The Day After Losing Your Dog

shadow box display to remember dog who died. Includes colar, toy, photo.

What To Do When Your Dog Dies

Yesterday I put down my 11-year-old Doberman. Her legs were failing her so badly that she could no longer walk without falling down.

I feel awful, but I know it was the right thing to do. And, as time goes by, I know my heartache will hurt less and less. Time heals wounds they say. But now that she’s gone, every time I see something that reminds me of her, my eyes well up with tears. I haven’t felt this sad in a long time.

I’m now undecided if I should throw out her favorite toys, and any reminders of her. I knew I didn’t want her cremation remains since it’s not comforting to me to have them in my home. I want my dog back alive, not her dead body’s ashes.  But I am thinking that maybe I should make a shadow box display, like the one above. Right after the death of a pet it might just be a painful reminder of my friend. But with time, I think it will be a nice way to honor the memory of my friend.

How To Cope With The Death

People process grief differently. What helps one person might not help another. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Here are some things that might help you heal and remember the memory of your dog.

  • Use grief counselors, pet loss hotlines, and support groups. There are lots of local or online support groups to help you talk through your pain. My article on Doberman cancer has lots of comments. I believe sharing experiences helps support each other.
  • Write a goodbye letter or poem to your dog. You can share a favorite memory, show gratitude, apologize for something if you feel guilt, what you loved about their appearance, how they changed your life, or just write about how you’re feeling at this moment.
  • Make a scrapbook. This might be a great option for children coping with the loss of their dog
  • Hold a “Remembering Fido” party or funeral ceremony. I think this would be especially nice if your dog was known to many people in the community, like a popular service dog.
  • Make a special memorial under a tree or special spot in the backyard.
  • Get an original piece of artwork made of your dog. Find an artist who’s work you love and commission them to paint or draw a favorite photograph of your dog.
  • Volunteer at an animal rescue. This might be a great idea or a terrible idea after losing your dog. You’ll want to honestly consider whether this will help or hurt you more.
  • Make a shadow box memory display. Include their collar, name tag, favorite toy, photo, something funny they destroyed, etc. 
  • Your idea?

Lastly, I want to end this post with a positive quote. 🙂 

dr deuss quote, don't cry because it's over. smile because it happened.

Don’t cry because it’s over.

Smile, because it happened.


How do you handle your pet’s death? Do you honor your dog in any special way?


30 thoughts on “The Day After Losing Your Dog”

  1. We lost our 22 month old Doberman to Lymphoma cancer yesterday morning. We are devastated. Our hearts are broken. He was my second Doby, and my husbands first. I had a female in the late 80’s, she lived to be 14.
    This time we got a male. He was awesome! I realize all Dobermans are neat and they are a special breed, but this dog was a character!
    We had just gotten him past the puppy stage and trained, and he’s gone.
    My husband is left wondering how a dog could get so deep into his soul. They are a wonder!
    I feel the only thing that can help is God’s grace and another Doberman!

  2. We lost our Gabby this past March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. We had her cremated and her ashes and pawprint are on our mantle and I love that (for me) I feel she’s still with me. I tell her Good Morning/Night and for me, it has made it easier. We have 2 other dogs and that also helped. I does get easier with time, but it is always there.

  3. Lost my Annie last night to degenerative myelopathy at age 8. Missing her so much today, she was a true friend in every way. J

  4. I had to let my dobbie go yesterday and it been the most painful experience I’ve had to deal with. He was 7yrs old and gone to soon. It’s been hard dealing with his loss an I’m constantly finding myself looking at old pictures and videos. I’ve looked into this same question on how to deal with this loss.

    • The only way I’ve been able to deal with any of my beloved dobies deaths is to adopt another dobie. As I adopt rescues, I imagine I’m honoring their memories, by adopting another rescue like them, and giving them the love and affection and attention they so richly deserve. (It’s not their fault at all, that they lost their last home.). I also think you (anyone) can honor their pet by getting another pet (not necessarily the same breed, or species).

      • We have lost seven of our dobermans over the years and each time our hearts have been torn from the loss. We now have a 4 yr old and a 8 year old. These are our last as they may out live me and or my wife. We have rescued the past six out of nine and that is rewarding as it gets to have saved a beautiful creature from uncertainty. I do understand your feelings,

  5. I lost my loving Dobie last Thursday even without diagnosing. Only what we knew is he had an issue in appetite and later passing stools. Treatments like enema and medicines couldn’t take him up but the most painful is doctors negligence. after admitting to the Sri Lankan veterinary hospital in Peradeniya he became a study material for the students. The Instructor cheated us on his death even giving false timing.
    I really missed my rocky and I can feel your feelings as well…

  6. We lost our 14 yr old boy Dobe yesterday. We r devastated. Trying to find a way to heal. This is our 3rd Dobe and losing our boy Reese has been the worst! He understood 3 languages and obeyed all of our requests. All he wanted to do was please and protect us. Sadly trying to heal our loss.

    • The only way I’ve been able to deal with any of my beloved dobies deaths is to adopt another dobie. As I adopt rescues, I imagine I’m honoring their memories, by adopting another rescue like them, and giving them the love and affection and attention they so richly deserve. (It’s not their fault at all, that they lost their last home.). I also think you (anyone) can honor their pet by getting another pet (not necessarily the same breed, or species).

      I’m so sick for you. It doesn’t matter how old they are. 💔💔💔💔💔

  7. How hard is this message to write … My precious puppy Jenson unfortunately grew a cancer growth and just stopped eating.
    I hugged him 24/7 at this time praying for a miracle. Jenson never complainec but I could see//feel his confusion as he just couldn’t understand what was happening inside him.
    We couldn’t understand either! Sooo, it was time for giving him up to heaven…
    LOVE YOU FOREBER …my Friend!

  8. We had to euthanize our beloved Nikolai yesterday. He was only 7,but had been diagnosed with an aggressive bone cancer a month ago. We are fortunate that our vet Cameron our home,so we could hold him through the process. We have a tradition of planting a tree to mark the burial.

    • I feel your pain my friends. I could write a book about our beloved Rommel who passed away this past June to liver cancer. It was absolutely devistating through the whole process of learning about his illness up until the end. My husband and I first met him when his best friend adopted Rommel as a pup. We fell love with him from the start, and as time passed and we moved out of town to 6 acres, it made more sense for his friend, who now had 2 young children and working opposite hours than his wife, that he find a better home for the guy. We adopted him in 2013 at the age of 4. He was a huge blessing to our family and a wondeful guard dog since my husband would be gone weeks at a time for work. He was relentlessly great with our small dogs and protective, yet gentle. He was spoiled, just like the rest of our crew and he slept in our bed every night. If he was outside, we were always with him and he had a special ordered coat when it was cold. This past year, he stopped eating… given we always fed him the best food (Fromme/ Acana)… and mixed it with eggs, etc, he had no interest. Obviously concerned, we took him to the vet and discovered his spleen was enlarged. It was pressing against his stomach which didn’t allow much room for food- which is why he wasn’t hungry. They did emergency surgery and once they opened him up, realized he had advanced liver cancer. They told us that regular checkups and blood test would have never revealed this condition unless they had a reason to test for it. After they completed this surgery, we basically brought him home, to recover from the initial surgery, and also to die.

      This is when we had to bunker down and become as educated as possible with his condition, and our options.
      We were told, given his condition and the advanced stage of his cancer, he probably had a month. We were in NO way going to pro-long any further treatments or proceed with anything that would cause him extended pain, confusion or pro-longed inevitable suffering or discomfort.
      We brought him home and prepared to take it hour by hour, moment by moment, and day by day. We pulled a mattress into the living room and slept there with him every night, holding him, and playing soft peaceful music. During this time our schedules were opposite so we were able to be there for him most of the time. This was a blessing (although up until this point was our biggest argument, as I was in between jobs and we rarely saw each other).

      That being said, he taught us so much during this very precious time of bucket lists, prayers, tears, and treasuring every moment knowing it was going to be short-lived and we would face that painful day.

      Rommel ate like a king- when he was able. The vet instructed us to give him whatever he wanted (within safe limits), so we ventured to Sonic on a daily basis and he indulged in plain double cheeseburgers. We spent a fortune on holistic pet products including goat milk, CBD oils, puppy food, recipes that involved his daddy grilling meats, etc, along with just about everything else we could find online.
      Our hearts were breaking but we were thankful for every good day we could have with him while we knew he was comfortable.

      As time has it, his time was no longer “quality,” and that’s when we knew it was time. He was ready.

      I could not have ever imagined the bitter sweet peace that God granted us in his passing, along with the days leading up to it- that my friends is a whole other story if you’re interested. I’m happy to share more!

  9. This is Gut wrenching just reading the comments. I lost my Dobie a month ago . he was 5!, Dialated cardio myopathy. He was my 2cnd Dobie. The 1st one also died from Heart disease too young!!I will never own any but a Dobie! Seriously, just looking at other Doberman pics gives me solice🐾💙😇. I will do the shadow box!

  10. I understand the pain and the loss. It’s been ten years since my beloved 16 yr old friend, a lady labmix named Ruby, found her final rest, and I am finally starting over. This time with a Doberman boy. I remember how hard it was to let go of my Ruby and even though I told myself I would keep a distance this time, I now realize that is impossible.

  11. just needed to say that Jaki we know what you are or went thru. 2 weeks ago we had to put down our dobie sheeba . she was 11yrs. old her hips went first then her front legs .she could not control her bowels. what hurt us was her mind was ok. but she was in pain . miss our baby so much. tears flow from me and my wife. love to all who have or will lose their love one.

  12. I had to put my beloved Boston Terrier of 9 years to sleep. It was heartbreaking. We didnt have time to think about it either. His condition came on suddenly, a mass on his heart that ended up bleeding into his pleural space. One day he was fine and the next he wasnt. It was shocking. I still miss him every day. He gave us the best of himself and for that I am so happy. Just let the grieving process happen. Dont be hasty in getting rid of your dogs belongings. The pain gets easier with time and you may be so happy to have those reminders. For now if it hurts too much to look at them, place them out of sight. Dont feel guilty about it. Your not trying to forget you are trying to get through it. I also didnt want ashes from my pet. I wanted him back alive but reality is as it is. I kept his collar, his toys and my dobie who I got a few months ago with the idea the two would be lifelong buddies is enjoying them and I know that would make my Boston Terrier happy. He loved playing. I intend to have a favorite picture of him framed with his collar hanging on a corner to hang in a nice place once the pain of losing him isn’t so raw. Its tough losing a pet. Good luck.

    • thankyou for the kind words. Now a month later, it’s a bit easier for me but I still get teary eyed if I think about her.

  13. We lost our Indy girl in March at 10 years old, our 4 year old blue girl is still sad so we are adopting a red girl in a few months. Indy was our 7th doberman our blue girl CeCe is 4 years old and is a rescue and she is perfect. We have had dobermans since the early 80s, we love them as family members.

  14. i just lost my baby a couple of months ago- it was so hard- i miss her so much- today i found out we were getting anouther doberman- i wasnt happy- I wanted Aday- not some new puppy- but i had to move on some time- rest in peace

  15. This has to one of the most hardest losses there could be aside from a parent and or child.

    Our loving dogs our like family to us, and for myself have become my kids.

    Love your shadow box and Im going to do the same when that day comes. My boy is 5 in August. He’s a biggy, 135 pounds of love.

    I can almost feel your pain just imaging the loss. Prayers for your healing heart. Viola

  16. It is with deep heartleft sorrow I leave this response. Take time. Take time to go through the process. I just went through this with my best friend. He brought several of his Devlin’s toys to my K9 daughter and he kept the collar. I saw my dobey playing with the ball that came from my friend’s dog. The ball was being rolled BACK TO MY DOG by an invisible force. I cried. I knew it was her best friend Devlin’s dog spirit. Your pooch gave you a great 11 years. You gave your love by ending that pain. Cry when the tears come. Let it out. Don’t harbor the sadness, it can consume you. I am praying for you. I am sad with you. And I promise to hug my Reagan even more today. You will know what to do with your baby’s personal effects in time. Just don’t rush this healing process. God bless you…

  17. Sorry to hear about your loss, we do get attach to our canine kids. Having gone through that repeatedly, I know time will ease the pain. Best wishes!

  18. Hey. eleven is a good run for a Dobe these days. Longevity in the breed is plummeting, thanks AKC, and we must open the registry. I’ve gone to a Dobe-Shepard cross in hopes of getting 15 years,

  19. Loosing your best buddy is a very sad day. You did the right thing and not let her suffer. I have gone thru that with 3 Dobermans during my life time. Everyone is different, but I always save all their toys because I KNOW I will be getting another one to fill the void. Puppies seem to love someone elses toys. I also save all of their puppy collars and leashes and reuse them as well. I feel comfort in passing on the best friends belongings to my little new best buddy.

  20. Firstly I’m really sorry for your loss. It WAS the right decision to stop your beloved dog’s suffering. I would suggest that you try to get out and distract yourself from all things dog for as much as possible for the next week or month. (However long it takes).
    Put all of her toys/things away in a box where you can’t see them. At some point you will know if you want to throw them out or do something with them. At some point you will know if you want to create a memorial for your dog. Everyone is different, but everyone feels such a loss and has to deal with it the best they can. xx


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