love- I have that ability. never has a broken heart or death of someone caused me such grief and guilt. I hope that god forgives me and she really is in a better place. I will never neglect a poor helpless animal again.

    Thanks for reading:(

  • Pauline

    I accidentally caused a cats death tonight and I feel terrible. We have lived beside this cat for years it’s owners moved and left it. We have been feeding it for many weeks on our porch it was such a great cat. Last night it was terribly cold so I put out a box with a blanket for him. He pawed the window for he first time essentially saying let me Iin! We own a dog and cat and I didn’t know if it had fleas or nails or even knew how to use. Litter box. I checked on him during the night and saw him curled up asleep. He ideas so old he was and bones. Tonight after dinner I couldn’t stand the thought of him out there so I brought him into the garage got his food and water bowl from the porch and brought them into the garage. I went to close the garage our and it wouldn’t shut. I didn’t notice him. I crushed his back or shoulders n he was circling around in pain. He died few minutes later. I have been crying all night I can’t believe this happened!!! I don’t think I’ll ever get over it

  • Laurie

    Dear Butterfly whisperer,

    Thank you for sharing your story; I’m so sorry that you lost your cat this way.

    Your feelings of guilt are understandable, but you have to remember that you didn’t cause your cat’s death! Oliver was the victim of our “dog eat dog” world…he would’ve been killed by the coyote no matter what. It was his time to go.

    Picking up the pieces of his body is a traumatic thing to do. I believe it can cause a reaction like PSTD, because it is so stressful and painful.

    How are you coping with the guilt, stress, pain, and grief of losing your cat? What specific things are you doing to try to deal with it? Sometimes it helps to talk it out with others who have lost their pets, who understand how you feel.

    It may help to rescue a cat from a shelter or humane society, to start spreading love and service to another feline. That may help you cope with the feelings of guilt and trauma. What do you think of this? Many people who have recently lost their cats or dogs aren’t ready to open their hearts and homes to a new one, but other people are ready faster than others.

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  • Butterfly whisperer

    I know i caused the death of my beautiful cat, and i can never forgive myself Oliver was perfect in every way He was funny and loved playing with our two dogs. I still remember seeing him bounce across our yard getting kitty kisses from the dogs, and every morning he was by my side while I made lunches for our three kids. Me only prob with oliver is he peed on our wood floors. When a flood hit our house this summer insurance paid to put new wood floors in, and we thought we were saved. Surely he wouldn’t pee on new floors? Not so He did for weeks and I kept cleaning it up knowing my husband would flip out if he knew. On December 5th I awoke to find that Oliver our beautiful cat had peed on our brand new wood floors AGAIN. I grew angry while i was cleaning it up and I thought that it would be better if a coyote got him.

    I got my horrible wish. That night. That night I let him Out as usual but didn’t make a huge effort to get him back in. He had spent several nights outside in our yard in the past which I thought was safe with no trouble. He was a hunter and love to be outside. But he never left our yard. Oliver was a bad ass cat. And we thought our yard impenetrable. At 4 am I woke up half asleep and thought of him…the thought of a coyote came to mind but i dismissed it, telling myself he is such a bad ass cat he would kick the shit out of a coyote. I woke an hour later with a horrible feeling and running downstairs I saw what was left of my beautiful boy on the back lawn. in horror I knew I had had a premonition and did nothing.

    Me and my 18 year old son had to pick up what was left of our beautiful child and hide the brutality of it from Oliver’s little girl, my daughter. I am convinced I have PTSD. I can’t sleep and my heart is broken. I feel like its my fault. I know it’s my fault. I was a bad owner and I could have saved him. I feel like murder was done in my backyard. The murder of a family member which could have been prevented. I can’t get the image of him out of my mind. My son is still rattled so I know it’s not just me. But I carry the burden of not bringing him in and wishing him bad because of a stupid floor.

  • KJ

    Robert,
    Just wanted to tell you that I don’t think anyone reading your story would blame you for your Rascal’s death! That said, I know how hard it is to let go of the feelings of guilt…even for things that are completely out of your control 🙁 I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope you can find comfort in the wonderful times you had with your kitty. Take care.

  • Robert

    I am beyond heartbroken after the death of our beloved cat. Normally I take the death of one of our many pets a bit easier…but in this case, I feel as though I may have been negligent in a way that resulted in his death. Rascal drowned in our pool cover. He never went anywhere near the cover and I thought that even of he did, he would have been able to get out. I was wrong. I can tell from claw marks on the cover that he struggled mightily for quite some time as there were hundreds of marks. I should have known and now he is gone. I didn’t let my son know how he died as I didn’t want to visit that horror on him. I spent over an hour blow drying Rascal so that I could tell my son that he died peacefully on the deck…in his sleep. Rascal was an old cat. We rescued him from an abusive situation about 6 years ago. I know we gave him love and a good life…but this ending is a horrible death for which I feel fully responsible. I will never forgive myself for this.

  • Laurie Post author

    Dear Amber,

    I am so sorry to hear about your dog’s death. My heart breaks for you and your husband. I’m glad you know it wasn’t your fault, and I thank you for sharing your story. It’s important for other small dog owners to learn how accidents can happen. I let my dog under our recliner, too, and never thought it could be so disastrous.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, as you mourn the loss of your dog.

    Sincerely,
    Laurie

  • amber

    my dog PO bear a Pomeranian loved to sleep under our couch. we have built in recliners under our couch. from the time he was a puppy that was his favorite spot. tonight my husband sat in the couch like always and let out the foot rest. he never noticed anything amiss. when i came home from work i was calling him to let him outside. he always waited for me to get home to go outside. when he didnt come thats when we realized something was wrong. we lifted up the couch to find him passed away. somehow he had been laying just right and when the foot came out on the couch he was in between. he is well over 2 years old and this has been his favroite spot from the time i brought him home. we have put pillows under the couch to block it off and somehow he always found a way under there. i just feel like we killed him for allowing him to sleep under a couch with recliner and we ultimatly killed him. i just keep remembering taking him outside this mornign before work, giving him a kiss as i set him in the house, and shutting the door and watching him jump up in the window and barking becuase i left the house. i know it wasnt my fault i just feel terrible if i had not let him under the couch in the first place this never wouldnt have happened and he would still be here with me

  • TEP

    Laurie-

    We ended up putting my sweet baby girl down yesterday afternoon. I came home from work and my mom stayed home from work to be with her, said she was breathing extremely hard. I came home to find that out for myself as well, and to see that her coughing was getting worse. It was a struggle to watch her and a struggle to decide what to do. As bad as I didn’t want to say goodbye to her I didn’t want to continue to watch that. It was more heartbreaking than anything. So we took her to my vet (who I worked for for 3 years, so it was very personal) and we had her put to sleep. I managed to keep it together enough to stay with her through the whole process, and I am glad I did. Her last breath was taken laying in my lap, with me petting her head and ears, looking into her eyes telling her how much I loved her. It was very emotional but now looking back on it I am glad I don’t have to keep anticipating that time, I think watching her suffer was more heartbreaking than knowing she is in doggy heaven now playing around. I miss her so much but I know this was for her best.

  • TEP

    Laurie-

    Thank you for your sweet words. They helped me see this in a different perspective. It still will not be easy to do this, but knowing she will be out of pain will be comforting. A tumor popped up on her neck about 2 days ago (about the size of a quarter) and has already taken over her entire neck (about the size of a softball or bigger now) and has moved into her lips, making her face very swollen. Her breathing is far more labored now, and she has been coughing some. I think the time is extremely near. I love her so much but I don’t want to prolong her suffering. I love photography and so have taken quite a few pictures of her recently before her neck tumor came up, so I will be using one of those to make a shadow box memorial for her. Seeing how much worse she is getting over a matter of 24 hours is helping me come to terms with how much better off she will be if I just go ahead and do this. And again thank you for responding to my post, I will hold your kind advice close to my heart as I go through this. I will let you know what happens next.

  • Laurie Post author

    Dear TEP,

    You’re not causing your dog’s death, you’re putting her out of suffering. There’s a difference! Old age and illness is causing her death; you’re protecting her from a slow, painful death.

    Death is a mystery, but it’s not necessarily a dark evil bad one. Death is often a sweet release and a freedom from the constraints of the physical pain of this earth.

    If you think of death as bad and the end of everything good, then of course you’ll feel terrible and guilty for putting your dog to sleep. But if you remember that what we know about death is positive and welcoming, you may feel a bit better about letting your dog go. People who have had near-death experiences tell us that death is freedom, lightness, and release.

    I don’t know what death brings, but I have 2 options: 1) to believe death is bad; and 2) to believe death may be preferable to life on earth. Since I don’t know which is true, I prefer to believe that death isn’t something to be feared. I believe my pets who have died have souls that are in fact happier and more peaceful now than they were on earth.

    Putting your dog to sleep may be your final act of love and compassion for her. It may be far more preferable to the life she has now. Sometimes the only way to overcome the guilt we feel for putting our dogs down is to believe that this is by far the best choice for them.

    When your dog is put down, she will look for you with her trusting, loving eyes. And you will be there for her. You will stroke her head and tell her that you love her, and you will say good-bye as she leaves this earth. You will know that you have performed a final act of love, kindness, and compassion for her. You will know you did the right thing for her – and in this life, the right thing
    is often the most painful choice.

    Then, it’s time to start mourning her. You may feel like your heart is being ripped out and you’ll never be happy again. You may feel like you could never love again — you’ve loved your dog for half your life!

    But her death is a natural part of a healthy life. We have to let go of our precious animals because their lives are short and precious. It’s a bittersweet thing, to love and lose a pet….and right now the pain is overwhelming.

    I am crying as I write this, because I know how hard it is to lose someone you love. But I also know that this experience will give you strength and courage, and open your heart to love in a whole new way.

    Please come back anytime and let me know how it went.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • TEP

    I have had my golden retreiver/chow chow mix since I was eleven years old, and I am nearly 21. She has been my bestfriend for a long almost 10 years. I found out in September that she has Lymphoma. Doc gave her three to six months. This past week she has developed a tumor under her neck that is quickly growing, and one in her abdomen that is also quickly growing. Her breathing has become labored, although she still eats and likes to chase her ball as her breathing allows, but I know the time to make “the decision” is coming near. How do you force yourself to make that decision? I feel like I’m scheduling my baby girls death and I just can’t bring myself to do that, even though I know it is best for her to be out of pain. I am a total basketcase lately thinking about all of this. I would feel so guilty “scheduling” her death. I want to go with her when the procedure is done so she won’t be as scared, but I don’t know how I will react. I can’t stand the thought of her looking me in the eyes, and trusting me, and knowing that I did that to her. Can anybody give me any advice?

  • robin

    Heartbroken your story helped me tremendously…i almost cannot bear your pain and agony and you have helped me so much dealing with guilt over how i waited too long to take my dog to the vet. I pray for you to have solace and know that you loved your dog more than anything and you would have done everything differently with hindsight. I know your dog jumped happily to go for a bikeride and my Rudy had just jumped happily on me at a return from a trip (I talked to him on speakerphone on the ride back from the airport)…then dead less tha 24 hours later….i hope you have found some peace. Thank you for sharing from the bottom of my heart

  • Heartbroken

    I am pained with guilt in my heart.
    I had a plan to take my family with my dog, on a bike ride. The plan changed when we got to the beach and the water was so amazing. We decided to go for a swim. but the beach said no dogs. I had my man put her in the car. he had the windows down and gave her ice cold water. its september in LA. the temp was only 73. I thought she would be fine for a little while. my man checked her often, giving her fresh water and making sure she was ok. but the last time he checked up on her she was dead.

    I can not forgive myself. I had told her we were going on a bike ride. She was so happy. then I had her put in the car, i didnt even do it myself. I am sure if i had put her in the car, I would have NOT left her. I would have seen the danger and gone back to the original plan.
    so many things i would do differently if I only could.

    she was my friend. always loved me no matter what. I let her down in the MOST cruel despicable way.I am ashamed, and so sad. I wish i could go back. i didnt even get to see her before she was gone.
    I wish i had stuck to the plan and gone on the bike ride.
    why oh why did i do this.
    I can never forgive myself. such pain. I am sure it is only a fraction of the pain that she felt waiting for me, her mommy, to come get her from the car. but her mommy never came. her mommy was splashing in the ocean.
    lord help me. i am evil. and so sad.
    what have i done.
    i am so sorry my little one. i dont think i will ever be the same again. saddness overcomes me. deep deep sorrow.
    i cant stop crying.
    i want to say that i love her, and i do, but my actions that day speak otherwise. if I loved her how could I let this terrible accident happen. I wasnt there when she needed me. I trusted her to someone elses judgment. i let her down and she died .

  • Melinda

    Our Missy the cat was 12 years old. My daughter took her to the vet a fews months ago and said that her heavy breathing was due to age, and they could run test, but my daughter said no, lately she was gaining weight in her tummy, Missy has always been a thin cat, I looked up on internet ands it said that sometimes cats get a tummy when they get older. Missy had been staying in the bathrom lately, I had always heard that when cats are sick they go to a place to hid, she woule eat aand then go to the bathroom and sit in front of the toilet tank, Saturday we were having dinner and she put her paws on my knee as she had done for 12 years and i gave her a piece of chicken the size of a pea, she ate it and walked back to the bathroom, me and my daughter saw her and her tummy was getting bigger. We quit eating and I started looking for a vet as this was Saturday, I found one and my daughter took her in, as soon as she got there they asked if her breathing was always like this and she said yes. they took her to the back and gave oxygen and they did xrays and they said that the tummy was so covered with fluid they could not see her inside, the vet thought a heart arythhmia they could ihelp her but since they did not know where the fuild was coming from that it would be better to put her under. My daughter called me devasted as I stayed home and I chose not to go, I just knew in my heart this was not going to be good. The decision was to put her down. I told my daughter to tell her good-bye for me and how muched I loved her. I feel like i never really said good-bye to Missy. I guess in my heart I just knew or I was hoping that she was coming back home. I will miss you my dear Missy, but I know we will meet again. We decided to have her cremated and will be picking her up this week.

  • David

    I was working a few days ago and as I was doing a delivery I run over a Jack Russell. I never seen the dog run onto the road as at that split second I was looking at the other side of the street. As soon as I felt my car running over something I looked in my rear view mirror and was shocked to see that it was a dog. Friends and family who I have spoke to regarding have said things ranging from ‘it was just a dog’ and ‘it was an accident, therefore it was not my fault.’ I can understand how it was an accident which if I had of known was going to occur I would have done whatever was necessary to prevent it from happening. Two people who lived in the street had heard the thump as my car hit the animal and as I got out of my car to inspect the animal one of the residents said ‘dont touch it.’ This only occurred a few days ago but as time goes on I just seem to be feeling worse for causing the animals demise. What makes it even worse was that the animal wasn’t killed out right and was still alive while I ran over to it. It was moving as if trying to get up but there was no sound coming from it at all. At the time I was in shock and because a resident had shouted not to touch it I assumed it was his animal but it wasn’t. The owner of the animal arrived on the scene within a minute and the story was that she had been in a field behind the houses with her neighbour who also had his dogs with him. The dogs had been playing with chasing each other and that is how the dog ended up running in front of my car while it was in motion. Some people I have spoken to have said that the animal would have already been dead after having a tonne of car run over the top of it, twice considering my front and rear wheel ran over it. At the time when I was inspecting the dogs condition, a part of me felt that I should comfort the animal with petting it while it died which is what I done. Although now with thinking about it, the fact that there was no noise coming from the animal was because my car ran over its body and more than likely crushed its lungs and rib cage. Now I am left wondering if I had of tried to intervene by blowing air into the dogs lungs would it have helped save the animal or, would it have made the dogs final few moments worse as its body had been crushed. Some people say I think way too much about this but I have always been an animal lover since I can remember and now, knowing that I have contributed to the death of one I feel like I need to be punished in some way as a means of retribution for the animals demise. I am always going to be left wondering that if I had of intervened by supporting the animal onto its feet or by resuscitating it would it have given the dog a chance of survival, or would that have made internal bleeding from its crushed organs accelerate? meaning that the animal would have been in more pain which in turn would have made it experience a more traumatic death. I think in a way the punishment for this accident is the fact that I have to live remembering the animals final few seconds. I would never wish an experience like this on anyone and I only hope that it never happens to me again. Sorry pup and R.I.P.

  • RL

    I lost my Bengal cat Romy of 7 yeas this past Thursday. He entered our lives unexpectedly. He was light when my wife and I needed him. We named him Romeo the lover. All he ever really wanted to do was lay in bed with me or my wife or find a comfortable place on my lap. I had found him on the side of a road one night as I watced him almost be run over by another car.
    Although he was never 100 percent healthy when we found him(a small mass on his neck and a consistent runny nose) that never stopped him from enjoying life. We had taken him for multiple trips to they vet yet they could not shed light on the cause for his health issues.
    He enjoyed being with us at all times and his desire for love and affection is what I miss most writing this now. The next 6 and half years with him he was ours and we were his.
    However this past wednesay I noticed him breathing with some difficulty. It was late at night and I was unsure whether to bring him to the vet that night. I decided to watch him that evening. He seemed slightly better in the morning and I took him to work with me that day, wanting to make sure his breathing would return to normal. It did not get much by the afternoon and I then took him to the vet. within 15 minutes the vet was telling me that they had him on CPR and whether I wanted to have them resuscitate him. It is now 3 days later and it is a total blur. I am still in shock and feel sadness, loneliness, and guilt.
    I remind myself of all the love and happiness but keep running through my mind could I have done something differently ? He was an older cat when we found him(probably 4 or 5 I was told) . He was always more of a sleeper than jumper so his inactivity did not surprise alarm me as he got older.
    The fact that he left so quickly I feel is what is hurting the most. He spent his last hours with me before the vet and that I am grateful for. But I just feel like he’s gone and I’m not totally sure what he was suffering from. The vet says he may have had cancer or something may have ruptured internally.
    Right now I just so sad. I miss him in the house. I miss seeing him walk around, feeding him, having him on my lap, sitting next to me or walk up to my leg for some affection. I hope as they say time heals all wounds because right now I just feel really wounded. I love you Romy.

  • Kevin

    Kenny, you still have Holly, no matter whether you feel she falls short of the other or not. If you believe in God as you claim to, remember this is part of his plan. She was left in your hands for a reason, and if something happens to her, your guilt will be doubled.

    As for my story, five days ago I watched my cat die. For 17 years he was my loving shadow and friend; knowing he was old and sickly and now no longer in pain doesn’t make his passing any easier. Like the rest of you I’m tortured by guilt because at one point about six years ago he was using the entire house as his litter box, usually on occasions when I was too busy or too lazy to clean it daily, and I yelled like a psychotic at him. Every day he is constantly in my thoughts and I can’t stop weeping for my old friend or reliving what it was like in his last moments.

    I have another, older cat and she’s nowhere near as affectionate or close to me as the other, but I’m going out of my way to treat her even more gently than I always have and to appreciate her presence in my life.

    I’ve lost close relatives and a couple of friends, but their deaths didn’t hit me half as hard as this, maybe because as humans our love is always conditional. Our pets are love itself, with no strings.

  • K

    I had to give up my two cockatiels- one that I had for 21 years..the older one was emotionally attached to me. I could not care for them due to recent illness. My mom gave them to a friend. It was so difficult for me and I knew the risks of giving them up, esp. the older one being so attached to me. I had since been asking how my birds were doing and my mom said she hadn’t had the chance to ask about them. It’s been a month and a half…just found out what I feared most – the older one died. She says I should not blame myself because he was old but I know that he died of heartbreak. He’d still be alive if he had not been given away. The other bird is ok. Who knows what really happened to the older one..maybe neglected or something bad may have been done.. because he was old and not as attractive as the other. I’m sorry Munchkin..you will always be in my heart..you were a beautiful bird, I will never forget you and I send you kisses up to heaven…RIP..I miss you..I love you..you are whistling with Andy Griffith up in heaven now

  • chuck gates

    5/30/12 I lost my best friend BANDIT, a 10 year old solid black long hair male feline. He got run over an killed in front of the house sometime during the night. He loved his night time freedom, and i gave it to him. I buryed him in the garden. 9/9/12 BANDIT and i moved to diffrent house with 2-3 acers of woods in the back and a very small front yard with a busy street. He did well with the move, he was only in the house a few hours before he and i went outside, he did not run off. BANDIT was the greatest thing that ever happened to me, and best 10 years of my life. I sould have kept him in at night. I feel so guilty, i don’t know if i can get over it. People keep your cats in at night. BANDIT 04/15/02-05/30/12- You were the greatest.

  • Corne Vlok

    Hi
    Could someone help me, I am losing it!!! Had to euthanize my dog on Friday. I am not coping with the guilt!!! Going crazy. The vet said maybe cortizone would help, but Max lost more than 1/4 of his weight, was not eating half of what he used to, did not drink water – only when I picked him up and put him next to the water, I am not home during the day and for the last 4 weeks he has been lying where I left him in the morning, so he did not drink any water or eat anything while I was gone. I had to take him outside to do his business. I took him to the vet 3 weeks ago and he said he had a very serious long infection, gave him injections and antibiotics – seemed to help – but he started coughing again about 2 days before I made the decision that it was better for him – and believe me – definetely better for him – because I am dying inside now. I know I did it for him – not to prolong his pain. He could not use his back legs that well anymore – really battled to walk and his right front leg also starting to give in. I just do not know how to survive and stop feeling guilty!! Could someone help me – will it ever get better??? Do you ever stop feeling guilty!!! Does the battle ever stop in your mind???
    Corné

  • Stephanie G

    We adopted Lucky five months ago from an acquaintance, who reasoned that he was overwhelmed and did not have time for him. What a sweet, smart, affectionate Jack Russell– classic in his tremendous energy and curiosity. We quickly developed an incredible bond. As he adjusted to our household, including a mellow older Jack, we noticed increasing agitation and combative behavior towards other dogs; I don’t want to call it aggressive, but sometimes, unpredictably, he would snap at them, or us. He often bullied my older dog, who began displaying depressed, withdrawn behavior. I recalled that the man I adopted him from mentioned trouble between Lucky and their newly adopted Pitbull. About a month ago, I decided it was best to re-home Lucky through the SPCA. Unfortunately, they assessed his behavior as too fearful and a bite risk and we were rejected. I had been contemplating more training and other re-homing options. Two days ago, unprovoked, Lucky bit my housemate in the face, very close to one of her eyes. The injury has required stitches and possibly plastic surgery. She and I are both devastated. Although my love for Lucky was not diminished, I felt that he was a risk to have in our home. Because we needed to take my housemate to the ER, I filed a bite report with the Animal Services. I told them I needed to surrender the dog. Today my boyfriend and I took Lucky in, and the receptionist recommended that he be euthanized immediately, rather than subjected to the usual 10-day quarantine, then euthanization. She suggested that it was more humane than subjecting him to the discomfort of 10 days of stressful captivity with the same end. That conversation simply broke me. My boyfriend and I discussed it, and decided to follow her cue. I feel an unreasonable amount of guilt about this whole thing. I wanted to improve his life, and feel like ultimately, I failed. I find myself sobbing “I’m so sorry.” The animal control officer had asked me to put a muzzle on him before handing him the leash. Lucky allowed me to place it on him with no hesitation. He trusted me completely. I cannot forget Lucky’s eyes as he looked up at me, afraid and confused, as if wondering why. I fell apart and left the building crying. I can’t stop crying and telling him I’m sorry. A few years ago, when my best friend died, I built a small altar to her, with her picture and offerings of things she loved. Candles, incense. I’ll be building one for Lucky tonight. Rest in peace, Little Face. You were loved very much.

  • Becky

    Renee-I am in a similar situation as you and I understand your grief and guilt. The day befor mother’s day I forgot my dog was outside with me when he wandered away from sitting with me on the deck. I found him in the road dead, only about 10 minutes had lapsed and we live in rural Maine with a huge backyard. He was practically a baby at just 16 months old and I am so heartbroken right now.
    My husband was wonderfully supportive, I’m not sure I could deal with what your husband is doing to you on top of the grief and guilt. It would be too much to bear. Please consider greif counseling and surround yourself with as many supportive people as you can. I am avoiding unsupportive people as it just makes the hurt worse. Hugs….

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Dear Renee,

    I’m so sorry about your dog’s death, and that you feel you caused it. And, it’s especially painful because of your husband’s reaction! It must seem overwhelming.

    I really, really recommend the book I mentioned in this article — the one about Self-Compassion. You need to forgive yourself for forgetting your dog was outside. You made an honest mistake, and you need to stop beating yourself up over it. It was an accident, and unfortunately it had terrible consequences. But the consequences don’t make it any less of an accident!

    My heart goes out to you. I hope your husband will be able to forgive you — he may be reacting so harshly towards you because he feels devastated, helpless, and overwhelmed with grief. He isn’t thinking clearly, and I’m sure that once he mourns your dog’s death, he will take back his harsh words to you.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Sincerely,
    Laurie

  • Renee Wright

    I accidentally caused our English Bulldogs death by forgetting he was outside…we live in TX and by most standards, it was only warm, but he couldn’t take the heat. It just tears me up and I am riddled with guilt and sorrow…what’s worse is my spouse told me immediately after that I was selfish and did not deserve a dog…along with a few other things, basically anything mean he could think to say…but no comfort…and now he tells me when I’m grieving, to get over it…I can’t…I loved our dog…he was my companion and
    I just can’t forgive myself for not being there when he needed me.

  • Memow Miller

    My beautiful Lilly- only 4 years old- and, I know everyone says it, but the most unique cat ever. I had to put her to sleep after she started to deteriorate from a chronic kidney problem (she was, we discovered, after an ultrasound, born with only one kidney and the other misshapen and too small). She became very ill last year at the same time but pulled through- so we spent the winter dreading this month coming around again. This time we were “prepared” – can you ever really be?
    Does anyone really know for sure that you did the right thing? I know in my head, yes, but I still spend sleepless nights with guilt. I still feel her jumping onto my bed at night and curling at my feet. And I still cry- and am as I write this today.

  • KJ

    4 days ago we said goodbye to our beloved cat. In January he suddenly stopped eating and we took him to the vet. They did bloodwork and found nothing out of the ordinary, and assumed it was dental problems causing him not to eat. We scheduled him in the next day for a tooth cleaning and an extraction. We also had him on antibiotics, meds to coat his stomach and an appetite stimulant. The vet bills were huge and none of it helped. Sometimes he would eat, but mostly he just licked at his food and due to this had lost a lot of weight. Last Thursday I found him in distress, suffering from a seizure or maybe a stroke, I don’t know. We rushed him to the vet who told us to euthanize, which we did. I wish I had noticed his weight loss earlier. I am sick with guilt over the fact that I did not have more testing done, or get a second opinion from another vet or SOMETHING that may have prolonged his life. I was home Thursday afternooon, upstairs with music playing, and I did not go check on him and maybe he was crying and I didn’t hear it. I don’t remember if I petted him the day before. I feel like a monster. I have barely eaten since this happened, cannot stop crying and am now in physical pain from an old car accident injury that hasn’t bothered me in years. My husband doesn’t understand why I am blaming myself, he was the actual owner of our cat (took him in 10 years ago as a stray) and was mostly responsible for his care. He is happy that we were able to give him a loving home and let him live out his time in peace. But all I can think about is the what-ifs, and am running all these different scenarios in my head. Even though we have several other cats that are quite elderly and in great health, I feel like I’ve failed. I’m so sad and I desperately miss him.

  • Wendy G

    My friend, listener, and cuddle buddy was made a star today 4/09/2012. I never thought it would be so hard, but it was. Crazie had deteriorated when we left her at a friends house in between moves. In the last months started to have seizures, not eating, had a hard time walk, but never gave up on trying to get a drink from the bathroom sink or tub. I carried her up and down the stairs since she would try to follow. I brought her home to my parents house to have my dad help me, but Crazie looked like she was getting better. She was eating, drinking and cuddling (snuck her into the bedroom) Her purr was loud, how can I have done this to her!! She has always been there for me and I let her down. I carried her out of the vet crying my eyes out and waited for her to wake up.
    It feels just like yesterday that we picked her up from some lady outside walmart. Ever since that day, she was mine. Crazie would always cuddle under my left arm and purr till she fell asleep. Always there to greet me when I came home or didn’t really want to talk. I am still waiting for her to jump on the bed to make me stop writing and pay her some mind. LOL. I miss you a lot Crazie!!!!! You gave me a great 13 years and I hope I did the same for you.

  • Jennifer S. From Oregon

    Today 4/2/12 we also had to put our beloved 12 year old Yellow Labrador Bruiser down. We had him since he was a puppy and he was the best and most loyal & mellow dog we’ve had. He had a severe seizure last week and his back legs became paralyzed to where he could hardly walk or go potty and he was so sad and clearly in pain. I know we & the Vet made the right decision but it’s so difficult. I almost don’t want to go home & see his empty yard. Sometimes I feel guilty for not walking him enough, etc.. Last winter we had to also put our sweet 5 year old kitty down due to liver failure. It’s so hard to see your Pets in pain and dying. Seems like these days our beloved pets keep passing away.

  • Ck

    Today we put our 13yr old german sheperd down. He had hip problems and was falling and injured his back. He was feeling pain in his hip that he couldnt sit down properly anymore. Three months ago he had a surgury and got tumor removed and was 34kg (already skinny). and yesterday went to vet he was 28kg. and was eating normally but still decreased in weight due to age and the vet recommended me to put him down and we did it the next day(today). I felt guilty for making the decision having him put down and also i felt i could have done so much more in making his life better.Hes been a part of me like seeing him is like a habit,a habit similar to something we had to do like brushing teeth and taking a shower. I just cant imagine walking in the backyard not seeing him and always calling his name out. Gucci! my friend told me hes free now and its better for him. Yeah i know but i just miss him so much so so much.

  • DB

    Today we put our beagle down and I’m still in shock that it’s all over. Cody was 13 and probably could have gone for a few more years but he was getting more and more agitated with the noise making and running our kids would do on a daily basis. Rather than face a more serious situation, we decided that a change had to be made. After calling several shelters, we found that none could take in a dog of his age, and some vets recommended euthanasia. Rather than wait for an illness to cause him pain or worse, a bite to one of our children, we decided to go ahead with it. I couldn’t even bring myself to accompany my wife and father as they left for the vet, and I didn’t even want to look him in the eye and say goodbye because I knew what it would do to me inside. We LOVE you Cody, and may we all be reunited again in heaven, old friend.

  • Stephanie

    I had to put my 13yr old siamese cat Marty to sleep on saturday due to mistakes made by his old vet he ended up with an infection in his system due to his teeth and also kidney failure he was in so much pain he cried out loud stopped eating and drinking i could not see him suffer anymore and i had to make the choice to have him put to sleep it hurt me to do it but the vet said it was so bad that it was the best choice i can’t function Marty was my bestfriend in ways he loved me no matter what he kept me company he cuddled up beside me on the bed and nestled his head on my arm watched tv with me now he is gone and i am a wreck i can’t afford to have him cremated i can’t bury him in my back yard can’t afford to get him a plot so my cat can’t rest and neither can i knowing he is at peace when he isn’t right now to cremate a 4lb cat the want $200.00 dollars or more i wanted to keep him close to me in my home in a nice urn i don’t know what to do this is killing me i want my cat to rest and be at peace i love you Marty i did what i thought was right for you.

  • Jackie

    I am so sad and sorry to hear all you’re stories they are so heartbreaking, but I know what you all mean when you feel guilt and so much heartbreak and are crying all the time. I lost my April on 3/15/12 she was 12 years old, she was a mini schnauzer. She grew up with all my kids and was the best dog EVER! I came home to find her mauled by my other dog Roxy who was 3 and part lab part pit, she and April were always good friends, there was some pizza out back that she loved! April must have snipped at her or vice versa and there they went. The manner as to which she died I can’t get out of my head, all these questions, did she suffer, was she alone and cold, was she scared, all these questions that I will never ever have answers to. I miss her so much that my heart hurts, I can’t eat, sleep, everything reminds me of her, I still see her little slobber on my car window or the window at home. We buried her out back in her bed and we covered her body with a jacket of hers and she looked asleep but just the thought of her being out in the backyard alone and in the dark really gets to me. I know the saying “out of body in with the Lord” but I still wish I would have put her in a box, my husband wouldn’t let me, I feel like digging her back up and putting her in a box, not sure if this is appropriate thinking but I am really not thinking right. I hope I can find peace soon because I am really tearing my self up. I wish I would have left her in the house and told my son to not put her outside, my husband blames himself for putting the pizza out and my son blames himself for putting her out. The other dog Roxy was also put down and we are sad about that too but her actions were unspeakable. I know there is a heaven for all animals no matter what they have done. St. Francis de Asisi will be there Saint and our animals will be waiting for us at Rainbow Bridge.

  • SONJIA LEONARD

    I had to put my 6 year old dachshund down today. I loved him so much. He had be sick for a week. Just getting worse by the day. Started off thinking g it was a back problem. Then within day rapid weight loss total paralysis and bleeding from rectum. He had cancer and we never knew. It was the hardest thing I’ve had to do. I feel so guilty. Like I let him down. He would just look at me confused. I tried everything but nothing worked and he was in pain. One side of me knows I did what was best for him. That was no way for him to live. The other side is selfish and wanted him here and feels guilty like I let him down. I will always miss my Chewy.

  • Greg

    On Monday, my cat was put to sleep after 21 years together. I looked for answers as to why I feel so quilty about her being put to sleep. She started to go to the bathroom around the house, on the furniture, bed, etc, about a year ago. We eventually moved her litter box into our tv room so we could shut the doors to all of the other rooms. Her last visit to the vet she had hyperthyroidism which we gave her medicine. Just in the last two weeks she stopped eating all her food and would yowl during the night. She still was able to move around and seemed ok mentally. In the last year, I would get so upset and yell at her for using the house as her litter box and basically altering our lifestyles. We have not had company in over a year. My wife was very compassionate and understanding to our cat, I was the jerk. Now that our cat is gone, I realize that I was just awful to our cat in her final year. I never dealt with this before and it was easier to just get mad and yell at her. I now realize that she just wanted to be loved without conditions and I could not see that. I have cried now for three days. My heart is broke and our house feels empty. I thought I was a tough, mature 40 something year old. I guess what I am trying to say is that I loved my cat with all my heart but didn’t know how to cope with her issues. Anger is not the solution. Please love your pets everyday and show them compassion. They love you without conditions so love them back. I learned a valuable and painful lesson in being a pet owner and I vow to never let that happen again. Thank you all for your stories and allowing me to share mine. I LOVE YOU SMOKEE, you will be missed!!!

  • vikki

    im still heartbroken after loosing by faithful dog jenny 5 years ago she was a rescue dog and my absolute world,we picked her from a dogs home she had been beaten starved and the finaly set on fire by her previouse owners it was love at fist site,however after 6 years she had a fit a week before xmas 2005 medication helped but on the 29 may 2006 my world fell apart she had a mild fit so i took the kids to school and dreaded what i would find when i got back home,suprizingly she ran across the floor with her silly dog smile,she then climbed onto her chair and had the biggest fit id ever seen i knew then it was the end we rushed her to the vets and she stayed in overnight,but the following morning we had the dreaded phone call she was finaly at peace ,we found out the previouse owners had beaten her so bad she had a problem with her brain,i had her cremated she sits by the bed the pain doesnt go away but i know she had a fab life with us i just wish i had more time with her. miss u every jen and always will xxx

  • Mrs Bird

    I know how you all feel. I had to put down Prince friday night. After 13 years of loving the best little schnauzer in the world. He had a tumer on his right ear that bursted and wouldnt stop bleeding, I knew wouldnt make it thru surgery. I miss him so much it hurts. Love you my little buddy we will never forget you.

  • patt gehring

    Hello Patti,I feel so sad for you, and will probably have the same feelings, but I want you to realize that your precious cat was doing what he wanted to do, and being where he or she wanted to be. That sounds so void and empty of feelings, but I am speaking from experience. I have a dog who I will lose soon that I have loved for 10yrs.6months.I want you try and remember your cat when he was playing, being cute and cuddly.That will take time, but it will come.Mourning is very healthy. I will not go into any details, but a Chaplin from the Viet Nam war explained to me about horrific deaths. He explained to me that death is death no matter how horrible,we all die the same, so your little kitty died that way.We all are so attached to our pets they love us without conditions.your cat was loved by you and would not want you to suffer. Please take care.Patt

  • phillip

    Today, I had to put to sleep my beloved Ms. Blackie. I got her when I graduated from the University of Michigan in 1988. She was 23 years old. Unfortunately, for the past 4 years, she developed feline dementia, along with several health issues. Her world shrank to the den, where she felt the most secure, and where my lap was located, usually watching the t.v.

    Words cannot express how empty the house is without her. I had the luck of having her as my pet for 1/2 of my 46 years on this planet. When I got home and went upstairs to the den, I could have almost sworn I heard her familiar meow, but know that it was all in my head. I miss her more than words can say. She was my best friend in the world.

    I know in time I will adopt a new friend, but for now, I just want to try and get pass Ms. B.’s death. She was part of my life for so long, that I just can’t imagine life without her. My heart goes out to all who go through this. Believe me, if you ever want to see what makes a 6’4 man cry, take away his friend of 23 years. Hell, I didn’t know I could even GET this upset.

    Thanks for the outlet to express my feelings.

  • Kelly

    So this is just an update on my cats, Roo’s blood results, I spoke to the vet the other day. He said, that the results came though as that Roo didn’t have toxoplasmosis, but he said there was still a chance she did, she just didnt have enough antibodies in her blood, for it to show up. But then I started thinking did I do the wrong thing, having her put to sleep, but the vet did reassure me, that I did do the right thing, as she would of only of kept getting worse, there was no improvement in her health at all. He suggested perhaps having another cat after Christmas, which we might do, not sure yet, we dont want to feel like were just replacing her. Nor do we want to go through this horrible experience ever again, so im still in to minds. But he thinks after Christmas would be a good idea, because he thinks, we could give another kitten/cat a brilliant home. So we will have to just see. I miss and love you every day my little Roo Roo <3 xxx

  • teecee

    My heart is breaking. My baby boy of almost nine years had to be euthanized on the 8.12.11. He had been sick for many weeks and just wasn’t getting any better. He had always up until recently been a healthy, happy, active cat. But out of the blue he started showing signs of illness – lethargy, lack of appetite, weight loss, etc. After taking him to the vets test results showed that he had a massive infection somewhere in his body. They couldn’t pinpoint exactly where the infection was. They kept him at the surgery for two days and gave him antibiotics (his second lot) and monitored his situation. He didn’t get better. I brought him home and hoped for the best. He became even thinner and developed large sores on his back. He barely ate so I resorted to giving him pureed baby food (chicken with veges, etc). I also had to give him water as he wasn’t drinking enough. I also noticed that his left eye was red and the pupil was cloudy (wasn’t due to cataracts). Basically the infection/illness was ravaging his body. I loved him so much that I kept hoping and praying that he would get well. I just didn’t want to think about having him put to sleep. He was the love of my life and letting him go was unbearable. Then a few nights ago he let out a wail, it was awful, he must have been in pain. I knew what I had to do and it broke my heart. I told him all day that I loved him. I kissed him and cuddled him and watched over him. I cried. The next day I called the vets and made an appointment that I never wanted to make. I took my baby to the vets and after much agonising and crying I made the decision. I still don’t know if I did the right thing. I have been crying, soul searching and questioning my decision for the last four days. I miss him so much that it feels like my spirit is slowly dying. I feel like crawling into a corner and never coming out again. The pain is almost unbearable. Every morning I get out of bed and remember that he is gone. I miss him so much. I have been sleeping a lot more than usual (or just laying down) on my bed thinking about him. I can’t believe he is gone. I can’t believe I let him go. But he was so sick and so weak. Seeing him lose so much weight was horrible. I had ALWAYS made sure that he had plenty of food to eat, no matter what. And he always had a big appetite. He was so beautiful. A big, fluffy B&W cat. He had such a beautiful nature too. He was gentle and tolerant and mellow. He was my baby and I will NEVER forget him. I love you baby boy and miss you xxx.

  • Donna

    ‎I am so sorry for all your lost loved little babies it breaks my heart and I have cried through reading every one of your stories of your beloved little ones.

    I hope you don’t mind but I have to cut my story in 2 halves to fit it on this blog but I really needed to tell you my story.

    I lost my sweet little baby girl Pepsi 8 1/2-years-old Dachshund cross Jack Russell.
    I rescued her from a pet shop she was so thin small and frail and sick my mom diffident even think she would see her first birthday but I just loved her I took her to work with me every day for the first 3 months and she pulled through.

    She had such a kind heart and she was so clever she knew so much its like she was a human, we spent every possible moment together I shared every meal with her she slept on our bed we walked every day, I loved bathing and brushing her, she was always so happy she wagged her tail all the time its like she was so grateful for life she was my little shadow the best friend I’ve ever had my baby I miss her so much its unbearable.

    The worst part is I watched her die as my husband and I where going to take her for a walk she ran out the garage it happened right out side my own house she ran off to smell a bush I saw the car coming and called to her to come it was not even going fast she was such an obedient dog she just hesitated for a second but the timing was so bad, she stepped right in-front of the Large vehicle I could not believe my eyes as to what was happening one second my sweet baby was coming to me with the sweetest look on her face as she loved her walkies. and the next second the car wheels went over her she was crushed her head was crushed and there where pools of blood my husband knew she was gone but you know you believe against all odds its cant be true and it will be ok, we rushed her to the vet but she had already she passed away it was so sudden my heart felt like it had been ripped and crushed in to a million pieces like life no longer had meaning, she only had half her life and I was to blame for it ending I was supposed to protect her.
    It’s so empty and lonely without her and sometimes I think I hear her it’s so heartbreaking I cry all the time, I Loved her with all I had to Love.

    What I can advise if you have the money is to see a psychologist as I am doing so the trauma for me is just too much for me to bear, they can really help you see things in a more positive light even when it seems like there is only blackness and emptiness.

    Something the psychologist said to me has helped me cope a little, she said it is better to have true moments of Joy and happiness with something you really Love even if it’s not as long as you had hoped or it turned out so tragically.
    than to never have Loved so deeply or felt such happiness and Joy at all.
    They are a gift sent to us to let us know how much we truly are able to Love.
    D.

  • Kim Schubert

    I had to put my cat Angel to sleep last sunday.It was the worst day ever.We had her for 12 wonderful years.I feel so lost without her.I am really feeling depressed and don’t
    know how to deal with all the emotions.She used to come to the door when I left for
    work in the morning and want me to pet her.She was just so special to me,but I know
    she is not in pain anymore, I am,though.

    Kim Schubert

  • Kelly

    Yesterday I had to have my cat put to sleep, I feel very sad, I’ve been crying a lot and feeling guilty.
    I got her when she was about 8 weeks old, we now know she was born with Toxoplasmosis. When Roo came ill about two and a half weeks ago, we took her to the vets straight away, at this point, it was already to late, she had lost her eye sight and had an inflammation on her left eye,and a very high temp. The vet was very unsure at first what could of caused this so quick because she was so young, only 18 months. We got medication, and was hoping that she would start getting better, all she did was sleep, she didn’t eat or drink much, a few days later we took her back again there had been an improvement in the eye inflammation,but her walking had gone wobbly like she was drunk, and occasionally her back legs would just go. she had two blood test, one tested for feline leukemia and kidney disease, the other for toxoplasmosis. the first test came back all clear, and I really thought she was going to be okay. Over the next few days she got a lot worse and she couldn’t move, use the toilet, her eye sight was no better so we took her to the vets before the toxoplasmosis results came back, I forgot to mention that once the first blood reults came back the vet was 95% sure it was toxoplasmosis, so we started to use medication. If was to late for the medication to work, the disease had done to much damage and she would keep getting worse daily. So we decided to have her put to sleep, the vet agreed that that was the best decision to stop her suffering. I took her home with us.
    The only problem is now, I feel like someone as ripped my heart out, like there is an empty space inside of me, I’m feeling guilt, because if I had caught it earlier, I might of prevented this all happening. I keep thinking did I give up on her to early. I think what also makes it worse for me, is that I think I could just about cope if she was an older cat, but it makes me feel worse knowing she was only 18months old, she had her whole life a head of her, If you know what I mean. Also I have a 19month old daughter, I was told she would just forget about Roo, but today she was walking around looking for Roo, shouting ‘Roo Roo’ I just don’t know what to say to her. 🙁 wish thing would just start getting easier.

  • Myriam

    Hi All,
    I am sill crying five weeks since I had to put my beautiful black cat to sleep. I loved him more than anything else. I cannot articulate how I feel. He will be in my heart forever.

  • Melissa

    Hi,

    This page has been THE only one I found that has encouraged me to even write about my experience. I sit and cry all day and think of my little Peanut. He was 13 years old this past August when out of nowhere he had a bunch of seizure clusters one weekend. We took him to the vet, then to a hospital and they believed he had a brain tumor, which was causing the seizures. I opted not to have an MRI because at his age, they told me he may not withstand the sedation and that even if it was confirmed, they wouldn’t recommend surgery. I insisted on taking him home and caring for him with medication and to my (and their) surprise (which after reading online about seizures, I’m not sure why they seem to know so little about them), Peanut recovered and was the healthy 13 year old he had once been. He definitely seemed more tired than he use to be and didn’t bark quite as much but no seizures for 3 months! The vet was very concerned about his liver panel tests and thought he also had Cushings (again, not confirmed because according to the vet, he would not be able to tolerate the meds for Cushings even if they confirmed it) so we lowered his prednisone. It was explained to us that the medication to treat and control the seizures would eventually cause liver disease so it was a matter of which poison to choose. Out of nowhere this past weekend, he started taking seizures again and we did what we could to comfort him. They were in clusters but seemed to be getting less severe, we gave valium rectally, etc. Monday night we took him to the vet, they didn’t tell us to increase the meds (the vet seemed ridiculously concerned about the liver tests), I asked for more valium and they didn’t have the same stuff that the hospital had so I said I would get more at the hospital (not thinking of what was to come). The only suggestion after my persistance was to start him on the Bromine, which they also didn’t have so we ordered it. Then Tuesday I was at work and my husband called to say he took a bad seizure and even with the rectum valium he was not coming out of it. My 5 year old was there and I had our only car at work. Normally I would not have the car and I would be out of work early on that particular day so I left work shortly after, thinking my husband was maybe exagerrating and that Peanut was just in the post-ictal phase of the seizure, which can last many hours. My husband anticipated that we would have to euthanize him and we needed a sitter to bring him to the animal hospital because we did not want our young child witnessing such a tragic loss. Our sitter did not come for at least 2 hours while we sat with our dog and hugged him as he shook, laid in agony and lost control of his bowels, etc. We bathed him so that he would not sit ashamed as he seemed to be after he had lost control. It seemed like that was the only thing the poor little guy was aware of. We drove to the hospital and they took him right away. We waited and kept peeking in at Peanut until the doctor came in to say that she thought he suffered brain damage and that the only thing they could do is put him on a valium drip overnight but that there was no way to know if that would help him at all because there appeared to be brain damage. I asked if we had gotten him there sooner if they could have done something and she said she didn’t think it would have made much difference, although I’m sure she said that for my sake more than reality because I could barely contain my emotions as it was. She brought Peanut into us and said she would leave us to make a decision…a decision of what I still do not know because they appeared to have already made it. So I hugged him and cried hysterically and my husband was afraid if we left him overnight that he may die by himself in the hospital. We made the worst decision in our lives to euthanize and kill our dog. I’m crying just writing this because I feel such guilt and regret for it all. My husband had suggested we ask them to do the valium for a couple of hours and we would go get a coffee and come back but I didn’t want to do that. I think I was so caught up in the emotion and crying (which I’m usually in complete control) that I let him down. The vet had said they usually do the drip for 24 hours so I don’t know if a couple of hours would have helped but I feel like on every level I have let him down. I had the car on a day I normally wouldn’t, I was at work later than I would have been, I had chosen to wait to buy more valium so maybe the extra dose could have taken him out of the seizure. I also should have increased his prednisone on my own and I can’t for the life of me figure out why I didn’t because I usually take things into my own hands. In addition to feeling guilty, I have such anger toward the vets- both of them. The regular vet we go to who I want to call and say “how is his liver now” because that seemed to be all she either learned about in school or cared about and to the vet at the hospital who didn’t try anything to help him. I know I can’t blame everyone but I just feel so bad. I held my little guy in my arms as they sedated him and felt his heart take its last beat. It’s been 1.5 days and I can’t stop crying. I look at his leash and I cry, I look outside in the yard and I cry. Everything reminds me of him and my poor son just keeps saying “you can give me hugs instead of Peanut” because he desperately is trying to take my sadness away and so I feel guilty about that even. Thank you for having this site and allowing me to spill my emotions. I actually feel somewhat better after writing this. Thank you

  • kevin lapage

    laurie,thankyou for your kind words,tanya and i are devistated and lonely ,our house just isnt the same,time seems to go by so slowly now ,we pledged to never bring another pet in our lives but that lasted about 6 days,it is not like us to not love or not be loved by another pet,healer is the name of our new companion and we believe hanky would have wanted it this way,though it has not been very long since hank has been gone we believe this is our way of healing and to honor hank with all that he taught us,it is unbelievable just what everything the little guy had done for us,hank gave and recieved more love in 5 1/2 years than i could give in my lifetime,thanks again your pet loving freinds from nebraska

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Dear Kevin,

    I am so sorry to hear how you’re coping with grief and guilty after euthanizing your beloved dog…it is so heartbreaking. He was young, and it happened so fast. It’s just so difficult to deal with.

    Healing after pet loss is different for everyone, especially when we feel guilty for not acting sooner. I think it’s normal to go through a period of mourning – and some people have more extreme grief reactions to their pet’s death than others. There is no set number of days that you’ll need to heal…but if you don’t start to recover after a week, you might want to seek professional help.

    Sometimes our pet’s death uncovers other, older feelings of sadness, anger, or disappointment that haven’t healed. If this is the case, then it’s good to get help untangling the emotions.

    Let yourself grieve. If your feelings are just as painful and intense in a week or so, then think about a grief support group or counselor.

    Some cities and communities have pet loss support groups – and of course there are always online ones! It is really helpful to share your story of heartbreak with others, and let their stories heal you.

    I hope this helps, and wish you all the best. Let me know how you’re doing.

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  • kevin lapage

    we just lost our very overly loved “hanky” ,hank was 5 1/2 yearold doxie and did everything with us,i wish i would have taken him a day earlier to the vet,his condition was grave,we didnt even say goodbye to him before the euthinisation, we could not hold the emotions back of the thought of losing him and figured he would react to it,now my guilt,anger basically all emotions have run rampant, the surgeon emailed us trying to comfort us that the decision we made was the correct on which was very nice but are haunted by this ,trying to recover from this has been the hardest task ,i feel horrible,cant work,concentate,cry uncontrollably,this dog was our world. is professional help needed? lost in nebraska

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Dear Shannon,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your dog Kettle, but am glad to know she is no longer in pain. She’s probably being an even bigger, happier, more lovable goofball in doggy heaven!

    Here’s an article about animals mourning – there may be some useful tips for your other dog, Kodak:

    How to Help Your Dog or Cat After Their Best Friend Dies

    I hope the article helps, and wish you all the best.

    Blessings and sympathies,
    Laurie

  • Shannon

    I rescued Kettle from a puppy mill when she was 8yrs old. Even got her spayed at age 8. She has been the biggest, lovable, goofball I have ever had. No one ever worked with her when she was little but she knew when feeding time and medicine time was. A week ago she was diagnosed with synovial cell sarcoma and in June it was discovered she had 4 spurs on her spine. She started with a limp; however, Tuesday night she couldn’t sleep at all. She was restless, in pain, couldn’t climb the simple stairs to the porch and couldn’t put her foot down. Wed I drove her to work to say goodbye to her friends, took her to the groomer for a bath, took her to McDonalds for nuggets and later that afternoon to the vet to be euthanized. She just turned 11 last week. Her canine friend Kodak, who is 10, is grieving immensely. What can I do to help her? Kodak has had cancer for 7 yrs and I never thought Kettle would die first. Heartbroken over our loss and my baby Kodak’s grief.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear April,

    I just want to say I’m sorry you lost your cat, and I hope you don’t feel so guilty over her death.

    Thanks for sharing your story here — I hope it helped you. I know it helps other pet owners deal with their own guilt, to see they’re not alone.

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  • Kathleen

    Thanks Laurie for your thoughtful words. Time will heal and honoring kitty in my heart will help. Taking care of my other cat princess and giving her lots of love. She’s 18 and has kidney problems, but is doing well with herbal medicine and seems to be happy.

    Peace & Light

  • April

    Michael,
    I just read your post and it really touched me. I lost my cat (a grey tabby) of 16 years, Echo, last night. She also had kidney failure, like your cat. Also, like your cat, she seemed fine (although she’s been diabetic for 4.5 years, so we’ve been treating that, as best we could), but I did notice she was losing some weight, even though she was eating a lot. We went away for the weekend and when we got home, she was lethargic and could barely walk around. She meowed a couple of times when we walked in the door, but it was very faint and forced. We took her to the emergency vet and discovered she had kidney failure and was in ketoacidosis. 🙁 This was what I was afraid of, because I have had friends with diabetic cats before and once there is kidney failure it’s an uphill battle. We decided to end her suffering…but I am having a really hard time with this. I know that the kidney damage was already done and it wasn’t just us leaving for the weekend. Like you, it’s been a busy time of year, with family to visit for the holidays, shopping, etc. I tried to give her as much love and have tried for 5 years to treat her diabetes as best I could…but sometimes I just couldn’t afford another glucose curve, or could only afford the curve and not the kidney function tests. I am beating myself up today over the things I didn’t do, and just hope that she wasn’t in too much pain for very long. I know that with a diabetic cat, 4-5 years is a lot of extra life, I just miss her so much and wish I could go back a few months and get that extra curve done, or would’ve taken her in sooner to have her weight loss checked out. 🙁 She always seemed okay though…she purred, slept near me, had energy, was eating and drinking normally, and wasn’t any different. 🙁 I’m mostly feeling guilty for leaving her alone this weekend…I usually try to have a friend stop in and give her shots, but I felt bad for doing it so many times, and thought for just a couple of days it would be okay…it always has been before. But I know how picky Echo was with water lately…it had to be clean and cold or she didn’t want to drink it. Who leaves a diabetic cat with water that she won’t drink? The vet said that I didn’t do anything that caused the kidney failure, but I can’t help feeling that by leaving her alone, she probably didn’t drink, which made her dehydrated, and caused the failure to flare up sooner than it might have. I guess I know in my heart that this guilt isn’t doing me any good…my little girl would’ve passed most likely soon anyway, and it’s better that I ended her suffering before it got any worse. It’s just really, really hard. She was so soft and sweet and she loved everyone, and everyone loved her, even people who didn’t like cats. She had the cutest meow…she sounded like a smoker…it was sort of raspy. 🙂 And this last summer, she had taken to enjoying the patio in our back yard. She would come out and lay in the sun while we grilled or played with our dog. She usually didn’t like it outside, but she liked our back patio. She was so cute…even at 16, she still looked like a kitten. I don’t know why, but it was like her face never aged beyond the age of 6 months. 🙂 I miss her kneading my legs as she got comfy in my lap, and I miss her soft little purr next to me while we both fell asleep. 🙁
    Anyway, here I go rambling…such a hard day.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Dear Kathleen,

    I’m so sorry to hear that you lost your cat Mushy, and that you feel guilt over his death. That’s so heartbreaking…and I wish I knew what to say to help you cope with your grief and sadness.

    My condolences,
    Laurie

  • Kathleen

    Dearest Animal Lovers,
    I’m feeling heartbroken today as I mourn my loving cat Mushy.
    He had a seizure Saturday night and I brought him to an animal hospital for observation. Sunday morning he had another seizure and they put him on valium and other meds. The doctor said he wanted to keep him another night and monitor his progress. He passed on Monday.
    He was 15 and a healthy cat that had no signs of medical issues.
    I brought him to the doctor twice a year and gave him all the love I have. I went to visit him Sunday afternoon and stayed with him for 1/2 hour and told him I loved him and gave him massage, spoke softly to him and told him I would see him tomorrow. He recognized my voice and seemed to be Ok. I don’t know what happened. The blood work came back normal and doctor said that his blood pressure was a little high and most likely he had a blood clot to the brain.
    I wish i could’ve been there when he passed and he wasn’t alone and scared.
    I know life is temporary but it still hurts. I’m sending love to the stars for all.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Michael,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your cat’s death, but I’m glad you’re trying to honor her. She sounds like an amazing cat, and I’m happy to keep her alive in spirit here!

    The best way to keep her memory and spirit alive is to keep remembering her with love and warm memories — not guilt or lack of forgiveness for your decisions or actions.

    You did the best you could when she was alive — you did everything you could to prolong her life and keep her as healthy and happy as possible.

    She knew how much you love her. I don’t think cats experience time the same way we do. I don’t think they can distinguish from one week to the next, which means I don’t think she would’ve noticed that you didn’t cuddle or love her up in that last week.

    Her life was 17 years of hugs, songs, cuddles, and warm naps with you around! The last week is nothing, compared to her life of love. She knew how much you cared for her, and nothing can change that. Not even the last week…..and not even her death.

    I hope you keep remembering her with pure love and joy, and keep her memory alive by telling all your other beloved pets about her. 🙂

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  • Michael

    Thank you for the kind words. Me and my wife actually have 3 cats (was 4) and a dog, all rescue. Our Dog (Wondermutt) is 13, Oz is 3 , Spike is 2 almost 3 (yes both named after buffy the show) and Takako is 12. Taki was with BG her whole life, but I think in the way cats do things, BG let them know. I wish she had let us know, but that is the way BG is. Me and my wife really feel that when we (especially me) werent around, she rested and felt her pain, and then rallied when we were around, not only so we didnt worry, but so she could be with us as much as possible. Im not sure if Cats can make that kind of intuitive leap, but it sure feels that way to me now. It still hurts, and we still cry. Being in a studio apartment no matter where we are or what we are doing we feel the loss,looking at our printer without her sleeping on it seems so odd. But the thoughts that come into my head are less and less that day at the vet, and more and more her getting between me and my computer, yelling at me if I wasnt paying enough attention to her and waiting for me to roll over into the fetal position when I slept to crawl under the covers and sleep between my knees and my chest. I love that cat and I know from time to time I will get teary eyed, but I realized that cat spent her whole life trying to make people happy, and she would never want to be the object of any kind of sadness. I try to honor her by continuing to live my life, and taking care of our other three cats, since she isnt here to do it anymore. Our only hope is Taki learned as much as she could from BG and will soon take the reigns. When that happens our house will become a 4 cat household again, we already decided its the right thing to do since we have the money and so many cats need a home. I want to try and find another calico with her personality. I will never name another cat BG, and noone can take her place but I know somewhere out there is a runt in a litter people think wont live past 2 weeks looking to give me 17 good years.

  • gailsnow

    OH, you are so not alone in this. You do not need help, as time, and ONLY time, will help you,unfortunately. It is painful as I know, but all you can do is cry to get the “ya ya’s” out and deal with it…..no,you did not “ramble on”, you got yr feelings out which you need to do. There is a site which is a chatline for people who have lost their pets……www.petloss.com I found it very helpful. If it seems too busy, just get in there and babble on, someone will see you are hurting and will help you…..it helped me. this is the place for you now, take a look. in the meantime,you greatly took care of an animal that was on this earth,and this cat deserved you…I hope in time another cat will be so lucky to have you.

  • Michael

    Yesterday my 17 year old cat had to be put to sleep due to kidney failure. She was my wifes cat for all 17 of those years, and I hadnt had a cat before my wife moved in with her, and her sister.

    Her name was BG, short for baby grey, but I used to call her “Beege” still cant remember how that started, but it did, and it stuck. My wife and friends even started calling her that, and I think we had people in our lives who didnt even know her real name and thought it was Beege.

    Despite her age, this cat was amazing. She acted like a kitten, ran around like one, and loved like one. From the second I brought her into my home she was mine, and vice versa. She followed me everywhere, yelled at the door when I left and slept next to me on the couch whenever me and my wife watched TV. She would curl up with me under the covers, I simply loved her.

    As her age started to show her vet visits became a little more regular, and at one a little while ago the vet told us the levels in her kidneys werent good. We did what we could, switched to a special diet, vitamins, what we could. The vet told us we were buying time, but that it was ok. A few weeks ago we were tasked with giving her IV fluids. This was our choice, the vet said at her levels people didnt usually start this treatment, but if we did it would help her alot. BG wasnt one for being held down, shaved, bathed, needled, really anything a human ever does to or for a cat aside from being fed. If she had to go to the bathroom but couldnt get to it, if you lifted her into the litter she would step out, stare at you until you left and then get in it herself. Needless to say, she didnt take to the IV well. Me and my wife were supposed to do it every 2-3 days, but she wrestled so much and got away so much some of the treatments required me re-entering the needle 5+ times, and I was hurting her and I didnt like it. We decided that we would do it on a case by case basis. If we saw her drinking alot, or kind of lethargic,we would IV her. I mean, the cat was healthier then could be, and the vet said it was optional at this stage, so we treated it as such. I mean, why extend her life if only do so something she hated so often.

    Well, like a bat out of heck, her quality of life dropped. Over two days she lost over a fifth of her body weight (she only weighed 5 lbs to begin with, she was the runt, but she was our runt)she wouldnt eat drink or go to the litter. At first we thought she hurt her hip because of how she walked when she wasnt declining walking. So we put her to bed rest, put a pee pad down next to her, with food and water to minimize her movement. We let her be because every time we did something to help her like feed her or bring her to her litter, she seemed mad, so we figured like a human with an injury she wanted rest and to be left alone. So we did, for a little over a day. We then realized how bad it was getting, and what was coming became clear. She didnt purr when I held her, didnt recognize getting pet. It was bad. She peed on me while sitting on my lap, and that just isnt her. So we brought her knowing what was going to happen.

    The days leading up to her passing were very busy. My wifes birthday always floats around Thanksgiving, and we always throw her a party. Thanksgiving had just happened, and I work in retail so the week was bad, I probably worked 60 hours or so. Then black friday, and on saturday our nephew turned 2 and our uncle on the other side turned 80, and we were gone all day at parties, then her party, and we went out the day after that. It was when our friends finally cleared out we noticed her hip (which turned out to just be loss of muscle and the inability to support herself).

    There are a few things I just cant forgive myself for. Obviously the IV, the vet said it wouldnt have done anything for her, with that abrupt drop in her health, nothing would have saved her. He said we did everything we could as long as we were bringing her to him, and we shouldnt feel like it was our fault. But I do. I cant stop wondering if I had buckled down and just forced the IV every other day and sucked it up would she have lived another year or so, or would her last days have been better?

    Did i screw up by letting her linger? Had I not dismissed it was a hip injury would we have let her go sooner, and eased her suffering? Maybe our last memories wouldnt have been of our cat who was totally gone mentally, but of our beloved crazy BG.

    Did our neglect that week lead to her death? This is the big one. I know we treat our pets like gold. I wont right a book about it, but that is not something I feel guilt over. We love them, and they know it, end of story.
    I was out so much for work, as was my wife. Between the holiday and her birthday, we didnt see her much, and she slept alone alot (we have 3 other cats, so not totally alone) and when I was home I was either cooking, sleeping, or other chores.

    Is it possible she thought we gave up on her? Everyday I came home I picked her up and spent time with her, I really did love that cat. But the week leading to her passing, I cant remember if I did or not. I cant remember the last time she sat with me on the couch, or slept on my chest or stood between me and my computer and demanded time. I used to sing to her all the time, and I just cant remember if I did that week. We spent so much time with our friends and family that I dont remember seeing her. And then BOOM, she was gone. To us it seemed out of nowhere, she really showed no signs prior to those two days. Did she think we gave up on her? Or was it just her time? I also had a bunch of stuff on my desk that isnt usually there, and she made a bad jump and fell off the side. And I cant stop thinking that if I didnt leave it there, and she didnt fall, maybe she would be ok. Maybe her hip injury was to much for her and she gave up.

    Yesterday I rushed home from work, I left early so my wife didnt have to go alone ( at this point we were still half hopeful it was a hip injury and an extended hospital visit would fix her up new) to the vet. My wife said all day she stayed in the same spot (she slept by my head the night before, something she hasnt done in a while, and I didnt even put her there, she went there herself) and wouldnt let my wife touch her. I thought it was weird because the night before and the morning when I left for work she seemed totally fine, I was really hopeful she was recovering and pulling through. Then i realized, she was mustering strength whenever i wasnt around so she could be “normal” when i was. Either to be with me, or to spare me the pain i felt seeing her like that. Cats are so intuitive, you cant ever know. She wouldnt let my wife touch her, but I picked her up and she nestled into my arms, but wouldnt look at me. She didnt enjoy getting pet, she just laid there. And she wasnt purring, not even for me. Right then I knew, in fact I hope she was just going to die right there in my arms, and get spared a cold vets table. I think the fighting spirit that got her to 17 just wouldnt allow her to just go. We got her cat carry, and she walked right into it, looked at us one last time and laid down, almost relieved. To give some perspective, in the past getting that cat into a carrier was difficult. She had this way of hooking her back legs on the outside so you couldnt get her in, she would claw back pedal and squirm. If we had an appointment at 4, we would start getting her in the carrier at 3, and the vet is only 10 minutes away. When she walked into that carrier, we knew, and it blew us away. We got her there, and everyone knew, the Vets bedside manner was amazing and he walked us through it. She just laid there, I dont even think she knew we were there, or she was even there.

    It killed me, I felt like I didnt get to say goodbye. The vet told us with the kidneys failing, her body was poisoning itself and it was probably causing her to hallucinate. I wanted so badly to detox her so I could say goodbye, but it felt to selfish, because the hallucinating was probably stopping her pain.

    I just wish I knew what her last real memory of us was. I just hope to God it wasnt sitting upstairs asleep alone while me and my wife were out to dinner.

    I know we did the right thing in putting her to sleep. With every step we took it became more clear. She didnt fight the vet at all, not for the shaving, the alcohol rub, or the needle. The BG i know doesnt let anyone do anything to her, she chooses everything she does. So I knew. I held her while they did it, and put my hand on her chest and felt her heartbeat stop. I saw her die. I wrapped her up brought her home, dug a hole and buried her under a lilac tree in her favorite blanket.

    But all I can remember is that crazed slipping look in her eye. The last time I remember holding her is when she was already dead, and I cant stop thinking about her laying there cold and in the ground. Its november, and I actually found myself feeling guilty because it was cold outside, and she was out there.

    Was staying with her while she passed the wrong thing? Was burying her myself wrong, or was it the perfect way to honor the one I loved so much?

    I feel like I cant remember her the right way, all i can conjure is her dying, and me burying her. And its killing me. I miss her so much, and when I came home today and she wasnt there, I lost it. saying hi to her took precedent over everything when i walk in the door, and I dont know what to do when I come home now. I sat on the couch last night, the last place I held her before I left, and I just couldnt sit there. My wife woke up last night after dreaming about her, and forgot she had died for just a split second, and had to relive everything all over again.

    I havent slept or eaten in like two days, because when I try its all I think about. Im not sure what to do, or how to stop this, will it pass? Or should I actually consider seeing someone? Ive never been this devastated over a death before, not even a human one. I know that sounds horrible, but its true.

    At this point, we are second guessing everything we do. Even the fourth cat we adopted who we love, but is kind of a bully and didnt make this last year any easier on her.

    Is this grief normal? Or should we get help of some kind? ive rambled long enough so ill just stop now. I apologize for the length of this, but thank you for providing people with a place to do this

  • Helen

    My lovely cat Cleopatra Scamperelli had to be put to sleep last week- she was 22 years old and until August fit and happy.
    I know she was an old lady but I really miss her and feel guilty.
    Why did I not notice sooner she was going down hill- would she have got better if I had taken her to the vet sooner?- I know the answer is no but it does not help me feel better.
    I miss her so much and the house is empty without her heartbeat.
    I have planted snowdrops on her grave in the garden where the sun comes up first thing in the morning and where she used to sit in the sun and watch the birds.
    I miss you Scampi- we wont forget you.

  • Silvia

    My sweet 11 year old beagle died one week ago. She had a tumor rupture on her liver. We did surgery and they suspected liver cancer. I decided to have them go ahead and remove the liver masses (after all she had been a happy and healthy dog prior to this) and then we’d enjoy whatever time remained of her life. Unfortunately, after a week of holding out hope that she’d make a recovery, it became clear that it wasn’t going to happen and we had her put to sleep with my husband and I lovingly holding her as she passed. We found out later (when the report finally came in) that she had the “bad” liver cancer and there was nothing more they could have done. They think her recovery didn’t go well because the cancer was further along than they had initially thought. I feel such horrible guilt now. I put her through surgery and the pain of recovery for nothing. I also remember back in July I’d taken her in for a dental cleaning and they had mentioned that her liver enzymes were high. I’d asked what that meant and they’d said that would require a separate follow up appointment. I forgot about it. What caring owner does that?!! If I’d taken her in maybe we’d have caught it early enough and she’d still be here. I also feel bad for not feeding her an organic diet until late in her life, and I so regret not giving her more time and attention as I wish I had. Any thoughts would be appreciated as I feel quite awful and miss her so much. Thank you.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Patti,

    I’m so sorry to hear about Oscar — at least it happened fast. Poor kitty, he probably never knew what hit him 🙁

    It takes time to get horrible images like that out of your head. It also takes self-discipline, and a bit of psychology. Psychologists say, “What you resist, persists.” So, the more you try to get the image of Oscar out of your head, the more it’ll remain.

    Instead of trying not to remember what you saw, try replacing that image with the Oscar you knew and loved. Keep a photo handy, or a series of images in your head of Oscar playing, sleeping, eating, and cuddling with you. Whenever you think of the horrible image, just start thinking of your good memories of Oscar.

    I know how hard it is — getting over the guilt and heartache of pet loss is a long, sad process.

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  • patti z

    Hello,

    My little Oscar kitty was hit by a car yesterday and apparently died instantly. The man who hit him was kind enough to call, my phone was on his collar.

    I feel devistated and wonder why I let him spend so much time outside. My other cats stay inside, but he always wanted to be out. I should have known this would happen!!!!! My kitties are my world and get tons of attention, so I know he knew he was very well loved.
    One of my issues is that my last site of him was from the accident, not to be gross, but the vehicle hit him in the head so it was not pretty. Even today at the funeral home (he’s being cremated) I saw a bit of it again. How do I get this horrible image out of my head so I can remember my sweet little boy?

    Patti

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Karen,

    How are you — and how is your dog Daisy? I’m so sorry to hear how bad you feel that you didn’t catch her lump in time. That’s so sad, so heartbreaking.

    You took her to the vet when you felt the lump, which was the right thing to do! That the vet gave the wrong diagnosis wasn’t your fault, so you have no reason to feel guilty. How could you know that a second opinion was necessary? You trusted your vet.

    To cope with the guilt, keep reminding yourself that you made the best decision you could at the time. You did the best you could with what you knew. If you had known differently, you would have acted differently.

    I know that there’s nothing I can say to make you feel better. I know what it’s like to feel guilty over a pet’s health and death. You’re not alone. I hope you’re doing better these days, and that Daisy has more good days than bad days.

    Best wishes and sympathies,
    Laurie

  • Karen

    My dog Daisy is 11 years old. I brought her to a vet back in March to ask about a lump on her neck. He felt it and said that it was nothing. I accepted his diagnosis. In June after her hair cut I noticed that she lost some weight. She also didn’t seem like herself. But, I assumed that it was the heat, since it was a very hot summer. I brought her back to the vet and he did blood work. The tests came back and she had hypothyroidism. She also started getting diarrhea. He put her on thyroid medication and tried to treat the diarrhea (to no avail). This is when I went to another vet for the diarrhea. (end of August) This second vet immediately felt the lump on her neck and said that it needed to be tested by needle aspiration. It came back as thyroid cancer. The lump was already fixed to the structures of the neck, so it could not be operated on. An xray of Daisy’s chest showed lung metastises.
    She is now home with us. The first few weeks after diagnosis, she seemed like her old self, since she is on the thyroid medication. But, now she has her good days and her bad. Her back limbs are not always strong and her appetite is on and off. Sometimes in the middle of the night she is not feeling well. I give her Metacam to help with her discomfort.

    I am so distraught that I can’t function. I am always crying. If I only got a second opinion back in March the outcome may be different. I really let her down. I am not sure how I am going to cope with this.

  • Kathleen

    So sorry to hear about your loss. You take a chance and sometimes it backfires. I am sure little Oliver knew your heart was in the right place. Bless him! Hope your mother and you can work through the grief.

  • Di

    Today I am gutted. My mother found the sweetest little dog just over two years ago in the middle of her street dying. She took him home, then to a vet, then home again where they shared two wonderful years together. He was a little, white terrier mix who she named Oliver. This little guy was near death when she found him & she nursed him back to health. He came a long way & other than the odd seizure was fairly healthy. Last week his skin turned yellow. The vet said it was jaundice but wasn’t sure what was causing it. He was on medication for seizures which may or may not have been the cause. The vet ran tests and could not find a cause. This worsened over the last few days to the point he wasn’t eating or standing up on his own. However, the whole time he just wanted to snuggle with my mother – the love of his life! Yesterday the vet suggested that they try him on IV. We dropped him off yesterday afternoon, he stared at my mother as we left. This was the last time we would see him. The vet phoned my mother very early this morning & said he died overnight. I feel so guilty that he was alone when he died. We found out yesterday when we brought him to the vet’s that there is no staff person working overnight. However, a decision had to be made & we thought that the IV could possibly help him. This little dog’s only want in life was to be near people – especially his Mom. I worried about him all night, alone at the vets on IV & hoped that if he was dying that it at least happens today with staff and my mother with him. I have never met a dog that had such a big heart and amazing disposition. God Bless You and Love You Forever Little Oliver:(

  • Linda

    On Sept. 4 we lost our beloved bull terrier “Ozzy” to pancreatitis..I feel sooo guilty over his death and I am soo heartbroken… Ozzy had a long history of medical problems which started while he was a pup, he had allergies and the tendency to eat anything and everything. He had surgery to have a serving spoon and an antenna from a remote control car removed along with some of my kids toys and a bunch of silk flowers when he was just a little over a year old. Since then every-time he got sick we would run him to the vet for x-rays to see if it was something he ate. We watched him like a hawk and we were quick to get anything he grabbed out of his mouth before he swallowed it. He also was on steroids for his allergies but that was after we tried every other treatment for allergies with no luck, we decided against allergy shots cuz we did that with our mini bull terrier for years and didn’t want Ozzy to go through that too, besides our mini still ending back on steroids even with the shots. So needless to say, our vet knew Ozzy well and saw him often, whenever we called they always took him right away. In August he started getting sick and throwing up and just didn’t seem like himself so we took him in for x-rays and they did blood-work, his liver numbers were off but because of the steroids it’s difficult to read. He started on antibiotics and stuff to settle his stomach but he still was so sick he lost 13 lbs. We were taking turns sleeping with him so we could keep an eye on him and make him comfortable. I wanted to share some of his history so maybe when I say that sometimes I would think that it would be better if he died then to go thru all this…So that’s what’s killing me I think I wished him dead. He did recover for a few days and started acting like his old self again but in early Sept. he was sick again and when we took him in that’s when they decided it was pancreatitis and started iv’s and pain killers. Ozzy died that night. I MISS him so much and can’t stop crying.. He was only 8 yrs old. My days were filled with Ozzy, he was high maintenance but now my days are so empty (I fill it with guilt and self-loathing) He must have been in so much pain and I didn’t know. I was suppose to take care of him and I didn’t. I can’t believe I thought it would be easier if he was gone because this is killing me. I miss him so much it physically hurts.
    Thank you for listening, Linda

  • Andrea

    I am so ridden with guilt that I have not eaten in days. My 11 year old diabetic cat started having diarrea in June 2010 and I took him to the vet on July 5, 2010 for a check up and due to financial issues I never did extensive blood work, instead I just bought special Vet food to try and treat the diarrea and changed the insullin dosage to twice a day as per the vets instructions. After a week the diarrea was not getting any better so I stopped the special food and went back to giving insullin once a day. My cat was loosing weight rapidly as he has once before but then he was ok. So I did not take him to the vet and on Sept 23, 2010 I found him in the morning on the floor unable to stand up. I then rushed him to the vet and they figured he would die right there on the table and gave me the option to euthanize I said no please do whatever you can (because I just had an increase on my credit care so I knew I could pay for it). So he was put on dextorse IV drip and monitered and given insullin, but they could not stabalize the insullin levels. But in 2 days he was not dehydrated anymore and he was eating and drinking and could stand up wobbly. He only weighed 4.47 lbs he was about 8 lbs back in the middle of August beginning of Sept. He had no body fat reserve so he was very weak and soiling himself daily and he had very high creatine levels, meaning kidney problems. So on Sept 28th the vet told me to take him home and told me to try insullin twice a day and see how he responds, so he was taken off the IV drip that evening and the vet gave him his insullin at 7pm that night I picked him up and when I got him I gave him some diabetic canned meat around 9pm and within 20 minutes he started to have a seizure. I rushed him to an Emergency after hours vet clinic, they gave him diazapam as he would not stop seizuring. I then had to make a decision and I decided to have him put to sleep, which the vet agreed with 100% as he said he would not bounce back and he will have damage from the seizure. That was on Sept 28th today is the 30th and I still have not eaten, I am on the internet all day trying to see what if I took him sooner, I cannot stop crying I am sick to my stomache. I called the vet that he was with for the 5 days and told him what happened, he even said he felt guilty for telling me to take him home. He did say that he knew that my cat would not last long as the prognosis was not good at all, but he thought I would have more time with him maybe a week or a month. He said considering I was giving him insullin for 5 years without any complications that was amazing and that there were many underlying other issues that he more than likely had, but he was at the point where he was too ill and the diabetes was uncontrollable. The bottom line is that if I had extensive blood work done earlier I may have been able to prolong his life and I will never know now. I spent $2000.00 allready and the vet said that at this point he would suffer even more if I kept him alive after the seizure and he would have to be hospitalized for a long time. I making myself sick, I am even thinking of getting copies of all the blood test results so I can examine them with the help of the internet to decide as to if I should have kept him alive. I am single and I do have another cat at home that I rescued from the street in May 2010 and I am also sure that stressed my older cat out as well. I could go on and on with so much negative words…there is no end to the guilt I am feeling, it scares me and I dont know how to think positive or think of the good times with my cat, I just keep looking at pictures and videos I took of him and even in August he looked so good. If I only took him sooner.
    Thank you for reading my lengthy reply!
    Andrea

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Sid,

    Thanks for your comment, and your book information. I love what you said about our pets’ spirits being alive to us even after they’re gone. That helps with letting go of guilt.

  • Sid Korpi

    I am an animal chaplain who works with people to help them prepare for, cope with and move on after pet loss. I frequently have to address the issue of guilt regarding a pet’s euthanasia or other kinds of death. One thing I try to remind folks is that our animals have a much, much better relationship with death than we humans do. They live in the moment and see death as simply a transition, and often one that releases them from a body that is suffering or no longer serves them. Aside from any fear or pain they might undergo, once they have passed over, they are always fine once again. They do not bear grudges, nor would they want their beloved human to feel guilt on their behalf. Their spirits still surround us and pick up on what we’re going through, so making an effort to infuse our sorrow with happy memories when we can is important. In my book, “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” people the world over shared stories of the human-animal bond and of shared afterlife experiences with these pets as they seek to reassure us that they’re OK once they’ve died. They’re not physically with us, which is indeed a palpable loss to us, but their spirits remain vibrantly alive if we’re open to perceiving the signs they send.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Tracey,

    I’m so sorry to hear that you lost your beloved cat. I wish I had the right words to ease your heartache and guilt for euthanizing Rascal.

    Remember that feeling guilty is for people who have done wrong or bad things. You didn’t do anything wrong, and you didn’t deliberately hurt your cat! You made the best choice possible, given the circumstances. Putting him through the pain of chemotherapy, just for 2 months of life, doesn’t seem to me to be a great way to live — for you or him.

    You made the best decision you could. It’s done. You did the right thing — you acted out of love and compassion. Keep telling yourself that, my friend. You didn’t do anything wrong…and though you miss your beloved Rascal more than you ever thought possible, it wasn’t your fault. Please don’t forget that.

    Time will help you heal. Let yourself mourn — but don’t let yourself wallow in guilt. Putting him down was your final act of love for him — you saved him from pain and suffering.

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  • Tracey

    I lost my cat yesterday. I can’t believe it. Rascal was my very first pet, actually he was my child. I adopted him from the shelter that I worked at when he was 6 weeks old. I found him outside the gate in a cardboard box with no food or water. It had snowed the night before and I never would have found him if they had not placed him in front of the gates. I fell in love with him instantly. I spent 11 wonderful years with him. In that time, I got married and had a son (who is now 1). Rascal was a very big part of our lives. A little over a year ago when I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with my son, Rascal began having seizures. I took him to four different vets before deciding to drive him 52 miles to the vet that my parents recommended. He was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. The vet said that he was surprised that Rascal was still alive. His heart rate was so fast that he was “borderline cardiac arrest”. I was devastated. They quickly administered medication in hopes that they could control it. The vet miraculously pulled him through it. Rascal had to take medication every day for the rest of his life to control it but he was healthy, happy, and enjoying a new little baby “brother” at home. Yesterday, I took him back to the vet for a check-up. CA law required Rascal to be seen every year in order for me to be able to get his medication. They did a full blood panel, CBC, and checked his thyroid and kidney functions. The vet called me and was ecstatic to report that Rascal’s bloodwork came back excellent. They were just waiting on the x-rays. I was so happy. I couldn’t wait to take him home. About 10 minutes later, the vet called me back and told me that the x-rays showed that Rascal had cancer throughout his lungs. The only treatment was chemotherapy which would give him 2 months at most. Even the vet was shocked. One year ago, Rascal’s lungs were perfect. I could not let him suffer and gave the o.k. to let them euthanize. I am having such a hard time coping with this whole thing. I cry and cry hoping that the pain will go away sooner but it doesn’t. I try not to get upset in front of my son but I miss Rascal so much. He was my baby. I can’t walk into a single room without looking for him. Please help. I feel like I’m falling apart.

  • Karen

    Dear Laurie-

    Thank you so much for your kind words. Over the past few days, I have been able to work through my guilt and realize that, yes, Nigel did have a long and wonderful life filled with lots of love. I have been looking through our photo albums remembering all the funny and unique things both cats loved to do. One thing that struck me is that in most of the photos with both my cats, they are touching or grooming each other, so the disappearance of Maggie may have impacted him more than I thought. It was only after she left that he started losing the weight.

    I also realized that last year, when I said that I felt guilt over not having the vet run more tests, was a difficult one for my human family. My 3 year old was hospitalized twice and had 3 ER visits in the last half of the year (due to asthma). We also thought my husband had cancer, and went through a surgery at the end of the year. Everyone is ok now, but maybe I just couldn’t bear more bad news then. For example, say we had found out that Nigel had some form of cancer, would we have had to make the decision to have him euthanized?

    I also have talked to my extended family who knew and loved Nigel, espressing my concerns that he was living in pain. They assured me that, even though he was no longer the robust cat he once was, that he was still social and always came out for family gatherings. He especially loved my father and father-in-law, who were always gave out extra treats. My dad, who is a retired physician, pointed out that cats in pain would be hiding and certainly not want to be around large groups. While I know that cats can be experts at hiding pain, I think we would have known if he had been in serious distress.

    While there are still moments when I break down in tears, I am starting to focus more on the good times. I had bought some food and treats for him the day before he died, and didn’t just want to return it to the store, so we took it to our local animal shelter for the kitties in need. We spent some time as a family petting the cats and dogs, and it seemed to help. I may even end up volunteering there once the kids go back to school. I am very sad that we will not be able to adopt another cat (or two) due to my childrens’ asthma and allergies, but perhaps there may be a puppy in our home in the next couple of years. I will have another cat in my lifetime, it may just have to wait until the children are in college.

    For now, I will continue to write in my journal and read others’ stories. It is very comforting to know that many others are feeling the same way that I do.

    Thank you again Laurie, and thank you to everyone that has shared their stories. I know we wouldn’t be having these feelings if we did not love our pets deeply.

  • Detlef

    Like so many here, I’m grieving the loss of our feline companion who we had euthanized on July 14 following several vets’ advice when it became apparent he had serious neurological problems – probably caused by a tumor – and the prognosis was dismal.

    He’d wondered into our lives when he was about 2 and was with us about 14 years. What has made matters worse for me is that my wife left on a long-planned overseas trip about a week and a half after our friend died, leaving me to grieve alone. We’d always been a family of three: me, my wife, and our friend, and have never been terribly social, so I’m finding it very difficult. We did discuss aborting the trip but I was against it; we could hardly afford it and anyway, it was so my wife could see her family, all of whom live overseas.

    So I’m in the house alone, and every inch of it reminds me of our friend. The place-setting where he had his food and water bowls is still there; there is still heaps of food in the cupboard. All his favorite places – which includes just about every room except the bathroom, remind me of him. A day doesn’t pass when I don’t shed some tears. He was such a big part of our lives.

    As others here, I have feelings of guilt – those times when he wanted my lap and I didn’t want him there, or when I was at the computer and he’d interrupt whatever I was doing (I work casual from home). Most of the time when he was inside (which was most of the time, especially as he grew older) he preferred to be with either me or my wife. It got so I put a favorite chair of his next to mine at the computer, and many an evening he’d curl up and sleep there, but only after we’d had a cuddle session, usually instigated by him.

    I’ve received some easing of the pain I’m going through by reading of others’ feelings here, and for that I thank you.

    We should remember, I guess, that like us, our animal friends get sick and old, too, and we usually do all we can to keep them in good health for as long as we can, but eventually a day arrives…

    It all seemed too soon. The first symptoms we noticed were on the night of Friday 9 July. During the ensuing days of visits to emergency clinics and vets his condition just worsened. There wasn’t anything anyone could do.

    I stayed with him until it was over; my wife couldn’t — it was just too hard. I’m comforted that he died with someone he loved and who loved him.

    Eventually we may meet with another furry friend who’ll wind us around his little paw, but for me, at least, that time is some ways away. The memories are still too raw, and it hurts terribly.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Karen,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Saying good-bye to a cat after 15 years is so difficult and so heartbreaking. And, you’re dealing with alot of guilt, which makes mourning more complicated!

    You did the best you could while Nigel was alive. You gave him all the time and attention you could, and you have nothing to feel guilty for. Like you said, hindsight is 20/20 — and we ALL wish we could have done more in our human and animal relationships. But, we do the best we can given our lives, responsibilies, and mindset….and we need to forgive ourself if “the best we can do” doesn’t live up to some ideal of how we should love the people and animals in our lives.

    You gave Nigel a warm loving happy home for 15 years. He lived a long, happy life….and I suspect you’ll see him again someday.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Shirl,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your cat’s death. It must have been such a shock, because he was so young!

    There must have been something wrong with him — he just wasn’t meant to grow up and become an adult cat. Some of our most beloved creatures on earth are taken before they have a chance to live a long, full life…and your cat was one of them.

    The only reason you should feel guilty is if you did something wrong. But you didn’t do anything wrong, and you certainly didn’t mean to hurt your cat! You made the best possible choices — and if you knew he was going to die, you would have made different choices.

    Letting go of guilty over a pet’s death is difficult, but it’s necessary. It’s so hard to mourn in a healthy way if you feel guilty about how your cat died.

    Try not to focus on the pain, sadness, and grief you feel. It’s important to mourn, but it’s equally important to remember your cat with love, peace, and joy. I don’t know how long you’re supposed to mourn for — it depends on your personality!

    So, it’s okay to be sad that your poor cat is gone…and then it’ll be time to honor your cat’s life by remembering him with warm thoughts and love. After all, his life was about love and happiness and playtime 🙂 not sadness and grief.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • Karen

    My 15 year old cat, Nigel, died yesterday. I just feel so guilty and think that I should have done more to help him. About a year and a half ago, Nigel started losing weight. He went from about a 14 lb cat to a 9 lb cat. We took him to the vet last July and they did the full work up, including lab work and a cardiac ultrasound. Nothing abnormal was detected, so they just put him on a diabetic diet (for the increased calories) and told me to come back in 2 months to have him weighed. They did say the next step would be to do an abdominal ultrasound to check for tumors. He seemed to improve slightly on the food, and I never took him back in to be weighed or to have the ultrasound. My husband and I did not feel that we would put him through surgery or other tumor treatment if that was the case. Nigel seemed ok, except slowly he started not to do some of the things he used to, like jump on the bed to sleep (I don’t think he physically could) or come out and beg for food when my husband ate on the couch. The last couple of months he has been deteriorating a little more rapidly. I didn’t take him back to the vet this year, and just knew yesterday morning that he wasn’t going to last much longer. He did eat his treats and daily wet cat food and used his litter box, though. My kids and I went out to do errands, and when we came back, found him lying on the cold kitchen tile floor. I thought he was dead then because I saw no movement. As I was putting a towel over him to cover him up, he moved. His eyes were glassy and didn’t blink. His breathing was labored and raspy, and he was drooling. It was obvious he was in pain. My husband was going to take him to the vet to be euthanized, but he died about 5 minutes before he got home from work.

    My guilt comes from 3 sources: (1) Shouldn’t I have tried harder last year to find out what was wrong? Or taken him back this year at least when he was due for his annual check up? I’ve been reading and it seems like hyperthroidism is common in older cats with unexplained weight loss. Of course they checked for that last year, but should I have had them check another time? This is an all cats vet, so I am confident in their abilities, but still…(2) Gosh, has he been in pain all this year and suffering? Maybe it was some sort of painful cancer and we could have at least gotten him something to ease the pain. (3) We’ve had him since the beginning of our marriage. It was 9 years before we had kids, so the last 6 have been taken up with the kids. Nigel and his sister, Maggie, (who didn’t come home one day a couple of years ago-she was an indoor cat who was VERY upset when the children came, so we had to make her an indoor/outdoor cat-there was lots of guilt when she disappeared) were our babies, and then the kids came along and the cats just took a backseat. I feel guilt over not spending as much time with him and making him a lower priority in my mind. I also feel guilty because the children were rough with him these last couple of months and feel that he suffered at their hands during his last days. Not that they were trying to hurt him, but they liked to pick him up and carry him around or put him in the laundry basket, play house, etc. Obviously I tried to stop this whenever I could, but he would still cry out or growl when they were around.

    I know that hindsight is 20/20, and that certainly a child takes precedence over a pet in terms of time, attention, and money, but I can’t shake the feeling that I just gave up on him and I allowed him to suffer with an undiagnosed illness.

    The house seems so lonely now (yes, even with 2 little boys running around), and we have no plans to adopt another cat. Both my children have asthma and are allergic to cats. We did keep the cats in spite of everyone telling us to get rid of them. And, yes, my husband was the one who refused to consider giving them up, I did want to at times (more guilt) for the sake of my children’s health.

    Thank you to all who take the time to read this. I do feel just a little better writing it all down, but will miss him terribly for a long, long time. I just want to get past the guilt and start thinking of happier times. He was a magnificent cat.

  • shirl

    I am hoping that there is someone on here to talk too. First off, I pray that all of you on here will have your hearts healed, you sound like wonderful loving people. I lost my cat and as I write this, I am crying to the point that I feel like I do not want to be here anymore because of my grief. My cat died and I found him on the basement floor. He was only approx 1 and 1/2 year old. Beautiful, affectionate, funny, etc. The most special living being who I fell in love with and now cannot believe is gone. I think of holding him and it feels like a dream. The fact that I did have that opportunity many times is hard to grasp because I cannot hold him again. I do not know why he died. My guilt is that when I saw him, I knew he was gone and I went to work!!!! Why didnt I take off? It is one week ago this happened so I took off of work in honor of his memory. My guilt is also that he was indoor/outdoor (i found him outside) and that I didnt take him to vet for autopsy. But the worst guilt is that the night before, I was outside(after i got home from work) and did not see him, apparently he slept thru the morning til early afternoon. Noone remembers because he was in and out of the house. That night, I was on the computer in the basement and I didnt look for him or wonder about his whereabouts. Maybe I would have seen him, maybe I could have helped him. I think I took for granted he was being outside like usual. I love him so much and I am so sorry that he was taken away. He deserved a life, a long life. I feel guilt, loss, and my heart goes to him because he was cheated. I replay what I should have done. How could I act that way? Why didnt I play and hold him more? Why didnt I look for him? Maybe I could have saved him…and now, how do I live without him?

  • Terri Onizuk

    Thank you so much Laurie. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer me. Before finding your site I was going to go talk to my priest. Now I don’t think that will be necessary. It is very kind of you to offer this service. Thank you. I will try to forgive myself.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Terri,

    I’m SO sorry to hear about your dog’s death…of course you feel guilty! You think you could have prevented your beloved pet from dying…but you’re wrong. It was his time to go, and so he went.

    You have to free yourself from your guilty feelings! Feeling terrible won’t bring him back to life. You have to take your vet’s words seriously: there was probably a pre-existing condition that was too much for him. If it wasn’t the heat, it would’ve been something else that pushed him over into the next world.

    You’re grieving your dog’s death, and that’s normal. But you need to let go of your guilt so you can mourn him in a healthy way. You have to take control of your thoughts and feelings, and give yourself the gift of forgiveness and freedom.

    You know you would have brought him in much sooner if you thought there was a problem. You did NOT cause his death.

    Forgive yourself. Accept the truth: it was an accident, and he had a health problem that made him vulnerable.

    I hope you’re doing okay, and that you’re able to let go of the guilt.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • Terri Onizuk

    I am feeling the worst kind of guilt and regret. On Sunday we lost a beloved pet in our family. It was my daughter’s dog, a vivacious, playful, joyous Corgi. He was only a few years old. My daughter had been traveling and we were caring for him as we have many times. We live in North Carolina where it has been exteremely hot for weeks. On Sunday it was nearly 100 degrees. We often have our dogs out for hours at a time, even in the heat as they have become accustomed to the hot weather. Well this Sunday we had been outside for approximately an hour or so. The dogs (our 11 year old golden, our 1 year old toy poodle and the Corgi) had ample shade and plenty of water. They were not leashed and were free to walk around at their leisure. I was distracted watering my flower and then I went into the garage to fold laundry. My two dogs came into the garage and I called for Joey. I had to call twice. Finally he came through the door and he stumbled. I knew immediately he was in trouble. My first reaction was to get him into a tepid bath to help him cool down. I stayed with him as I kept trying to cover him with the cool water. After a little while I took him from the bath and brought him to a fan. I thought that would cool him down more. I even thought he was improving. Suddenly he began convulsing and fell over. All I knew to do was to try mouth-to-snout recessitation. It didn’t seem to be helping. I was by myself and worked to load him in my car and off to the emergency vet. By the time I arrived, he was lifeless. They asked me if I wanted them to try extraordinary measures to recessitate him, I said do whatever you can. They were able to get a faint heartbeat but Joey never recovered. He died. The vet told me that it didn’t sound like a normal case of heat stroke and that he would bet there was some underlying heart problem. I had to call my daughter and tell her that her beloved pet was dead. She was devistated. Three days later all I can do is cry and ask “what if?”. What if I would have been paying attention to them and noticed he was in trouble? What if I had only taken them inside out of the heat? I am plagued by extreme guilt. I just want to sleep so I don’t have to think about it. I just want him back. He was a wonderful little dog and he was a great play pal for my poodle. They were the best of friends. They used to play together all day while we were at work. Since Sunday I can hardly get up and live. Everyone keeps telling me that it’s not my fault but I believe in my heart that it is. I think he had heat stroke and I should have known better than to put my dogs in harms way. Even my daughter is understanding and says that it’s not my fault. She is mature enough to try and make me feel better about it but nothing seems to help. I’m utterly lost, grief and guilt stricken.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Matt,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your poor cat. Grieving about a pet’s death is hard enough without feeling guilty over how our pet left us 🙁

    The most important thing to remember is that you did the best you could. You did everything in your power to make the right decisions for Apollo, based on the information that you had. You would never have made a decision that put him in pain or end his life more quickly! Hindsight is 20/20 — and though many of us pet owners would love to go back and do things differently based on what we know now, we just can’t.

    When you start feeling guilty about Apollo, I hope you keep telling yourself that you did the best you could. Release yourself from your guilt. Apollo would not want you to remember him sick like he was at the end….and he certainly wouldn’t want you to be sad and depressed when you think about him.

    I hope you can free yourself from guilt over his death, and mourn him in a healthy way. Set yourself free. Set Apollo free.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • Matt

    First off… I am so grateful I found this site.
    I’m in the middle of immense grief (combined with guilt and regret) and looking for some kind of answers. I just lost my cat, Apollo, who I had for almost 16 years (he was 16 and 7 months) to CRF.
    I’m writing/posting because I’m still having problems ‘making sense’ of the whole circumstances of the progression of the disease… I feel like it really blindsided me, and so I’m trying to see if there’s anyone else out there who has (or are) experiencing it the same way.

    When Apollo was around 15, and took a senor blood panel at the vet, I was informed that his kidney levels were starting to rise, but were not incredibly bad (creatnine at around 2.7 – 2.8, I believe.) Everything else (thyroid, liver, diabetes risk) was all good, normal. I should also note that he did have a heart murmur… which the vet graded around a middle range.

    The vet said we should start him on renal food, and so I did. Everything had been seeming fine, except … by the end of last year… and really increasing notably by this past March/April, (which would have been just a little over a year later), he started exhibiting behavorial signs that just weren’t like him. Late at night, he would start pacing around the couch/coffee table constantly meowing… a nervous kind of pacing, (he was the ultimate lap cat… always wanting to be there… and so even after a few minutes of him going to my lap, he’d start the pacing up again. And then he would start waking me up very early in the AM to be fed (just wasn’t like him)… and then after feeding him… he still wouldn’t seem very satiated. He would still cry, and it would take him a while to calm down. I had had another cat years back (older) who had had thyroid issues, and the symptoms seemed similar, so I, naturally, thought this might be the case as well. I, of course, took him to the vet (this was this past April). We did another senior panel (this would have been about a year from the last one.) I – at that time – asked if there was anything I could do to ‘chill him out’ at night… also so he’d sleep a little more … (the whole thing was having me lose some sleep too.) My vet gave me a little valium to give him that I could give him at night.
    Well … it would be that later night/early am that would be the moment if I could turn back and change, I would. Anyways … I gave him the reccomended dosage. It didn’t seem to do much. Gave him some more… same thing. Tried going to sleep… in the morning… he did the same thing … I got impatient/angry… something I will always be ashamed of … and gave him a good amount more… too much… angry while I was doing it… just wanting him to be quiet. I’m sick with myself while I think of it. When I woke up a few hours later, I came to my senses and realized how incredibly stupid and reactionary I had been. He was, obviously, really gorked out (still eating though… and walking…though sluggishly around.) I anxiously called my vet… and wanted, of course as well, the results form the panel taken the previous day.

    She finally called me and told me that the only thing that was really going on was that… the kidney levels were raising. (creatnine at 3.5.) I was a little surprised… only because he had been on renal food the whole time, but she explained to me that I would have seen higher numbers had he not been. Everything else was good… liver great, no thyroid issue (which – of course – surprised me.) I, then, told her about the valium incident… of which I was greatly worried and consumed with guilt about. She told me that ‘yes’ … it was a big amount… but just watch him … and that it would take about 72 hrs for it to get out of his system. I thought he was doing ok, a little better each day, but by the 72 hour mark… things worsened. He was really lethargic… hiding in a closet at one point. I was beside myself.

    I, of course, rushed to the vet the next day. We needed to take another panel… she gave him fluids that day, and I would have the results back after the weekend. The results came back and it turned out… his kidney levels shot sky high (creatnine up to 8.5.)… while everything else stayed ok. I was beside myself. She was hoping that they may have come down since the fluids that day, so we retested. They were continuing to shoot up … creatnine up to 11.5. She told me it was at the point where the only thing we could do was for me to administer him in for a stay there with an IV for a kidney flush to bring the levels down. Again, I was beside myself… and couldn’t live with myself if I had caused this.

    TO NOTE: in addition to my vet, I sought the opinions of 2 other vets over the months that followed, and they both told me it wasn’t the valium that did this (they even said the amount i gave him wasn’t super horrible) … that he had kidney failure… and that it was iminent… and that the creatnine rise could even be a coincidence of timing. Regarding the behaviors of the nighttime pacing and early morning crying… my vet chalked it up to ‘senior moments’. I’m not sure. It may have been his way of indicating discomfort… I’ll never know. BUT.. regarding everyone telling me it wasn’t the valium, that incident will always be the link which ‘sped things up’ in my mind. I don’t know.

    Anyways … to continue on: after being in the vet for a kidney flush for 6 days (and to note: the vet was very careful to administer the flow of the flush slowly due to his heart murmur), we finally got the creatnine levels back down to 4.5. I was estatic and felt so relieved and just wanted my boy back. (TO NOTE, he would be put on a regimen of sub q fluids at home here twice/day.) However: two major side effects of the experience… he got a urinary tract infection from the experience/flush(which, I guess, was told can be common from the procedure) AND he stopped eating the wet version of the renal food which I had been feeding him for over a year and started eating the dry version of it. Because he was older and alot of his teethe were a bit stressed… they came out even more stressed… I could tell they were hurting him when he was eating back at home.(I had been putting off a dental for a while… due to his age.) but now… I could tell they were really hurting, and so I knew he was going to need one… but I – of course – didn’t want to do one yet after what he had just been through. The whole thing stressed me more. A week later, we tested the levels, and they were staying the same (but that’s what revealed the UTI), so he went on antibiotics. We waited a bit, and then proceeded with the dental, upon which he did great (my vet padded him wth fluids before and after and had to use very little anesthesia)… and seemed the best he had ever been in this whole process… really good energy… eating well.(We’re at the beginning of May at this point.) BUT… to note… one downside this whole time: ever since he got out of the vet from the 6 day kidney flush, he never ate again the wet renal food that I had consistently given him for over a year. I tried and tried. He even picked at the dry less and less, so I had to switch to good brands of senior food. This fact always disheartened me.

    48 hrs later after the dental, things changed. He started going under my desk, and I knew something was up. (we had given him a very small, short course (like 4 days) of Baytril due to the UTI (I hadn’t felt the previous antibiotic was doing it) … I stopped it immediately after he started seeming weird. (TO NOTE: the UTI did clear.)

    Back to the vet for testing. 2 very disappointing things, and 2 things that told me, essentially, he would never be back up to prime health again. His creatnine levels shot up again… back up to 8.5. I was devasted and baffled. He had been getting the sub qs twice/day… the levels had stayed stable after the flush.. up to the dental which was like almost 2 weeks. I couldn’t understand it. In addition to this, his heart had gotten stressed from receiving the fluids (remember his heart murmur)(she did an xray and saw fluid around the heart), and so we had to reduce the sub qs to once daily, AND he had to start taking a heart medication (benazypril.) The xray also showed he had some small kidney stones, which she explained to me can increase the chance for another UTI. Again, more devastation, and I’m sure all of you can fill in the blanks of what I was going through, emotionally.

    Fortunately with the heart medication and the sub qs down to once a day, the fluid around the heart did clear up (this was mid May at this point), but I was living in a limbo… still in shell-shock this was happening… still drenched in guilt. My vet assured me it wasn’t me/the valium incident that caused all this. She said, “Matt… you have to know it’s not like you took a year off his life or something like that… it may have sped things up a bit, but we still would have been here doing this soon … this WOULD have happened.” I couldn’t (and still can’t) wrap my brain around it. A week before ‘the valium incident’, he was playing with a laser pointer. That would never happen again.

    I’ve already wrote tons here, and if you’re still reading, I’m eternally grateful. Anyways, I’ll try to sum up. What followed was… good days, bad days, the rollercoaster that it is. Resorting to anti-nausea shots to get him to eat. By the end of May, it segued with him peeing everywhere. I even put a small litterbox on top of my bed, and he still peed on the bed (and everywhere else.) I, sadly, had to keep him, eventually, out of my bedroom which still makes me cry (as does everything) now… as he always slept with me. And the peeing got worse. Just random places. I said to my vet…”maybe another UTI?”. She said it could be, but it was likely just the progression of the disease.

    At this point, on an emotional level, I felt so blessed he was still with me, but at the same time… I knew he was declining and knew the end neared, and so he and the whole thing was simultaneously this constant source of sadness in my life. I was lving in limbo because it was like the end was there looming, and everyday I wondered ‘when’ and ‘how much more time does he have?’, etc. (you all know it.)

    By the beginning of this month, he was anemic. I couldn’t affford a blood transfusion (which wouldn’t have ‘fixed’ anything anyways.) This whole thing, by the way, had put me in debt anyways… I reached a point where I didn’t care. I opted for the drug, Epogen. It didn’t work.
    I finally had to make the choice this past Monday to let him go. (It had gotten to a point on the weekend prior where he had been retreating to, soley, wanting to be on the balcony… and I just knew.) TO NOTE: my vet told me… after it was over, that he went with the sedative which was a big indicator that he was really ready to go.

    The grieving process is BEYOND hard and painful… (I feel like I’ll never get through it) and what’s acting as a major obstacle for me is still that feeling of “it shoudln’t have happened this way!!” I mean … I hear of (and have known) of so many owners of cats with kidney failure who get the news (with an even higher creatnine level than he had), start the process of giving their cat sub qs maybe say… 3x/wk … and they have their cat in a pretty good state for sometimes 2 years.

    Like I said, he had a creatnine level on that Monday in April of 3.5 and was playing with a laser pointer, and by the weekend it was up to 8.5 (and then higher.) ‘Yes’ … after the flush, we did get it down to 4.5 again, but… as you’ve heard the story, it was the beginning of the end… with only 3 months left for him to live (and not in a great, happy state.) And… even with everyone… 2 different vets and people alike… telling me, “Matt, it wasn’t the valium incident”, it hard for me not to think that that wasn’t the bridge which linked him to getting faster towards his end.

    I try to ask myself, “maybe the disease was way more progressed than I knew… and than he was leading on?” even though the level read a 3.5 on that Monday. “Maybe the pacing/meowing at night, the crying in the morning for food and not seeming satiated… maybe it was about something not being right… and not just ‘senior moments’??”… like my vet said.
    (One of the other vets I spoke with thought that those behaviors were definite indicators that something WAS wrong… perhaps a central nervous system problem… that a blood test wouldn’t necessarily pick up. I guess I’ll never know. But that feeling of ‘it happened way too fast and SHOULDN’T of happened this way… (based on his numbers) compared to how it seems to go down for so many other catowners with the same problem… is really making the whole thing now so much for painful for me, and – I know – acting as a block for me to grieve in the way I should.

  • JulieB

    Patrizia, my heart goes out to you! I can certainly empathize with what you’re feeling as I also felt tremendous guilt with deciding to not being Magic in his last moments. I just didn’t think I could handle it at that moment. But our decision came so fast and we acted on instinct. I really hope Magic knew that we were there for him and that he was being helped. He really was on his last legs and I think he knew because the fight had really went out of him and he just wanted to lay down which was so unlike him at the vets. But I do take comfort that we were able to say our goodbyes to him because some don’t even get that. I guess we all have to work it out in our own ways. But deep down I know our pets know our love that binds us and I don’t think that ever goes away. You said you only had her for a couple of years but I lost my first cat I ever had under a year and it tore me up because even at that short of time a bond is formed. So I do understand. I found it hard to find a support group within family as well. My husband still won’t talk to me about him, he says it hurts too much. But I guess we all have to find our own way. Dana sounds very special and I hope you’re feeling better. My sister told me that even had I been in the room I might have regretted that as well later on. I think it’s hard period no matter what decisions we make at the time. But I do know Dana loved you and I’m sure that love was with her at the time.

  • Patrizia Santos

    I wanted to thank you Laurie for taking the time and responding to my comment. I read the article you suggested and found it to be very helpful. My guilt comes also by the fact that I desired not to be in the room with her when the vet put her to sleep even though the vet didn`t ask me. I was supposed to be there for her and I wonder if she was looking for me. I know somehow I have to live with that descision for the rest of my life. I will read the article again and again until I feel better. Thank you again:)

  • Patrizia Santos

    I wrote about my story two weeks ago. I lost my love, my pet Dana. She was evrything to me even if some people think that she was only a rat. I loved her very much and she loved me. She was alweys there for me when I neded a shoulder to cry on. My family doesn`t care much so when I need someone to talk to I feel alone. I know that she was sick and up in age but when I made the descision to put her to sleep I wasn`t ready and now I wish the vet would have helped me to understand the magnitude of the guilt that I have to deal with afterwards which is very deep inside of me. I know that I made the descision for her, but it is still haunting me. Even though I only had her for only a couple years, the impact she had on my life and the bond we had was very strong and something I never experienced with anything. It’s been a month since she has passed and I still haven’t been able to fill that empty void she left behind. I know many people have had pets for many years such as with cats and dogs but I would appreciate any words of comfort to deal with my loss. Love to all who are currently dealing with the loss of their beloved pets.

  • JulieB

    Lin,

    Wow, our stories really do kind of mirror each other, don’t they? I had tons and tons of guilt over Magic’s diet. He used to be on a special diet when he was 5 after he had surgery to reconstruct his uretha. But most of his bladder problems had cleared up and he never really liked science diet or iams. But in the last couple of months his appetite had changed and we were trying many different things, one being fancy feast shrimp feast which he loved but now afterwards I find out it’s very bad for someone in that condition. But someone said it might have done him some good since he wasn’t really eating like he used to.
    I’ve beat myself up so much over this even though I’ve had some amazing support and reassurance since it’s happened. Someone said that even if I didn’t have any guilt over Magic’s death than I would have probably found something else to feel guilty over. And amazingly enough that’s true. Once I started down from my guilt spiral over his death I would go back to times to when I didn’t want him on me (which really wasn’t all that often, I loved spending time with him and he was pretty spoiled with attention) or wishing that I had cleaned his bowl out better, stuff like that my husband thinks is crazy but I can’t help it. I just miss him period and I think when it comes down to it, it’s just going to take time and I have to work though it.

    Mystery (love the name) sounds like she was just as special as our Magic. And there had to be a reason she showed up at “your” doorstep. I’m sure her life was filled with happiness and love by the sound of it.

    Thanks so much for your reply, it’s a comfort to know I’m not alone and likewise I hope you too, realize that Mystery had an amazing Mommy who loved her very much 🙂

  • Lin

    For JulieB,

    Reflecting on being plagued by “what ifs” as well, I just had to have my cat Mystery euthanized this morning (Tuesday). I am mirroring your story with mine. She was about 12 (found her on my doorstep as a kit-kat so her age was a guess). She was at the lower range of a cat’s average age. She also had hyperthyroidism and was dying of kidney and heart complications. I feel awful too, assuming her weight loss, constant eating, and throwing up was related to summer heat, seasonal shedding, and a change of diet. She also used to be quite obese (without anti-depressants!). It was only in the past several months that I noticed her weight loss and change of coat texture, and assumed (something that I am terribly regretting) that is was also just an aspect of her aging. Mystery did not act normally for the past month, but not enough to get me to a vet. She had not been to vet in 10 years, because she would fight me fang and claw when I tried to get her into a carrier. I thought the stress of the struggle and the trip would cause her to have to be treated for high blood pressure! I also had an instinct that this ‘was it’ as I felt I was reliving a past scenario with my previous cat who was dying and I didn’t realize it. Still afraid to put Mystery through the stress of being dragged to the vet I arranged for a ($$$) house call. Within 24 hours, the house call was completed with blood work done and fluids administered. Then, based on the test results I had to bring her in to the vet yesterday afternoon, having started to say my goodbyes for the past 3 weeks but hoping I was just paranoid. This morning my boyfriend and I paid our last visit to Mystery in an examining room, talking to her, petting her, and saying goodbye. Her personality was still somewhere in there (in her eyes), but the cat I really knew and loved was lying on a blanket, scared, distressed, and disoriented – a shell of her feisty self. We did stay with her to the end, as the meds were given, and it was indescribably heartbreaking to feel her leave. I am devastated as I write this.
    So one difference is that I was there in the end, but the guilt is not necessarily less because there is still all the second-guessing about everything else. I only wish I had held her in my lap, but couldn’t think of it at the moment. If Magic was like Mystery, the distress of a body and breathing failing may not have been the last memory you would have wanted to take away. You made the best choice you could at the time.
    I have many regrets that I will eventually have to forgive myself for (like a diet that seems to be associated with hyperthyroidism) because I did the best I could for the all of the years I had with Mystery. I will grieve and mourn and remember how blessed I was discovering her on my doorstep 11 years ago, and I hope to find solace in knowing I did the best I could during a crisis. You did the best you could too.

    Hope this brings some peace to you,
    Lin

  • JulieB

    Dear Laurie,

    I too, am plagued with so many “what ifs” of my pet cat Magic’s passing, this past Friday. He was 19 and half and I know he had a long life but apparently he had hyperthyroidism and was dying of liver failure. I feel awful because we assumed his weight loss, constant eating and throwing up somehow related to the fact that he was diagnosed as ocd when he was 9 or 10. In fact he used to be quite obese and over the years after taking off prozac he seemed pretty happy and peaceful and it was only the last few years that we really noticed the weight loss was quite a bit but then we once again assumed (something I’m really regretting) was that it was just an aspect of his aging. Magic acted normal until two days before we took him him in. He hadn’t been to the vet in ages, he was quite the fighter and at 15 or 16, we thought in some ways it would make him worse. I don’t know. But in the end, when his behavior changed drastically, I had an instinct this was it. But still didn’t know and at the vet had to make fast decisions, and one of them that puts the most guilt on me is the fact that my husband and I cried with him, said our goodbyes and chose not to be with him in the end, we couldn’t bear it. Now I feel I betrayed Magic and it continually breaks my heart. We lavished such love on him because we had no children of our own, and he us (he constantly was with us) and yet the only I can think about is not being there to comfort him in the final moments of his life.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Dear Patrizia,

    You have to know that you did the right thing! Your pet was suffering, and in pain. Letting her live would be like torturing her, which is not a loving way to treat your pet.

    You made the right decision, and you have nothing to feel guilty about. You’re feeling misplaced or inappropriate guilt — becauuse there’s no reason to feel guilty for making the best decision you could!

    Please read this article about letting go of guilt:

    Dealing With Guilty Feelings When Your Pet Dies

    The tips in this article, and the one above, are my best ways to get over the guilt of your pet’s death. You need to take control of your feelings, and keep telling yourself that you made the right decision.

    I hope this helps.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • Patrizia Santos

    We rescued our pet rat Dana from being eaten by a snake. She became part of our family for two years. Her age was probablly 2 1/2. The last couple of months she grew tumors and developed respiratory problems, and she lost wieght. Barely drinking and eating. Needlees to say she was sick. Brought her to the vet and he prescribed antibiotics for her. A week later she got worse. Having a difficult time breathing, grasping for air. We took her back to the vet and he adviced us to put her to sleep so she wouldnt suffer and suffocate to death eventually. We took a few minutes and said our goobyes and then let her go, after of course considering all other options which he said would be to no avail. Now I can not get over the guilt of having made such a decision. All the what if’s come to my mind. Was it her time? Please help me to cope and understand.
    THANK YOU.

  • Jane

    Nate – just read your post, so sorry to hear of your loss of Petey, it is indeed heartbreaking – we lost our dog of 14 years old 3 weeks ago to cancer and the pain is still so raw. We are full of guilt of wish we had treated him more, cuddled him more, so many thoughts. We miss him so much as all of us on here do. I hope you recover soon and can be strong – but of course you will miss her forever.

  • Nate

    I lost my little Petey last Monday at 9:40 a.m. She evidently had a heart attack two days previous the vet said. She was breathing so shallow, I took her in to get checked and that is what I was told. I had a feeling that she was near the end, but I didn’t want to accept it. I wanted to be selfish, but I decided it best to let her go. I miss her so. I have such a whole in my heart that I am in pain it seems. I miss her waking me up, greeting me at the door, all those things I took for granted. There is never enough time in life, so while you have it, make sure you use it wisely. I had my little life for years. It wasn’t long enough. It just goes so fast. Petey was a wonderful and sweet friend, a caring companion, a forgiving and tolerant pal. I will truly miss her sweet face. The world moves really fast… slow down and pet your friend a little longer. They ask so little. Goodbye my friend.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Dear Celeste,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your cat…you’ve had such a long time with him, and it’s heartbreaking that he’s gone. Saying good-bye is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do…

    But, you have to remember that this was your final act of love towards him. It was time for Baby to leave, after 15 years of happiness, comfort, and joy with you. You didn’t want to let him go because you loved him so much, and you finally decided to let go because you loved him so much!

    You’ve been acting out of love the whole time, and you should not feel guilty about that.

    How will you remember him? Some people find pet memorial stones very comforting, while others create photo albums or urns of ashes. Others make a collage of pictures for the wall. Memorializing him won’t take the pain away, but it could help you work through your grief. And, make sure you give yourself time to grieve. Losing a pet is like losing a member of your family, and the sadness and loss doesn’t just go away overnight.

    No matter how you choose to keep his memory alive — even if it’s just in your heart — remember that you did the right thing. You loved him all the way to the end, and that included letting him go.

    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  • celeste

    I am totally heartbroken…Today, June 7, 2010, I made the decision to put my cat, Baby, who had given me 15 years of happiness thru bad times, to sleep as it became clear that he was never getting better from his paralysis and with his incontinence and all, I was selfish to keep him suffering that way, just because I could not let go, because I was afraid to let go..

    So I did..and I am hurting, as I never had before

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Dear D,

    I haven’t had an anemic cat with this problem, but I just wanted to say how sorry I am that you lost her. What a long journey — she had a good life. It’s easy to see how much you loved her.

    Blessings,
    Laurie
    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post blog ..Pay Off Your Mortgage – 5 Ways to Make Mortgage Payments Go Away =-.

  • D

    My cat Chloe, 15 1/2 years old) passed away last Saturday. She had CRF (chronic renal failure) for 15 months, for which I gave her SQ fluids. The vet was so proud of her because her kidney values were stablized with the fluids.

    But we noticed that she was having problems swallowing her food – the food would roll off her tongue and she would not eat that much with all her efforts. She was hungry. So we took her to the vet. The lab tests did not reveal any change in her kidney tests. There was slight anemia, per my vet – the hematocrit was 24…but she said this was not due to the kidney disease because the Creatinine was only 3.4.

    So we scheduled a full mouth exam and xrays under anesthesia. I found a note next to my phone before I took her to the vet that morning for the procedures – here it was dated 3 months ago (January), and her hematocrit was 39 – the current one of 24 was a 15 point difference. I wanted to speak to the vet before they did the procedures. She called me later that morning and said they would run another hematocrit before doing the procedures.

    The procedures under anesthesia went well… no problems found in her mouth, but Chloe’s hematocrit was 16 – a difference of 8 in 5 days! She also had an IV in at the time they drew the blood, which could have diluted it. They send some bloodwork out to a lab – to check the complete blood count, check for blood parasites. They gave me Hivite iron drops to give her….which she did not like. she also hid under the bed for 2 days . The vet called me 2 days later with the lab results – no parasites, the RBC’s showed a little regeneration, the hematocrit was 19 vs 16.. The vet thought she might have an mass in her abdomen that is slowily bleeding. She said I could start prednisolone – it might help. The vet tech told me earlier that the cats crash hard on Pred – it onlys masks the disease. 3 days later I decided to stop the Pred – I did not think it had to be to tapered off (per an internet site). I did not want to see her crash.

    She tried to eat occasionally but still had problems – she would lick foods that had a lot of gravy. I gaver her SQ fluids to maintain her. It looked like her abdomen was starting to swell. She gagged on a small hairball last Thursday which made things worse. She passed away on Saturday. I was a vet tech years ago…I tried to do what I thought best for her,,,but it is very painful to accept – always wish I did things differently.

    I was wondering if anyone else had an anemic cat whose Hematocrit dropped this quickly? She was negative for FIV, FIP, FeLeukemia.

  • Lori

    Dear Laurie…

    Thank you so much for your comforting words. It does make me realize that my husband and I need to focus more on the positive side that Sophie and Tater provided to us. And, thinking of them together in Doggy Heaven romping around brings a smile to my face.
    Thank you!
    Lori

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Dear Lori,

    I’m so sorry to hear about Sophie…there’s so much grief, regret, and sadness when the things we do accidentally cause harm to our animals.

    First, you need to remember that you did nothing wrong! There was NO WAY you would have put her on the rope if you would’ve known that she’d break free….you couldn’t have known what was going to happen. It’s easy to look back with 20/20 vision and wish we had done things differently…but we have to accept that we’re making the best decisions we can, based on who we are in that moment.

    Regarding not talking about her because it causes more sadness and grief…it’s important to remember that different people grieve in different ways. Some people talk and cry for days, while others put it behind them and move on. When you live with someone who grieves differently, then you need to find the best way to grieve together.

    I think it’s important find the balance between expressing how you feel, and accepting that she’s gone and it’s time to move on. One way to do this is to take 15 minutes a day to talk or write about how you feel (guilty feelings about her death, sad feelings because you recently lost your other dog). After your 15 minute memorial is up, then you need to focus on your present life.

    When those guilty, sad feelings arise, tell yourself that you’ll experience them at 7:30 pm (or whatever your memorial time is). Then, redirect your thoughts to something more positive and mood-lifting. Those positive thoughts can be about Sophie and Tater — because it’s important to remember our lost pets with love and joy, not just guilt and grief.

    Actually, that’s another way to grieve in a healthy way: use your memorial time to focus on the best parts of your dogs’ lives. Remember that they’re not suffering now, and picture them in happy doggy heaven! Let them go, bless them, and focus on saying good-bye with love and freedom…

    You might also think of it as two different ways to honor your dogs’ memory: do you want their legends and lives to be connected to pain, grief, and suffering? Or, do you want their lives and legends to be associated with happiness, freedom, love, and play? The legacy your dogs leave is totally your choice. What legacy would THEY want to leave if they had a choice? They don’t have any say in it…but you do.

    I hope this helps, and wish you and your husband all the best.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Carol, I’m so sorry I missed your comment! Usually I respond much sooner than this; I’m not sure how I let you slip by me….

    And, I’m SO sorry to hear about your foxes. What a heartbreaking thing to happen, and I can just FEEL how guilty, sad, and self-recriminating you feel.

    You have to remember that you made the best decision you could at the time. Sure, hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy to look back and kick yourself for not seeing different or better solutions….but you have to release yourself from that perspective.

    You did the best thing you could at the time.

    You made the best decision you could.

    Keep telling yourself that, Carol. When your thoughts start getting self-critical and negative — when you start flagellating yourself for the only decision you could have made — I want you to tell yourself that you did the best you could.

    I think it’s also important to accept your feelings, and maybe even accept that you’ll always live with your guilt and regret. But there’s a difference between having a streak of regret, and beating yourself up.

    Stop beating yourself up. You protected your foxes for as long as you could, and then you did what you thought was right. Your beloved pets aren’t suffering, and they aren’t in pain…they’re free from this world!

    And, who knows what you may have saved them from…seriously, sometimes the hell we’re in is better than the hell we’ve been spared! We just don’t know what we’ve been spared.

    I hope you’re feeling better these days, and hope you come back and let me know how you are…

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • Lori

    Laurie… My husband and I are both overwhelmed guilt over not replacing or repairing our dog Sophie’s extended rope. There were 3-4 times that she had broke loose, but came home immediately. Not this time. She chased a car and was killed instantly (hopefully, the vet was right and she didn’t suffer). Earlier that morning I had told my husband to put Sophie out on her rope while I fed all of my 12 rescued cats breakfast. I don’t know what possessed me to have her put outside, plus knowing that she had broke away from her rope before. She was such a free spirit and loved to run as it was. She was a rescue dog that was abandoned on our country road eight months ago and she was only 2 years old. It’s just breaking our hearts over what could have been prevented and we have been crying for three days, anguishing over what we should have done differently. I didn’t get to greet her that morning, nor did she have her breakfast. I just can’t get all of the details out of my mind.
    It doesn’t help that we made the decision to have our 15-year-old dog, Tater, put to sleep six months ago. I don’t know if he was suffering from his arthritic legs, but he was having problems walking, even though he was on meds. He couldn’t get up to go outside to do his business, so I carried him everywhere, even upstairs to bed. Tater and Sophie were the best of friends until Tater’s life ended.
    Now we feel like our world is caving in. My husband thinks that we should quit talking about her because all we do is cry. I told him that I need to cry to get over the guilt and the loss. Am I right?
    Thank you so much for your input… Lori

  • Carol

    Laurie,
    I need your help in helping me cope a little better with having to have my two fennec foxes put to sleep.. I had a fennec fox that was almost 5 years old and 1 that was almost 4 years old.. They were and still are the loves of my life.. Where I live they are not legal.. They did not interact with anyone other than my family and they were seldom seen, they had their own room and they were so loved and secure here.. They tend to be very high strung animals.. My son and his ex girlfriend got into a fight and she called animal control on me and my babies.. They came twice in one day and I managed to excape both visits, but later that evening I took them down to my vets to stay over night.. Trying to think about what would be best for them now that animal control had been tipped off that I had them, the next day I went to my vets and I could see how scared and confused they were, and not knowing if and when I could bring them home, and them being very skiddish and not adapting well to new surroundings I decided to have the put to sleep.. If animal control would have gotten hold of them, they would not have loved them right to the last minute of their lives.. Since that decision almost 6 weeks ago, I have been in living hell.. Looking back on the situtation, I could have taken them to my neighbors house and then moved them to my daughters, but they would not have been home with me and their life style would have changed considerably.. They would have been caged and alone more than half of the day, where as they worked with me at home for 4 10 hours shifts a week and then 5 to 6 hours on the other 3 nights.. They were out of their cages more than they were in them.. Like I said earlier, they had their own room, my office and ran free about 16 hours a day..That would have changed along with the fear of not being home with the usual smells and sounds.. I took all of their ways of their life then and how it was going to be into consideration, and at the time I thought that I was making the best decision for their well being.. The guilt and disapointment that I feel in myself is eating me alive.. I should have done something different is all that I can think.. How can I ever forgive myself and more importantly, how can I ever hope to have them waiting for me, and to be with them at the Rainbow Bridge, after what I did to them.. They were my buddies and co-workers and they trusted me.. How can a person ever know that their babies forgive them or not?? I need some help on this please!!!! I miss my babies so so much

    Thank you,

    Carol

  • Loo

    Laurie, Thank you for being so kind and supportive. What a lovely heart you have. You really have helped me to feel better. Your words were like a hug.
    Thank you for that.
    love,
    Loo

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Dear Loo,

    Thank you for sharing your story — and I’m sorry that you’re going through these feelings of guilt. It’s so sad.

    Hold on to the fact that YOU DID THE BEST YOU COULD. Hindsight is always 20/20, which means we can always look back and see how we could’ve done things better. But, we have to forgive ourselves and accept that we did the best we could at the time.

    The choice is yours: you can hold on to guilt, remorse, and pain….or you can cherish your beloved pet the way he was in your dream: happy, content, lively, and healthy. You can lift your own burden! Living in guilt and remorse doesn’t help anything, and it certainly can’t help your lost animal.

    He’s in a better place, he’s not in pain, he’s healthy and happy. He’s forever the way he was in your dream….and that’s far better than being in pain here on earth.

    Take care,
    Laurie

  • Loo

    Hi, I am suffering from so much guilt. It has been tormenting me for months. All of the “If only I had…”‘s in my mind. I just want to rewind time and do it all over again. Spend so much more time. I felt I pushed him away near the end and ignored him, perhaps because I knew what was coming. I knew we were going to put him down. So I think, looking back I started holding him at arm’s length in my mind. We wanted him to go a peaceful way and we didn’t want him to get so bad that he was suffering greatly. So we decided to let him go while he was still somewhat ok. Still in lots of pain though with his arthritis. =( What a horrible thing to have had happen, to push him away, I don’t know how it happened. Perhaps too much death in my family, I knew what was coming and I shut down and pushed him away. The guilt is just awful.

    I just want to go and massage his little legs and love him up. And I can’t. He came to me in a dream the night he died and he was young, healthy, no arthritis and he was so happy and content. What a gift!! But still… the guilt tears my insides apart. I just want my little boo boo boy back.

    Well, I can’t believe I wrote all that. I had originally just wanted to tell you that this article helped me. It really did.
    Sorry to ramble so much.

    Thanks again for what you said.
    I hope it sinks in.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Awwwww, Kirk…I’m so sorry that you’re going through this regret, blame, and self-recrimination. I totally understand — my cat died more than 10 years ago, and I’m still beating myself up for getting mad at her for stuff.

    Remember, you made the best decisions you could with the information you had at the time. You’re human, and hindsight is always 20-20. You gave your dog a wonderful life, and he loved you for it. Now, he’s resting and gone — and you need to grieve. Your pain will eventually lessen…and you’ll remember him with joy and peace.

    My condolences,
    Laurie

  • Kirk

    I rescued my dog at age 6 in 2006 and he was an amazing loyal friend. Unfortunately I had to put my much loved dog down yesterday. It turns out he had cancer in the kidneys but by the time he showed signs of pain on late Sunday afternoon it was to late. I am now trying to deal with the guilt of what if i knew sooner could i have changed his fate, wishing i spent more quality time with him in his last few days but instead i was working (as i had no idea his days were coming to an end), wishing i didnt get angry at him for digging the garden on his last day at home, wishing id let him sleep on the bed two nights before he got sick when he wanted to etc. There are currently so many things going through my head and I am trying to think of all the great things i did for him in his time with me rather than all the bad things but they are still there. However your article has helped and i thankyou for sharing it with us.
    Kirk.

  • Julie

    Dear Laurie,

    Thank you so much for your response. The kids are removing “Louis'”
    things from their home today.

    I myself have been greatly affected by this tragedy.

    It will be so hard to imagine their home without this wonderful dog.

    Regards,
    Julie

  • Laurie PK

    Julie, I’m so sorry for your loss. Coping with feelings of guilt makes mourning your dog’s death so much harder — and it can damage your family relationships, as you’re learning.

    I’m afraid there’s not much you can do, other than to reassure your family members that they weren’t responsible. It was an accident, and your sister would never have deliberately neglected or harmed the dog.

    It’s so sad, and it will take time for your daughter, son-in-law, and sister to heal. Your son-in-law may not be ready to talk about it now, but hopefully can open up to your daughter in a couple of weeks. Ignoring his feelings of loss, anger, and guilt won’t help him heal — but nobody can force him to talk! He may just need time and space to work through his grief.

    I suggest giving your daughter and your sister some resources on dealing with a pet’s death — and dealing with the guilt of it. Keep telling them that it wasn’t their fault, it was a terrble accident, and they can’t get involved in blaming each other.

    And, give them time to recuperate. It might take months or even years to be on good terms again…but unfortunately, that’s normal. Pet loss is a huge blow, and people take it really hard. If other people are involved, it does complicate grief and relationships.

    My condolences, Julie, and I hope your family heals soon from this loss.

    Laurie

  • Julie

    My daughter and son-in-law are so heart broken. Myself included.
    I don’t know how to help them.

    My sister has a large backyard and when we have been there their dog (5years old) loves it.
    They left the dog there for the day and my sister decided to walk him. Within 1/2 hours the dog had breathing problems and 1/2 hour later the dog died on the way to the vet.

    Such guilt as to not know the heat may have been responsible and to have it happen at my sisters house.

    No one is talking to each other now. The loss has truly been devastating. How can they all get over the guilt of this wonderful dog dying. My daughters husband won’t talk about it.