When it’s tough to say ‘Goodbye’!

When you brought your canine family member home, you took a chance with love. Every pet parent who has loved and lost a dog knows that it is no different from losing a close one – sometimes even more difficult. Here’s how to cope up with the loss.

Everybody knows that dogs live much shorter lives than us humans – it becomes more difficult actually because these creatures cannot voice their feelings and live their lives like dependent little children regardless of their age. For almost a decade, your daily schedule involves your pet. From meal times, to walks, to regular checkups with the vet, every activity suddenly disappears and all you’re left with is a leash, a water bowl and eyes full of tears.

New companion…

When 12-year-old Priyanka Mukherjee lost her best friend, a golden Labrador called Prince, her mother dealt with her grief along with her own, organising weekly trips to their relative’s house so that Priyanka could play with her cousins’ dogs. Unfortunately, these trips made the little girl miss her dog even more. A month or two later, Priyanka adopted a puppy from the street. Not only did this help her move on, but she also learned about vital things like sterilisation, vaccinations, and the joy of giving a homeless dog a home.

In memory…

But sometimes bringing home another dog is not a solution. While, Rini Sarkar of Kolkata who lost her canine friend to cancer recently, donated every piece of old garments to an NGO that used them to keep newly sterilised dogs warm and comfortable. “I know Goti is gone, but I need to be there for the dogs who are still there and need my help,” she says.

Different people react to situations differently. Here are some ways to deal with your loss in a positive way:

  • Acknowledge the fact that your pet dog received lots of love, food, and medical attention, unlike the unfortunate stray dogs on the streets. Most people who care for the homeless animals become accustomed to receiving bad news of their deaths by injustice; careless vehicle drivers, poisoning, brutal beatings. Be thankful that your furry friend lived a good, sheltered and protected life.
  • Volunteer at your local NGO or animal shelter. You can help collect donations for the upkeep and sterilisation of dogs, or give them the valuable asset of time. Help clean the facilities, be there to serve meals and clean water, attend vaccinations drives.
  • If you have old bed sheets or blankets or even unused vet medicines and shampoo at home, donate them to animal shelters.
  • Start feeding some stray dogs in the neighbourhood or near your office. Help a stray in need by taking care of his medical emergencies or vaccinations. You could carry some biscuits in your bag or pieces of meat. Some people organise rice and chicken meals for the strays in their area. Whatever suits your budget. Additionally, you could carry some basic medicines to deal with any canine emergencies you see. There’s neosporin powder, Bactecon (for deep seated wounds with the possibility of maggots), and an anti-flea powder if you’re ready to use your hands to rub some into dogs’ fur. Talk to your vet for more suggestions.
  • Babysit (or dog sit) your friend or neighbours’ pet dogs. Enjoy the licks and running around. Who knows, both sides could benefit with you having the dog to yourself while the pet parents take a worry-free holiday.
  • Don’t delete your vet or his compounder’s phone number from your phone. Keep them handy in case you see a dog in distress on the street. If you see some dogs on a regular basis, give your mobile number to the local shopkeeper or resident who could contact you in case of emergency.
  • Adopt another pet. When Manas Ghosh lost his pet dog, he was too traumatised to bring another dog home.Instead, his daughter brought in a stray cat. The family had never interacted much with cats, and neither liked or disliked them. With time, she became a part of their family and helped them cope up with the pooch’s loss.
  • If and when you are ready to welcome another dog to your family, remember that just like children, dogs have individual personality traits and behavioural patterns. Don’t expect your new pet to be anything like your old one.
  • Don’t overlook the friendly dogs on the pavement. Some even say they are of sturdier health with more health issues affecting specific breeds. But until you are ready to be a pet parent again, you can always spread your love.
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