The grief and guilt of rehoming a dog or giving your dog away is intense and sad. I understand how you feel because I had to rehome my own dog. Here’s how I coped with the guilt and grief I felt and still feel.
Below, I share a letter my newly-adopted dog Tiffy wrote to her previous owner (she dictated the letter; I did the actual writing). This might help you see that rehoming a dog is sometimes the best decision. You might also begin to understand how incredibly adaptable and resilient our dogs are.
One of my most popular articles about dogs is How to Decide if You Should Give Your Dog Away. I wrote it because I had to rehome a dog. Since then, I adopted two new dogs: Tiffy (the wee white one in the picture) and Georgie (a the black and white terrier you’ll meet later).
Last night, the person who gave my dog Tiffy to me emailed to say thank you for adopting her. She had to rehome Tiffy because she just couldn’t take care of her anymore. I am so grateful she gave her dog away! And she is so grateful that I was able to adopt her dog and love her fully and completely. Are you struggling with rehoming a dog? Take heart. Know that your dog will adapt – and perhaps even be happier with his or her new family.
After rehoming a dog, you have to believe that the next home will be the right place for him or her. Otherwise, you’ll just keep spinning your wheels in the thick muck of guilt.
How to Cope After Rehoming a Dog
If you’re struggling with the decision to rehome a dog – or if you’re sad and don’t know how to cope with the guilt after rehoming a dog – read this letter. Tiffy wrote it to her previous owners: Marnie and Camelia (not their real names). Both are very sad after giving Tiffy away, and need to know how she is doing.
If reading this letter doesn’t ease your guilt after rehoming your dog, I encourage you to write your own letter to your dog in the comments section below. This might help ease the pain for you.
Dear Marnie and Camelia,
I miss you, but I am very happy and glad to be in my new home! I get lots of love and attention here. My new Mama and Papa don’t have human kids to take care of, so I get all their attention. I have a Big Sister called Georgie, who is a dog like me. She’s bigger, but not nearly as smart as me. But she is showing me how to run and jump and play.
You should see me now – I’m so fast, racing through the forest like a speeding bullet! I run and sniff and get to follow all sorts of exciting new paths that take me on fun adventures. I chase squirrels and raccoons and birds – but they’re too fast for me. I don’t care, I just am so happy to run around after them. I feel big and brave in my new home, and when I bark I am even bigger and braver!
Sign up for my free weekly "She Blossoms" newsletter
I’ve met all my Big Sister’s friends – she has so many friends, and they all fell in love with me as soon as they saw me. They’re called Nico, Shore, Benji, Hunter, Ivy, Bumpy, Senna, Kyla, Ruff, Diablo, and Smokey. See how many new friends I have? They think I’m cute, and the big ones finally stopped stepping on me (it took them awhile to remember how itty bitty I am).
My Big Sister Georgie taught me how to work the thing called “Kong” that gives us yummy treats. Did you know I get homemade chicken soup every day, for breakfast and dinner? And most nights I watch Papa Bear cook steaks or chicken or pork chops on the bbq. Sometimes he drops pieces of meat, and they are more delicious than anything I ever tasted. Mama Bear always makes sure I have real chicken and crunchy bits to eat with my chicken soup meals. I love it so much, I lick the bowl clean every meal! Sometimes I chew on soup bones, because Mama and Papa say it’s good for my teeth. I don’t know anything about that – I just love the way the bones taste!
Even though I am very happy in my new home, I remember you in my dreams. I have a special place in my heart for you, and when I dream of where I was before I came here, I remember how good it felt to be held and hugged and kissed by you. You will always be in my heart and soul, and I will always love you.
One last tip on how to cope with rehoming a dog:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – Steve Jobs.
I wrote How to Heal Your Heart After Losing a Pet: 75 Ways to Cope With Grief and Guilt When Your Dog or Cat Dies to help pet lovers deal with death.
Dealing with the guilt and grief after rehoming a dog is perhaps even more sharply painful than dealing with heartache after a losing a pet to death. Most of our pets’ deaths are natural and caused by old age or ill health. The feelings of loss, shame, and guilt caused by rehoming a dog are traumatic.
Give yourself time and permission to grieve. Rehoming a dog is a painful experience, and you need to allow yourself to process your emotions in healthy ways.
I hope this article has helped you cope with rehoming your dog. your thoughts are welcome below. I can’t offer you advice on rehoming a dog, but I have had to give a dog away and I’ve adopted two dogs, so I understand how you feel.
Your comments are welcome on how to cope with rehoming a dog. Woof.
I can’t give advice, but my prayer is that you heal from the pain and grief of giving your dog away. May you find freedom and self-forgiveness, and know you made the right decision.