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How to Prepare and Cope With the Loss of Your Pet – Can You Give a Rescue Dog a Home?

Updated on March 30, 2017
Eileen Hughes profile image

Titan was the best friend and mate we have ever had. I believe it is because he was our first indoor dog. We miss him so much.

Dealing With the Loss of a Fur Baby

The loss of your best mate, friend, companion, and soul mate is devastating for any pet lover. There are no words to describe the great hole it will leave in your life. The house is so empty and quiet. People that have never shared the love of a beautiful friend may say “he was just a dog." That is not true. Our Titan was so loyal, and like many other dogs, I believe he would have given his own life to save ours.

The first time your dog becomes ill, you imagine the worst scenario. As you push this thought away, you believe you can cope if something goes wrong. When it happens, the realization that your wonderful friend has gone is unbearable.

Titan Loved Chasing his ball
Titan Loved Chasing his ball | Source

Our Personal Experience With Titan

Titan, our Blue Heeler, had several life threatening experiences over his fifteen years with us. He was poisoned twice. The first time was from a neighbors mouse that died from snail bait. The second time happened when he fetched a stick on the beach that the vet believes was used to stab a poisoned fish. He survived both times. A few years later, he had a lump on his neck caused by a grass seed. As it was on his jugular vein it took the vet four hours to remove. Luckily, it was benign, and it did not slow him down for long.

At thirteen he developed a limp. He would lift his foot and look up at us with sad eyes. One vet wanted to cut off his toe, so we sought another opinion. They suggested putting him on Meta-cam. This relieved his leg pain, although we found out later it had side effects.

Over the next two years, it caused a growth in his stomach. We had blood and urine tests every few months to keep an eye on it. His stomach slowly grew larger, and at the same time he suffered from degenerating muscle waste in his legs. We kept a close eye on this progress and knew he was not in pain. The vet said as long as he was eating, drinking and using his bowels and not in pain he was okay. He put up a great fight, until one night he lay down on the floor and looked up at us. We knew it was time.

We asked the vet to come to our home, to avoid extra stress for him. He lay on our bed and looked up when they entered the room. When we were ready they let him go to sleep. My husband and I did not know he had gone as he never moved and was still looking at us. He was at peace. The vet later told us that he had an internal bleed.

Titan Relaxing on Camp Chair
Titan Relaxing on Camp Chair | Source

Hardest Decisions to Make

As we travel a lot we did not want to be separated from him, therefore we decided to have him cremated, not an easy decision. Although, we decided that at least that way we can take him with us. When we lost our sixteen year old cat we buried him in our garden. Then years later we sold the house and had to leave him behind. Everyone has different ideas on this, choose what is best for you and your particular circumstances.

That was the beginning of our torture. The house was so quiet and empty. To make it worse the power company had turned off the power for the whole day to replace power poles in near by streets. The solitude, with no distractions was unbearable. We made ourselves go for a walk to get away from the home. For days we cried and remembered the good times. We went through years of photos on the computer of our travels around Australia with him. Each one held so many wonderful memories of trips to the beach, walking in the bush and exploring new places together.

Titan could not understand why this horse was different.
Titan could not understand why this horse was different. | Source

Could You Give a Rescue Dog a Home?

I always said because of our age that I would never have another dog. I understand that losing a beloved friend affects people in different ways. This article is not written to advise anyone on what is best. I believe that having another dog is a personal preference. It depends on how you feel, and your particular circumstances.

In our situation our daughter suggested that we need another dog for security when we travel. I knew if we did, it would have to be a completely different type of dog. Yes I love Blue Heelers or Australian Cattle dogs, but I could not face the thought of having another dog like Titan as I would always be comparing them.

We were in a bad way, and needed something to distract us. So I looked on the net at the different Rescue dogs available. Many of the dogs in these homes have behavior problems. Some have been ill treated or abused, which will give you more problems.

Looking at these unwanted dogs gave my husband a little hope and the motivation he needed to do something. He still looked at Blue Heelers, and I tried to steer him away from them. We thought about choosing an older dog, about four or five years old. Although the best of intentions do not always work.

Making the Right Rescue Dog Choice

We thought that a Kelpie would be an ideal size dog, although each one we saw was huge. We found a beautiful dog although he was too big and actually knocked me over so we had to take him back, which was not an easy decision. Finding the right dog to suit you and your particular situation is very important or it will cause more problems.

In the end we found a smaller dog. His mother a Boxer and father a Jack Russell. He is beautiful although he has a powerful D9 Engine beating inside his little chest. He has so much strength for a little dog that he can still pull us over if we are not careful.

Conditions for Adopting a Rescue Dog

All dogs have to be:

  • Micro-chipped
  • Vaccinated
  • Sterilised
  • Registered

In most cases the Rescue Homes charge a fee, the amount can vary between different homes and the type of dog involved in the adoption.

Our New Little Ball of Mischief
Our New Little Ball of Mischief | Source

Our Beautiful Rescue Dog Adoption

Our particular adoption cost us $450.00. This included his sterilisation, Micro-chipping, and vaccinations. As we live in the country we had to take Keizer to Perth (100k's from here) to have him treated. They told me the stitches were de-solvable. Although when we took Keizer to our vet to check him out, he removed the stitches when it was time as he said they were very tight.

So far, we have not regretted giving him a home as he has helped us cope with the loss of our beautiful Titan. Like I said earlier rescue dogs often have problems, ours was abused. When we brought him home he crawled on his belly to us. If we lifted our hand he ducked, or when he saw a man in the red or yellow coloured work shirts he would growl. Even if a shadow went over him he would cow down. It was terrible to see, and it made us closer to him because we understood how he must have been beaten. How can humans do this to harmless dogs. I would call them animals, but in fact, in my opinion, that would be an insult to animals. Human, is the wrong word for people like that.

It is now nearly four months since we lost Titan and we still have bad days. Keizer has definitely helped us through this time. We have just returned from another four month trip around Australia. And yes it was a big challenge. Titan's ashes have pride of place up in our van, and occasionally Keizer would go and have a little sniff at his wooden box. Which made us wonder if he knew something that we didn't.

I hope that all pet owners, really take a good look at their wonderful pets. Understand their needs and if ill or in pain, think about their feelings, not your own. If your pet is in pain you have to be kind and let them go.

Never hold onto them because you cannot bear to lose them. It is your turn to return the love they have given you by helping them.

Will you have the strength to do the right thing for your precious fur baby?

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Titan loved his yogurt and did many jobs for us like getting the mail and helping with the shoppingTitan sleeping like a baby.Titan loved the beach.This dog turned out to be too big and overpowering for us so we could not keep him as he would knock us over.Keizer, our new fur baby, has just been sterilized, so not too happy.Keizer resting up.
Titan loved his yogurt and did many jobs for us like getting the mail and helping with the shopping
Titan loved his yogurt and did many jobs for us like getting the mail and helping with the shopping | Source
Titan sleeping like a baby.
Titan sleeping like a baby. | Source
Titan loved the beach.
Titan loved the beach. | Source
This dog turned out to be too big and overpowering for us so we could not keep him as he would knock us over.
This dog turned out to be too big and overpowering for us so we could not keep him as he would knock us over. | Source
Keizer, our new fur baby, has just been sterilized, so not too happy.
Keizer, our new fur baby, has just been sterilized, so not too happy. | Source
Keizer resting up.
Keizer resting up. | Source

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    • Eileen Hughes profile image
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      Eileen Hughes 3 months ago from Northam Western Australia

      Thanks Peggy, you sure have had a lot of experience with having to say goodbye to your best fur friends. I have done it a few other times myself and no it certainly does not get any easier.

      Although years ago dogs were not actually as much as a part of our family as they are today. Most of them lived outside. Now many more live inside like our own children.

    • Eileen Hughes profile image
      Author

      Eileen Hughes 3 months ago from Northam Western Australia

      Tammy, yes I totally agree with you. Its been 12 months since losing Titan and I still miss him.

      Our Rescue dog Keizer has well and truly helped us and made our home his. He is a little rebel and races around the house as though has a bee in his bonnet. Our ground is very hard but he has left tracks in it the way he runs. He was a bit difficult at first because he had been beaten up and if we had anything in our hand he would duck and run scared. With our love and care he is over that now and just laps up getting up on our bed about 4am every morning and nudges himself under the doona too. It sounds silly but I still say goodnight to both Keizer and Titan every night. Will always miss Titan although it is much easier now.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      We have had to make that hard decision 6 times and I also accompanied my mother when she had to do it on multiple occasions. It is hard having to put a beloved pet down but it is the kind thing to do when it is time.

      We have also had abused pets and it took some time for them to trust people again. We inherited my mother's dog Skippy when she died and he was abused as a puppy. He still does not totally trust people and probably at his age never will.

      Getting the love of a pet is so wonderful. It would be hard not to have one around. They add so much to the quality of our lives and make us smile many times a day.

    • Eileen Hughes profile image
      Author

      Eileen Hughes 5 months ago from Northam Western Australia

      Thanks Tammy echevaria, I agree that we need to have a distraction, but it is so hard. As you say it is devastating to have to say good bye to a great mate and protective friend. And yes we love our new one and believe it or not I still call him Titan sometimes, I forget or it just slips out but he is great. He is so full of life and now we are teaching this one to carry the shopping in to house and take rubbish to the bin just like Titan did and he is learning. He is a bit of an escape artist and pinches off the cupboards when we not looking but we getting there. Thanks for commenting.

    • tammyechevarria profile image

      tammy echevarria 5 months ago from bloomingburg ohio

      I think adopting another fur baby after the loss of another fur baby is a must. Even though that fur baby is gone we as human still need to fill a void in our hearts and what better way to do it than adopt another. It doesn't mean that the other will be forgotten but it helps ease the pain of ur loss. I had to put my Lab/Beagle mix down last August she was 17 years old. It was a hard thing I've ever done but she isn't suffering anymore. The following month I found another fur baby who has helped me cope with my loss. He has become a big part of our family. So if ur grieving go adopt a rescue dog u will be surprised how much they help :)