A Girl and Her Dog: When Pets Die

She was 13 but we only had her for the last 5 years – Coco had come to my family unexpectedly. She needed a home and I felt that my parents needed a new dog. I told them she would just be there on a “trial run” but I knew better. They were instant goners and by the first night there was no “trial run”; there was just Coco.

photo 1Like any dog she had quirks and a personality that spoke louder than words. She loved cheese and her favorite spot was in the front yard keeping watch with her little paws crossed. She welcomed us home by excitedly herding us to the refrigerator or snack corner where she would whack our legs with her snout until she got a treat – that playful little gag always got me. But there was more than that too. She was comforting, she liked having me around and I thought her company was wonderful. Sometimes it felt like I knew her language, we were true buddies; I was her girl and she was my dog.

We had known about a bad tumor for a few months but it wasn’t until she lost interest in her favorite foods and began struggling to walk or get up that we started to think about how we would say goodbye.

I told my dad that I didn’t want to put her in a car or take her to the vet – two things she really hated. I wanted her to die at home and he found an answer for me with the company Lap of Love.  She would be euthanized at our house in a few days so we had time to say goodbye and be with her and then she would be out of pain.

IMG_9105On the day before her appointment I took her on our last walk together. She LOVED walks and I could tell that even though her body wasn’t allowing her to give me the full show of her enthusiasm, her determined stare through the screen door said, “Let’s go”. We went slowly at her pace and were gone a long time. She even laid down at the park and just looked around, something the Coco I knew would never have had the patience for. It seemed like she somehow knew she would never be there again and wanted to take it in one last time. It was a tearful, special and heart torn walk.

Her last day came and we spent it out in the front yard, basking in the sun and petting her as much as we could.

I found that I was somehow dreading and also wanting the doctor to come. I now wanted it all to be over almost as much as I hated the idea of it. One moment I would think, “this is right, she is really not herself,” and the next my hope would spring up and wonder if she might yet get better and have another month or another summer to spend with me.

But then the doctor arrived and my heart sank. She sweetly and calmly walked up, greeted my family and then met Coco, petting her so kindly and telling me what a sweet dog she was – it was so nice to hear. She then explained what she would do and what Coco would experience. My mom and dad went inside with the vet and signed the paperwork and Coco followed them, not knowing it was her last afternoon, her last walk inside. Somehow, when you know it’s the last time it is just agony and beauty all at once.

IMG_9117We put Coco on some soft blankets my mom had laid out and we petted her while the vet gave her the shot that would relax her before the last shot. She struggled to stay standing but her body gave in and soon she  was down on the ground in my arms and in a deep sleep. My parents each had one of her front paws in their hands, my husband rubbed her sweet head and my arms cradled her neck and held her close.

Then she was gone, she was gone but we couldn’t stop crying or petting, kissing and hugging her dear little body. My dad and husband lifted her onto a cot and carried her to the vet’s car. My mom snuck in a piece of cheese & a chicken stick to go on the journey with her.

The car pulled away and the moments that followed were a pure panic inside of me, my friend was gone and I didn’t know what to do. What did the house even look like or mean without her? How could she be really gone? Who would love me like her?

We made pancakes (another of her & my favorite foods) and seemed to fall into stories about her almost immediately. We found ourselves laughing at the crazy things she had done, we were fighting to remember, to tell all and keep her alive. I found videos I had taken of her and was shocked to see just how spry, energetic and bouncy she had once been. She really had been so sick, the decline was just so steady that the true weight of it didn’t hit me until I was looking backward.

IMG_9794Coco circleWe’ve done a few things to memorialize her; we put a pancake and some cheese in the hole she loved to dig for lizards in, we had her cremated (part of the Lap of Love service), and I sent away to FeltPets for a custom felt sculpture. I sent in photos and answered her sweet and detailed questions and a few weeks later received this:

I still miss her, grieve her and think I see her around the corners of my parents house. Pet losses are rarely acknowledged for being as significant as they are. I know that I felt unable to share about it with close friends who either minimized or were afraid of my grief; someone said to me as I tried to show them a picture, “oh, it’s ok, I don’t want you to get sad,” and it stopped me in my tracks. I already was sad but they didn’t know that allowing me to talk would have been so much better than trying to “spare me”.

IMG_9115

on our last day together, enjoying some cheese!

I want to encourage any of you who have had pets die to share a tribute to your pet below, tell me some of your favorite memories with them or some of their funny quirks. I know you still miss them because I think I will always miss Coco. She was somehow more than just a dog, she was a kindred spirit and a true friend.

 

|| Share Your Story:

What is your experience with a pet dying?

How have you paid tribute to your pets?

By | 2014-06-25T20:43:50-07:00 June 25th, 2014|Ceremonies, News, Resources & Information|52 Comments

52 Comments

  1. Arlene Blix June 26, 2014 at 9:42 am - Reply

    What a lovely story and one that reflects the contribution pets make to our lives and how their loss affects us significantly. Thanks for sharing it!

    • Molly Keating June 26, 2014 at 2:57 pm - Reply

      Arlene,
      Thank you so very much for your sweet words, I always appreciate your point-of-view & encouragement!

      Molly

  2. Jeff June 26, 2014 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Molly,
    Your account of our dear little dog’s final journey with us is so well stated. You spoke for me some of the feelings I had yet to put into words, especially the conundrums of that final day. I knew too that it was time. That last morning, watching her struggle, I wanted that to be over for her. The problem was, it being over. We rail against death because innately we know it isn’t supposed to be this way. If the idea that “the circle of life” is the “way of this world”, “nature’s way” and all similar blather were actually true, death would not be hard. None of those sentiments are true and that is why death is hard. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

    So, I hope to one day see even those “insignificant” created beings that have shared themselves in different chapters of my life, will be in that place God has promised to prepare for us. I don’t think I want to be in an eternal state without a dog.

    I know this was hard for you to write. Thank you for doing the hard thing.

    Dad

    • Molly Keating June 26, 2014 at 3:05 pm - Reply

      Dad,
      Thank you so much for your thoughts – I’m glad this was helpful for you to read and that it spoke to some of your own feelings.

      Death IS so hard and it’s worse if we have no hope of reuniting with them. I am so with you, God created them for our pleasure, to love us and be loved by us.

      Thank you so much dad, you made this experience possible and it was beyond anything I could ever have hoped for.

      Molly

  3. Becky Finch Lomaka June 26, 2014 at 10:19 am - Reply

    Hi Molly,
    Thank you for writing such a lovely blog. I know it must have been very difficult to write this about your sweet Coco. I am not sure that you know this but I was not John’s first love…his first love’s name was Berkley and she was a beautiful lab/retriever mix. Eventually Berkley came to accept that I was in the family to stay and she quickly became my dog too. She was full of life, funny, and strangely terrified of water even though she was part lab.

    When she died, my husband was heartbroken. I had only seen him cry that hard when his father had died. We, too, had Berkley cremated. John still has her collar that he keeps as as a special reminder.

    Our pets are part of our family; the grief we feel when they die is very real and very significant. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Becky

    • Molly Keating June 26, 2014 at 3:11 pm - Reply

      Becky,
      The bonds these creatures develop with us are incredible and so much deeper than we tend to give them credit for. It’s amazing when an animal wants to be with us just as much as we want to be with them – it’s a relationship that is so simple and precious.

      I’m glad Jon had that relationship with Berkley and that you got to be a part of it. Thank you for sharing Becky!

      Molly

  4. Michael Thomas June 26, 2014 at 10:52 am - Reply

    We as a family have never been too big on pets, but my best friend always has about 6 dogs living in his house at any given time. When you spend most of your time growing up in a place like that, you become so attached to each one. I became one of those people to them where from the moment I opened the front gate, at least 3 of them would be quietly waiting at the front door for me to come inside. (Thats huge, because they absolutely lose their minds when a stranger approaches) I have seen so many of the dogs come and go, and each one hurts a little bit more as I have been more involved in their upbringing, from puppy to adult. I would always rather not see them go, but would I trade the joy they bring me in the 10-15 years they are around for the pain I feel of losing them? Absolutely not. Thank you Molly. Good luck with transitioning, and I hope this life has you find plenty more Coco’s. 🙂

    • Molly Keating June 26, 2014 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      Michael,
      Well said! Thank you so much for your point-of-view, I think it’s right on. The pain is so worth the joy and it always is, that’s why we risk loving and caring for others and for pets.

      While there will never be another Coco, I do feel certain that other kindred spirits will find their way to my home & heart, I hope the same for you.

      Molly

  5. Carrie Bayer June 26, 2014 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    Dear Molly, I’m in tears. Coco was such a sweet girl & I’m grateful I got to meet her. I absolutely love this deeply descriptive moment thought it is full of heartache. When it’s time for me to say goodbye to my next pet, I plan on doing it this exact way- thank you for the information! I remember having to euthanize my 17 year old cat, Kissy who was dying of kidney failure. On her last day, I set her outside on my balcony to soak up the sun & watch the birds. She lay there for a few hours, not moving. I knew it was time. I took her to the vet, they sedated her then placed her in my arms. She fought the sedation which was very traumatizing to me. The tech struggled to give the last injection because Kissy was fighting back. I felt like I was doing something wrong by holding her tightly for this. I still wonder if she was trying to tell me she wasn’t ready. Once she died, I held her & cried for what felt like forever. I had a hard time giving her body to the tech. I picked up her urn a few weeks later then buried her a few years after that. I still miss my sweet Kissy. XOXOXO, Carrie

    • Molly Keating June 26, 2014 at 3:22 pm - Reply

      Carrie,
      Kissy is very likely the absolute sweetest name I’ve ever heart for a cat – oh my goodness! I know how deeply you love and care for your animals and I know that your last day with Kissy was exactly what you and she needed. Coco fought us on the sedation too, I think it’s part of the animal instinct to struggle against death (it is for us as well but we fight so differently). I believe it was Kissy’s time, you spared her pain and hardship she didn’t know was ahead for her.
      I hope you find peace in your decision my dear, when you care for an animal you are taking charge of their needs and making the tough calls out of your love for them and that’s what you did for her – I think part of her struggle was not wanting to leave you <3

      Thank you so much for reading & loving my little Coco sculpture, I can't tell you how good it is for my soul to see others love and admire her.

      Molly

  6. Joe Lavoie June 26, 2014 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Molly what a caring story about your families love for coco , I too had my german shepherd jax and had to share the last day with him but I took him to the family vet and we spent that time together but under a different setting. I wished I had known now about the laps of love and I am sure I would have done that for jax. Thanks so much for sharing your story and now I know how I can make that time more meaningful for our current canine friends and easier for my family . Thanks again so much for sharing.
    sincerely , Joe

    • Molly Keating June 26, 2014 at 3:17 pm - Reply

      Joe,
      I didn’t know about Jax, what a great name! I’m so sorry that you had to put him down. We put my first 2 dogs down at the vet and it was so hard. It wasn’t any easier losing her at home but the comfort of keeping her home vs. somewhere she hated was very comforting.
      I’m glad you found this useful & brought back memories of Jax for you!

      Molly

  7. Mark June 26, 2014 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    Molly……your description of your dog was very touching….I was reminded of my own dog Suzy that we had to put down….one of the saddest days of my life….thanks for sharing your journey with Coco…it brought back great memories of Suzy…..Mark

    • Molly Keating June 26, 2014 at 3:13 pm - Reply

      Mark,
      Thank you so much! My goal was to give others time to remember their own pets and I’m glad this brought back memories of Suzy!

      Molly

  8. Molly Keating June 26, 2014 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    Oh momma,
    It was a labor of love writing this post – choosing the pictures was almost as hard as writing it. How do you encapsulate a life into 1,000 words, your favorite memories and looks in a few pictures? It’s agony to try and do but the sweetness of sharing the story helps.
    Thank you for feeling this was such an important thing to do. You were such a caretaker for her, quietly loving, feeding, cleaning and enjoying her crazy, narcissistic & broken-brain ways. She lived so long because she was in a home that cherished and cared for her like she had been there all along.

    I love how you loved her & want to thank you, with dad, for giving me such a precious and important day with her.

    Molly

  9. Lorna Johnston June 26, 2014 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    Thank you Molly, For sharing your very touching, incredibly heartfelt story of your life with Coco. I hope this this will come out right. I’m crying so hard I can’t see the keys.
    I have been through this so many times. I remember each and every time I have helped “my best friend” pass over. It never gets any easier. Praying each time I have been given the choice to make the right decision for each and everyone individually. When it’s obvious that they are in pain or become invalids. I pray I have made the right decision. God Bless all of my friends who passed over the Rainbow Bridge. Please wait for me. When it’s my time. I pray I have the honor of being reunited with you!

    • Molly Keating July 18, 2014 at 11:51 am - Reply

      Lorna,
      Bless you, I’m so sorry for the pain this brings up in you. It doesn’t ever get easier because we never love less. They are so dear to us, so very precious and so hard to let go of. I think one of the added stresses is our inability to talk to them and understand what they are in need of & how they are feeling.

      You are in my thoughts my dear and I am so blessed by your heart of love for your furry friends.

      Thank you for reading, crying & writing anyway : )

      Molly

  10. Christopher Iverson June 27, 2014 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    Hi Molly,

    Pets are nice…but you know me. I hope that your next dog brings you new joys, adventures and happiness.

  11. Mitch June 27, 2014 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Molly,
    Thank you for sharing your experience. Animals have a way of weaving their way into your heart. I’ve had my “puppy” for 13 years. I went through cancer and pneumonia in the last
    2 years. He is one of my kids and i can’t imagine being without him. My heart breaks for you. I know you will never forget her.

    • Molly Keating July 18, 2014 at 11:53 am - Reply

      Mitch,
      Thank you so much! I thought of you and your dog quite a bit as I wrote this and just hope that this day for you is still a very long way off.
      These friends of ours travel our roads with us without question, with licks and snuggles and an affection for us we never quite understand but need and appreciate so much.
      I so appreciate your kind words, thank you!

      Molly

  12. Amy June 27, 2014 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    Molly,
    Thank you for sharing your journey. It was so touching and it’s good to know there are others who valve their dogs like my family does. We are a family of pets. We currently have 5 Pug Dogs, 3 Boxes of Honey Bee’s and a Pot Belly Pig. They are part of our family. One of the hardest things is losing a pet. I haven’t figured out why but they seem to get in your heart and pull at those strings. They love unconditionally.
    Amy

    • Molly Keating July 18, 2014 at 11:58 am - Reply

      Amy,
      I think that’s it, it’s the LOVE. We don’t know how the can love us like they do – they are always willing even when we’ve had a terrible day or don’t feel ourselves, they love us. It’s something I know I feel I didn’t always deserve and it created a bond between us that felt stronger and better than my bonds with many people.

      Thank you so much for sharing Amy,
      Molly

  13. Elsa June 27, 2014 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Molly,
    Thank You for sharing you loss with us. It is so nice to hear of such a great tribute that you can pay to such a special part of your family. I think the felt pets is such a great way to pay tribute and still be connected to them in a very special way. I hope that this brings you comfort in the times that you remember the love you had for your dear friend.

    • Molly Keating July 18, 2014 at 12:03 pm - Reply

      Elsa,
      Thank you. it’s remarkable what a small piece of felt can do. Whenever I look up at it, the silhouette of her ears makes me smile and think of her – it’s just comforting and sweet to have around. I don’t feel like I’m constantly fighting to “remember enough” and I’m not beating myself up with guilt when I don’t cry over her. I’m remembering, I’m healing and it’s good.

      Thank you for reading, I’m glad you like the idea & see the value in these creations.

      Molly

  14. Erin Fodor June 27, 2014 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    Molly,
    Thank you for sharing your heart wrenching loss. I will soon have to face this with my doggie that I have had for 14 years. I got her right after my dad passed so I do believe this will be especially difficult. I am very glad you shared this information with us. I am interested in this service when the time comes.
    Erin

    • Molly Keating July 18, 2014 at 12:17 pm - Reply

      Erin,
      I am so sorry that this is on your horizon, but I am so glad that these services will be available to you and your family and your sweet doggie. This will be really hard and I am so sorry. You’re in my thoughts,

      Molly

  15. Joanna Ramirez June 27, 2014 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    Molly,

    What a great bond you had with Coco. I had a dog when I was young named Serena and she died. I don’t remember much just that my brother and uncle used to “sickum” on me when I was little. When she died I was little bummed so my gramps, brother, uncle and I and gave her a ceremonial burial in his back yard. It was nice.

    Joanna

    • Molly Keating July 18, 2014 at 12:21 pm - Reply

      Joanna,
      Isn’t it interesting how simple these memories are from our childhood? I think many people have the “backyard ceremonies” in their stories as well. I’m glad those sweet men in your life took the time to give Serena, themselves, and you a time and place to memorialize her life with you.

      Thank you so much for sharing,
      Molly

  16. Lori June 28, 2014 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    Molly,
    As I told you, I had to work my way up to reading this post. You know my Max and Bella are my children. At ages 6 and 7, I am already dreading having to experience the grief of losing them. I wonder which one will go first. I wonder if it is Max how Bella will go on. I truly could see her dying of a broken heart. They have been together since Max was eight months old and Bella was two months. Max has a selfish attitude that tells me he would not even notice she was gone. Bella on the other hand would be destroyed.

    It took me three years to bring Max home after losing my little Dudley. Dudley was a twelve year old, mini Yorkshire Terrier. I did have the “vet experience” with him. Sitting in the sterile office, holding him in towels as the vet administered the lethal dose. I do not know how I saw through my tears to drive home. Like you mentioned, the house seemed so different and empty. For months I thought I heard him whine at the door when I drove into the garage. I swore I would never own another animal to feel that pain again.

    As hard as the loss was, I am so glad I got my new pups. Life with them is filled with new love, fun and stories. I know that once they are gone I will not wait as long in between dogs. I will also always have two dogs so that they have company when I am at work.

    I am glad I read this while at work so the waterworks did not start…

    So sorry about Coco. You can show me pictures and tell stories anytime…. 🙂

    Love,
    Lori

    • Molly Keating July 18, 2014 at 3:04 pm - Reply

      Oh Lori,
      How sweet you are! Thank you for your sweet words. I didn’t know about Dudley, what a sweet name! Your experience is so interesting and I commend you on your bravery in giving pets a second chance – the joy you have when you share stories of Max and Bella is so evident. You were meant to have these sweet pups and they were meant to have you.

      Your days with them are many and this dreaded day is far off. I know in our profession though, it is ever on our minds. I hope that your perspective adds more preciousness to each moment rather than grief in advance.

      Thank you so much for sharing about Dudley and your bereavement experience with him. I would LOVE to see a photo of him sometime!

      Molly

  17. Neil June 29, 2014 at 8:38 am - Reply

    Um Molly –
    For most my life I have been in and out of dog therapy!!! You know I have been over compensating with three dogs for many years now. This tragic story goes back deep into my childhood, the Lilly death story. Need I say more? Lilly will live forever in our lives and in our hearts.
    http://blog.oconnormortuary.com/2013/04/you-killed-lilly-losing-a-childhood-pet/

    • Molly Keating July 18, 2014 at 12:30 pm - Reply

      Neil,
      I thought of you when I wrote this blog and of your Lilly story. These events change and shape us because the pet changed us so much. We aren’t the same person after we’ve loved and lost a dog. I’ve still never met your 3 germans but I’m sure I’d fall instantly in love with them. There’s just something about a dog that’s like getting a hug and being with an old friend in an instant.

      Bring on the dog therapy!

      Molly

  18. Neil June 29, 2014 at 8:38 am - Reply

    Um Molly –
    For most my life I have been in and out of dog therapy!!! You know I have been over compensating with three dogs for many years now. This tragic story goes back deep into my childhood, the Lilly death story. Need I say more? Lilly will live forever in our lives and in our hearts.
    http://blog.oconnormortuary.com/2013/04/you-killed-lilly-losing-a-childhood-pet/

  19. Jenn June 29, 2014 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    I’ve wanted to comment but haven’t been able to bring myself to read it. I knew when I did, it would bring me to tears and it did. I have only had my dog since April 25th. He is 5.5 months old and every time he has an irregular bm I fear the worst. I had this experience when I was little of putting my black lab Mindy to sleep and feel like I haven’t been able to get “that close” to a dog ever since. Now that we have this puppy, I am just so afraid of losing him. I cant imagine how much more love I will feel for him five years from now. I didn’t get it, the whole “dog people” thing until now. Now I am hooked, and its so much more personal than I thought it would be. Your words were so well written that it put me in that place that I never want to go but I feel for you, having gone through that. I didn’t realize there were companies that do that at home, that alone is such helpful information I will pass on to others who are facing the difficult task your family took on. Thank you for this blog Molly, Coco was a lucky pup! <3 Jenn & Luke (my crazy pharaoh hound)

    • Molly Keating July 18, 2014 at 3:08 pm - Reply

      Jenn,
      How wonderful that you were brave enough to open yourself up to love like this. It is no easy thing especially when we have pain in our past. I am so 100% sure that you will never ever regret loving Luke the way you do. Love him like crazy & your friendship together will have no regrets.
      I’m so happy you’ve joined the official “dog people” club, it’s impossible to leave it! Now keep posting pictures of Luke, I just can’t get enough of those ears!!

      Thank you for all your kind words, it feels so wonderful to be understood & empathized with so completely. I deeply appreciate it,

      Molly

  20. Kari Lyn Leslie June 30, 2014 at 8:55 am - Reply

    Molly,

    You’ve touched on something so sweet here. I have lost two pets in my life that I had an amazing connection with. One when I was 16, my first dog Brandy a beautiful Golden Retriever and one when I was 44 my chocolate brown kitty Toasty. I also felt as if we were kindred spirits. I had had pets and lost pets between the two, but none touched me and broke my heart as the loss of these two angels. Thank you for bringing this topic into the light, and allowing us to grieve with you. I KNOW exactly how you feel. For years after my parents put Brandy down, just the thought of her made me weep. And for 6 months after losing Toasty, my family couldn’t even speak his name. I can’t explain what it was other than the unconditional love and affection that they showed. They were different with me than with others. The connection was deep, as with you and Coco. Grief will wash over you like a wave, at first crashing into you when you least expect it, but then one day it’s just a warm gentle shore break and it feels so wonderful.

    I love you sweet girl!!
    kari

    • Molly Keating July 18, 2014 at 2:59 pm - Reply

      Kari,
      What a beautiful description. It does feel like you are wading in the out-of-control and frigid waters in the beginning, but now I can say that I am beginning to feel confident in my footing and at peace with the natural ebb and flow of life. She could not live forever, she lived that long and I am so blessed to have had that time. I miss her, but I don’t feel the desperate loneliness or sorrow that fresh grief can bring.

      Thank you so much for sharing about Brandy and Toasty – if they were kindred spirits with you they must have been wonderful indeed!

      Molly

  21. Shayna Mallik June 30, 2014 at 9:57 am - Reply

    Molly,
    What a great tribute to your loved pup. I am very much a dog person and understand how hard it is when they get older. I think what you did the last days and hours was perfect. I absolutely love the felt statue of your dog! I love the idea of having that as a keepsake for a loved family members. And to me that is what my dog and I know your dogs are to you, family members. Thank you again for sharing your journey.

    Shayna

    • Molly Keating July 18, 2014 at 12:28 pm - Reply

      Shayna,
      You are so sweet. I’m so glad you like the felt sculpture, I’ve admired them for so long but truly think that my “Coco” is the most perfect one that’s been made ; )

      I love that we are the same in how we view our pets and the large place they have in the family circle. They are truly treasures and forces of nature in our hearts and lives.

      I so appreciate your sweet words & support, thanks for reading!

      Molly

  22. Shasta Cola June 30, 2014 at 11:34 am - Reply

    What a touching blog, Molly. I can’t imagine what you are going through. Most of the dogs I have had in my family have been given away conveniently before they got sick or died, so I’ve never dealt with any of our dogs dying. I have seen friend’s dogs go through similar things, though. One particularly difficult to watch was my best friend’s dog when we were kids, lived to be 13, and during the last year especially was declining in health until he eventually died and was cremated. I could see how her and her family were really grieving that dog, and still haven’t had another one since. I lost my guinea pig years ago, and that was really emotional. For some reason, maybe because it was mine and my first one, it seemed like more than “just a guinea pig”, so I had her cremated and keep her in my room. Even when you don’t have animals very long, they can really leave an imprint on your heart. I didn’t have Tommy’s fish very long, but it was remarkable how much I grieved that little fish. Brett and I buried it in his backyard in a little box with his leaf hammock </3

    • Molly Keating July 18, 2014 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      Oh Shasta,
      What sweet stories. Your guinea pig (what was his name?) was so much more than “just” a guinea pig – every pet is more that “just” a pet – a least for those of us who love them deeply. Pets, perhaps Tommy’s Fish, also bond us to the past in some ways and when we lose them we aren’t just grieving them, but are also grieving everything and everyone they connected us to.

      Thank you so much for sharing your stories with me, I hope you found some comfort in mine.

      Molly

  23. Stacy June 30, 2014 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your experience and outlook on grieving for our most beloved pets. I agree that a lot of the time this grief is underestimated and not acknowledged by people. Reading your blog made me remember my wonderful little loves, my hamsters. It is so sad they have such a short life span but I know I provided a loving, fulfilling life for my little ones. I had them since they were babies all the way ’till the end. It was a painful time in my life when both of them died of natural old age. One died about 1 month before the other one. I was able to tell that the surviving sibling felt the absence of her sister. My grief was embraced by my family and I recall my dad helped me make miniature size caskets for them. I also gave them a proper burial and they both were laid to rest underneath a beautiful tree in peaceful grassy land. I will never forget my hamster and although many would think they are insignificant, they meant the world to me. I wish I would have known back then of the many things you can do when a pet you adore with all your heart dies.

    • Molly Keating July 18, 2014 at 2:56 pm - Reply

      Stacy,
      What beautiful tributes you gave to your hamster loves. I know it’s easy in hindsight to say, “oh, that would’ve been so nice to have done” but I hope you continue to feel peace about the burials and honors you did to your pets.

      Thank you so much for your words & for sharing your stories with me. I’m so glad you were able to care for them for their whole lives, what blessed little hamsters : )

      Molly

  24. Lauren June 30, 2014 at 5:00 pm - Reply

    Molly, thank you for sharing!
    This brought tears to my eyes and just broke my heart reading what you and your family went through on that day.
    Coco sounded like a sweet and loyal dog!
    I love the Feltpet and how the little Coco’s legs are crossed.
    I miss my little black cat Kuma. We only had her for a year but there are times when I think about him and his crazy cat ways!

    • Molly Keating July 18, 2014 at 12:26 pm - Reply

      Lauren,
      Haha, it’s the crazy-quirks that find the deepest spots in our hearts. I know Coco had some whack-a-doodle things she would routinely do or that I could nudge her into doing and those were some of my favorite times with her. Discovering their unique personalities is one of the most fun things about pets.

      I’m sorry you had Kuma (great name!) for only one year, far too short a time. But it doesn’t lessen the loss or minimize the relationship you shared. Thank you for sharing your story!

      Molly

  25. Rosemary July 4, 2014 at 12:10 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Molly, for sharing your experience.
    It must have been very difficult and painful for you to write about your beloved Coco. I know how heartbreaking it was to read. Your suggestions are wonderful, and I only wish I had known about all of this years ago when I too had to let go of my own treasured canine friend. I still miss him! But I’m sure many people will find this painful experience just a little easier with the resources you offered to them.

    • Molly Keating July 18, 2014 at 12:24 pm - Reply

      Rosemary,
      That certainly was the hope behind writing this, that other people would find comfort in these alternative options. I know I will do this for every pet I have and I hope more and more people will turn to this kind of experience.
      I wish you had been able to give this to your sweet dog, but sadly, I don’t think these services were options then and even now, I think their area of influence is limited. I’m confident that will change.

      Thank you for sharing Rosemary, I hope this blog also helped you remember some happy times with your dear friend.

      Molly

  26. Anne July 9, 2014 at 11:23 am - Reply

    Molly,
    You will never get over Coco’s missing spot completely. I know. I hate the fact that pets have such a shorter life span than we humans do. I have had to part with many pets in my lifetime because I have lived and loved for many more years. I always say “I can’t do this again…it was too hard. But then it seems there is always eventually another pet that I can’t be without. Our Molly died on 3/2, right about the same time you lost Coco. There was no hope. I woke up that morning to her being in complete paralysis in the back half of her body. The vet said that was all I could do. Another loss I didn’t want to face. Now there is just me, Bella and Sandee, a 20 year old cat who can’t live much longer. Each pet is so precious and we don’t want to lose them. When I listen to my videos from Lou, which I need to hear pretty often for comfort, there is Molly’s sharp claws on the hardwood floor, clicking in the background of what Lou is saying. I picture her walking around and it is bittersweet.
    Love you Molly
    Anne

    • Molly Keating July 18, 2014 at 12:48 pm - Reply

      Anne,
      We tend to have the ghosts of these pets in our houses for sometime. I know I’ve looked to see Coco around many corners and still think I can hear her at times. I’m so sorry that you have all of these griefs in your life and not just one, but two to grieve as you watch your videos.

      I’m so sorry Anne, I hope new pets will find places in your heart if you ever feel the need for another companion.

      All my love,
      Molly

  27. Fitz July 10, 2014 at 9:57 am - Reply

    Hi Molly,
    Great heartfelt blog. Coco will always live in your heart.
    We once had a pet bird, Skippy. While Kathryn and I never really became as emotionally attached as we are to our dogs, Skippy still made an impact on our family and taught a meaningful lesson. The day Skippy died, I told Kathryn I would bury him in the backyard, When I returned home from work, I began to dig a hole in the back corner of our yard. Teddy, our son who was maybe 7 or 8 at the time, came downstairs and asked what I was doing. I told him I was preparing a place for Skippy to be buried in the back year. He became very interested and asked, “Where?” I told him back by the jacuzzi and he became very upset and said he did not want him buried there. I was shocked because he had never really shown that much interest in Skippy but now I came to realize, at some point for this child, the bird was important to him. He lead me over to a lemon tree we have and point out exactly when he wanted Skippy to be buried. Teddy wanted to be included and be a part of the decision. It was a great lesson to remember to include those who have been touched by loss to be part of the process.
    Thanks,
    Fitz

    • Molly Keating July 18, 2014 at 12:33 pm - Reply

      Fitz,
      What a great story about Skippy! I think your story speaks to the truth that sometimes we don’t know the importance of the connection until it’s gone.

      I love that you had the heart and need to bury Skippy and then that you also compassionately heard your son’s need and participated with him in a very important moment. You didn’t minimize his pain, you acknowledged it, opened up to it, and then invited him to take an active part. Finally, you gave him the gift of peace by burying Skippy in a place that comforted him and felt fitting. Way to go! I love your story – there’s so much in it for parents to learn about how to help their child grieve.

      I so appreciate you sharing this!

      Molly

      Also, I think “Skippy” is probably the best bird name I’ve ever heard!

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