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How to Deal With the Death of a Pet

Deborah Neyens is an attorney, educator, and freelance writer with a B.A. in political science and a J.D. from the University of Iowa.

In loving memory of Turley, January 27, 2001 to February 19, 2011

In loving memory of Turley, January 27, 2001 to February 19, 2011

How to Grieve for a Pet

A bond with a pet is a special thing that is full of love and affection. We give our pets a home and strive to keep them happy and healthy. In return, they give us unconditional love, companionship, and hours of entertainment. The death of a pet is the sad and inevitable conclusion of this special relationship. When you are faced with the loss of your furry friend, remember that you are not alone. Here is one dog's story, along with some suggestions to help you cope with the death of your own animal companion.

It was love at first sight

It was love at first sight

Turley's Story

Turley was my doggie soul mate, I always said.

I had no immediate plans to get a dog when Turley first came into my life. My brother called me one day to tell me that he came home to find his male hunting dog had scaled two six-foot chain link fences to get to his young female Labrador retriever the first time she went into heat (a testament to the importance of spaying and neutering your pets, which my brother subsequently did). The Lab was now pregnant. My brother wanted me to take one of the puppies, and I agreed.

Several weeks later, my husband and I visited eight newborn puppies at my brother's house. I set all of them, each no bigger than my fist, on my lap. While most of them squirmed around, one seemed to cuddle in as close to me as she could get. She had a distinctive mark—one white toe on a back paw—so I knew I'd be able to tell her apart from the rest of her dark brown siblings the next time I visited. And just like that, I had picked out my new dog.

Life of Turley

We visited Turley and her siblings every week until she was old enough to go home with us. She quickly grew into a 90-pound bundle of joy and energy. We took her everywhere with us—camping, hiking, and on canoe trips. She especially loved to swim and play fetch with her football.

She was smart, too. We suspected Turley's IQ was higher than the average kindergartener. She understood English so well that we took to spelling certain words around her, like e-a-t and w-a-l-k, until she figured out what the spellings meant. She knew all of her toys by name and would bring them to us one by one when we asked for them. She unwrapped her own Christmas presents. I taught her how to sing the Iowa Fight Song, to the delight of all my Hawkeye friends.

Turley had lots of friends—both of the human and furry varieties. People loved her. We never worried about leaving her when we travelled because we had so many friends and family members who wanted to watch her while we were gone. Animals loved her, too, and she had regular play dates with her many doggie friends.

We brought home a tiny kitten when Turley was a year old and she and Moe (the cat) became the best of friends and playmates. We added a second dog, Lucy, when Turley was eight, and Turley went through her second puppyhood playing with her new little sister.

Turley and Lucy playing in their pool

Turley and Lucy playing in their pool

Death of Turley

But all dog stories have a sad ending, and this one is no exception.

Turley had a cancerous tumor removed from her front leg in October 2009. Knowing a local recurrence was likely, we watched the spot carefully, but saw no more signs of cancer. Our vet was hopeful she was cured. Then, on February 15, 2011, we returned from vacation to find Turley with labored breathing. Medical tests showed the cancer had returned and spread to her lungs. A procedure to drain the fluid around the lungs allowed Turley to breathe easier, but as the vet gently explained, she had only a few days left to live.

The medical procedure cost around $300, but we thought it was worth it to have an opportunity to say goodbye, especially since we had just returned from vacation and hadn't seen our dogs for a week. Turley had a couple of good days following the procedure, giving us hope that perhaps the vet's prognosis was wrong. But by Saturday, February 19, she again was having great difficulty breathing. We knew the time had come.

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Turley was excited to have one last trip in the car and to see her friends at the pet hospital. But she was tired and ready to go. My husband and I were with her to the end.

A final family portrait

A final family portrait

Coping With the Loss of a Pet

Pets bring so much joy to our lives. That joy is bittersweet, however. Because the lifespan of a dog or cat is so much shorter than a human's, we inevitably will be faced with the day when we have to say goodbye to a pet before we are ready. It's hard to say goodbye, but these tips may help bring comfort in your time of loss.

1. Let It Be a Good Day

When you know the end is near for your pet, you are able to plan ahead. Spare your pet needless suffering when it no longer has any quality of life. When your cat or dog is no longer eating and shows no enjoyment in being petted, it's letting you know that it's time to go.

"Let it be a good day," the vet said when talking to us about Turley's end-of-life care. Take some time off work and spend it with your pet. If your dog enjoys a car ride, go for one last outing. One family of five took their terminally-ill dog for a trip to the McDonald's drive-through (the dog loved hamburgers) and a visit to the park before a final stop at the vet's office.

Ask if your vet will come to your house so your pet can spend its final moments in familiar surroundings with its loved ones nearby. Many vets will agree to perform this service for long-time clients. One couple I know arranged to have the vet come to their home when their college-age children were home for break. The whole family was together with the dog in her favorite spot while the vet performed euthanasia.

Plan to be with your pet at the end. It is difficult to observe the process, for sure, but one final gift you can give your friend is your comfort and support as it takes its final breaths.

2. Decide How to Handle the Remains

You may decide to leave your pet's remains for the vet to dispose of in a humane manner. Most likely, they will be cremated with other pet remains.

For an extra fee, you can have your pet cremated privately and the ashes returned to you to be maintained in an urn, buried or scattered as you see fit. Turley's ashes came back to us in a nice wooden box that sat on the mantle of our fireplace until the ground thawed in the spring. We then buried the box and ashes in a beautiful garden spot in the backyard.

If you don't want to pay for cremation, you may decide to retain and bury the body yourself. This is a good option for small animals, but becomes less feasible the larger your pet. Make sure to check for underground power lines and other utilities before digging and to bury the body deep enough so other animals will not dig it up. Also, check to make sure you are complying with any local ordinances and zoning regulations that may impact a pet burial in your chosen spot.

A more expensive option is to bury your pet in a designated pet cemetery. A pet's burial can be as elaborate as you like (and are willing to pay for), with options for caskets, grave markers and other memorials.

3. Let Yourself Grieve

When a pet dies, the grief you feel is real. Accept that you are grieving and allow yourself time to mourn. You may feel silly feeling bad when others you know are mourning their spouses, parents or children, or are facing their own serious illnesses. Stop right there. You have faced a real loss, too, and anyone who has been through a pet's death—and that's a lot of us—knows how you feel. If people are dismissive of your grief, those are not the people to be talking to at this time. Instead, seek out other pet owners who understand what you're going through and who will validate your feelings.

You may feel worse about losing your pet than you did when your grandmother or favorite uncle passed. That's normal, too. Your pet was a part of your daily life, and you will feel your furry companion's absence more keenly than that of a beloved relative you saw less frequently. Don't let guilty feelings creep in to make you feel even worse.

There will be good days and bad ones. One of the worst moments for me was the day I had to pick up Turley's ashes from the animal hospital. I sat in the parking lot for a long time telling myself I would not cry, and then burst into tears as soon as the receptionist greeted me with a pleasant, "What can I do for you?" Soon she and another woman working at the front desk were crying right along with me, telling me that's why they keep a box of tissues on the front counter. On those bad days, take comfort in the empathy of others.

Remember the grieving process takes time. "Firsts" are especially hard, the first time you come home from work and your pet is not there to greet you at the door, the first Christmas or birthday, the first anniversary of your pet's death. If you find yourself unexpectedly welling up with tears at odd times, even months later, don't worry. This is all a normal part of the process.

This garden stone, made the day before Turley died, now marks the spot where her ashes are buried.

This garden stone, made the day before Turley died, now marks the spot where her ashes are buried.

4. Plan a Fitting Tribute

Memorializing or paying tribute to your pet in some way gives you an outlet for your grief. Families with small children especially may find that having a memorial service for a pet, however informal, helps to provide closure for the youngsters.

A pet's funeral can be as simple as having each family member take a turn to share some thoughts or memories of the departed pet. You may also choose to play music or read a poem. The Rainbow Bridge is a poem that has brought much comfort to many a pet owner mourning the loss of a beloved friend.

Here are some other ideas for paying tribute to your pet:

  • Create a scrapbook or photo book. I spent the weekend following Turley's death creating a photo book with some of my favorite pictures. Another family I know created a special scrapbook in honor of their dog.
  • Create a garden stone. Before Turley died, a friend brought me a garden stone kit that I decorated with Turley's paw print and dog tag. Although she was a bit indignant that I made her step into wet cement during her final days, it made a great keepsake that we now use to mark the spot where her ashes are buried.
  • Keep your memories alive by creating a list of things you want to remember about your pet. As a family, take turns compiling and capturing all those special memories, whether it was a cute trick, a quirky trait, or a funny story. You'll find yourself smiling through your tears as the list grows longer and longer.
  • Write a story or poem in honor of your pet. It's no coincidence that I wrote Turley's story, above, on the first anniversary of her death.
  • Make a donation to an animal shelter or pet rescue league in your pet's memory. Perhaps there is no better way to honor the memory of your pet than by helping another pet find health and happiness.

5. When a Friend Loses a Pet

If you know someone who has lost a pet, don't hesitate to show your compassion and concern. Your validation of their grief will bring great comfort. Send a sympathy card. Give them a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear. Let them share their stories and memories about their pet. Share your memories. Let them know it's okay to be sad.

Here are things NOT to say to someone grieving the loss of a pet:

  • "It was just a dog" (or a cat, or goldfish or whatever). Don't minimize your friend's grief by suggesting the pet was anything less than a member of the family.
  • "You can always get another one." Would you say this to someone who has lost a child? Don't say it to someone who has lost a pet, either.
  • "Things will be back to normal before you know it." Your friend's beloved pet is gone forever. There can be only a new "normal."
  • "Don't be sad." It's normal to be sad. Don't make your friend feel worse by suggesting his or her feelings aren't valid.
  • "At least you won't have to clean up dog poop from the yard (or scoop kitty litter) anymore." You are trying to be helpful by showing your friend the positive, but remember this change in the daily routine can provide a painful reminder of the loss.

Losing a pet is never easy for anyone. It's a sad fact of life that our time with our furry friends is too short. Cherish that time while you can and celebrate your happy memories when your pet is gone.

Turley, gone but not forgotten

Turley, gone but not forgotten

© 2012 Deborah Neyens


Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 23, 2019:

I m so sorry for the loss of your pet. Don't feel guilty. You gave her the best life!

Nina Moss on December 30, 2018:

Hi, l was touched by everyone's comments on their experiences with grieving a loss of a pet. I needed to read these stories as l just lost my 15 year old pet cat, Sabra. I am feeling so guilty because l had to go to work (had to relieve night staff co-worker)and she died without me being by her side. I had spent a lot of time with her since we got her diagnosis of renal failure and cancer though. She went quickly which was a blessing, that morning l knew the end was near because she could hardlybwalk and she put her head down as l left for work. I'm so sad l wasn't there and can't stop crying!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on April 19, 2017:

Thank you for the comment, Minnetonka Twin. So sorry to hear about the loss of Joey. I hope you and Spooky have many more happy years together!

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on April 18, 2017:

Kleenex please! This tribute to your lab is truly a labor of love. Your dog looked a lot like my little Spooky who is now 7 years old. I so understand the pain and grief you talk of here as I just put my 15 year old, Joey the dog down this past August. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. God Bless you for sharing your dog story with us. Your dog was so lucky to have so much love.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on September 08, 2015:

Thank you, Kristen. It was a work of love.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on September 07, 2015:

Deb, this was a beautiful hub. Great work!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on December 31, 2013:

Thank you for your kind words, David. It's hard to believe it's coming up on three years since Turley left us. Wishing you a Happy New Year.

David Hunt from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on December 30, 2013:

Deb... I don't know what to say (what a silly thing to say in a comment)...but I must say something. I think everyone with beloved pets should read this. I'm a (somewhat) rational adult and some day we will have to go through this with our cats/kids. Until then, I'm in denial. But your hub is a beautiful and fitting tribute to Turley and pets everywhere. Gosh, I see I just repeated what Irc7815 closed with.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on November 20, 2012:

Thank you for your comment, lrc. I'll look for your hub about Chessie. I know how you feel. It's funny how now, almost two years later, some little reminder will make me tear up all over again.

Linda Crist from Central Virginia on November 17, 2012:

Deborah, I grieve with you over the loss of your beautiful Turley. I recently wrote a hub about my doggie soulmate, Chessie, the Chow Chow. I cried all the way through it's writing even though it has been many years. Your hub evoked the same reaction. I cried all the way through this hub. They, our four-legged friends, give us so much love with so little expectation of getting anything back other than food, shelter, and love. Humans could learn a lot from them. Turley was a beautiful doggie soul and you have written a beautiful tribute to Turley.

Nat Amaral from BC Canada on October 07, 2012:

Your welcome, and again, my condolences.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on October 06, 2012:

I want to thank everyone for the heartfelt comments, which brought tears to my eyes reading them. It's been 20 months since Turley has been gone and there are still times of grieving. And from these comments, it's clear how pets touch our lives in such special, wonderful ways. That love never does die, Craiglyn. It lives in our hearts forever.

Lynda from Ontario, Canada on September 30, 2012:

What a beautiful story and tribute to your beloved Turley. I totally agree. I still remember when I lost my Siamese cat over 20 years ago - she was a special friend to me at the time, and those memories never go away. I also believe animals have souls too, and that your Turley "will still be with you". Love never dies!

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on September 30, 2012:

Deb, so sorry for the loss of Turley. She was beautiful. I'm sure you have wonderful memories.

This is great advice for all pet owners. Our Shih Tzu is 10 years old and we know someday her time will come. Your hub will help us cope. Thanks for sharing.

Rema T V from Chennai, India on September 30, 2012:


This is a beautiful hub about your lovely Turley. Brought tears to my eyes. I don't have a pet, so I haven't grieved any loss but my heart goes out to you and all the pet owners who have lost their animal friends at some point in their life. Very touching story and excellent advice about offering words of comfort and empathy to others for their loss.

Shared and pinned. Cheers, Rema.

Dianna Mendez on September 30, 2012:

Sorry for your great loss of Turly. She was such a loving pet. I am still missing my cat that passed away three years ago. Your grieving suggestions are comforting and your advice on what not to say is wise.

James Kenny from Birmingham, England on September 30, 2012:

Brilliant Hub Deb, I'm sorry you had to go through that. I lost my Jack Russell Tess in July- I have never grieved so much in life. She was my best friend and soul mate. I've got her buried at the top of the garden, I put a stone slab on top of the grave and wrote 'Tess, my little squidge, I will always love you, Rest in peace, 1998-2012' Your hub was very, very useful. Just now I found a picture of Tess on the computer and put it as my desktop background. It felt so good to see her again.

Voted up etc. Thanks for this.

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on September 29, 2012:

What a beautiful tribute to your beloved Turley and your suggestions for coping with the loss of a pet were excellent and well presented.

Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful and interesting.

Also shared.

Nat Amaral from BC Canada on September 29, 2012:

I'm so sorry you went through this. Reading this made me cry because it got me thinking about my cat Shadow. She died a terrible will be 5 years ago this Christmas. She was my baby. Only a fellow pet owner can understand this kind of loss. My condolences. Natalie.

Mary Craig from New York on September 29, 2012:

I am having a really hard time right now...tears are flowing...I just finished reading Mary's hub about her Shih Tzu then I read this one. As I told Mary we had to have our 16-1/2 yr. old cat put to sleep almost a month ago and I can still feel that bundle of fur in my arms, so soft and so helpless, but it was time for her. She was deaf, had alzeheimer's,I don't think she was able to see to well and was beginning to urinate all over the house. In spite of it, she would try to run in the backyard, and so on. I don't need to tell you the pain of the decision to do the right thing. You have just gone through it with your beloved Turley, who was a beautiful dog! It is for their benefit that we have to put them to sleep but it is the hole in our heart that we live with. Remembering them and the joy they gave sometimes helps us through.

I voted this hub up, useful, awesome, and interesting and now I have to go find some tissues.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on September 29, 2012:

Our family is still in shock over the sudden death of our beloved Shih Tzu. I am sorry for your loss of your beautiful dog. We just get too close to our pets, and it hurts so bad to lose one.

I voted this Hub up, etc. and will share and Pin.

SkeetyD on September 28, 2012:

This was a great but heartbreaking read. The loss of a pet may seem trivial to non-pet people but for those who have loved and lost an animal, the pain of their death can cause a challenge

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on August 11, 2012:

Thanks, rcrumple. It's funny how her death still affects us. My husband was just telling me last night how he saw a picture on Fecebook that reminded him of her, and he got all choked up just telling me about it. She was a special dog, for sure.

Rich from Kentucky on August 10, 2012:

In reading this, I seemed to be going through a feeling of deja vu. I knew I had heard some of this before, but I didn't know where. The emotion was so great and the story so touching, I had to continue. A second ago, I went back and checked my hub. Yes, suspicions were correct. Yet, given the space here to truly tell the story gave it the tribute area it deserved. I'm happy I came here to read. It is truly a story that needed to be told, and you did so remarkably. Up & Beautiful!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on August 01, 2012:

Thanks, Jools. I have a ton of photos, and a few videos, too. She's buried under the bird feeders where she ran out every morning to chase the squirrels away. It's the perfect spot for her.

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on August 01, 2012:

Deb, Interesting hub, your photos of Turley are really lovely, it's nice that you took lots of them to look back on. I think the stone you had made as a memorial is a lovely way to remember her in what was probably her favourite place, the garden.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on July 30, 2012:

Thanks, moonlake. So sorry to hear about your Reno. I know how hard it is. I still feel Turley's loss even after a year and a half. Take your time with your story. It took me a year to do this one. Best wishes to you.

moonlake from America on July 30, 2012:

Your dog looks so much like our Reno. He passed away in June. We had hoped he could make it through the summer, but it just wasn't going to happen. I plan on writing a story about him but have not been able to yet. So sorry about your beautiful dog.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on May 16, 2012:

Thanks so much, weestro. It's hard to believe she's been gone for over a year now. But I am enjoying every minute with my other dog, Lucy. I appreciate the comment and vote up.

Pete Fanning from Virginia on May 16, 2012:

What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful dog, I'm sorry for the loss of your doggie soulmate. You have some great tips for dealing with the hardest part of being a pet owner. Voted up!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on April 27, 2012:

That describes my friend's guinea pig perfectly. It starts singing when she comes home because it's so happy to see her. It's very endearing.

Christopher Dapo from Morehead City, NC on April 27, 2012:

I used to have a guinea pig a few years ago! I had named him Mr. Guinea Pig and he proved to be quite a jubilent and vocal character! I may get another one some day, it's not a bad idea. Thank you again, Deborah.

- S.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on April 27, 2012:

Have you thought about a guinea pig? Another friend has one and it also is a very interactive pet.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on April 27, 2012:

My heart breaks anytime someone I know loses a pet, ananceleste, because I know how gut-wrenching it is. I'm so sorry my hub opened old wounds. When my 14 year old cat Ollie died, I took the rest of the day off from work and marked it down as bereavement leave. (Nobody ever questioned it.) But I just couldn't see going back to the office after saying goodbye to my little buddy. That was 8 years ago and I still miss him. Thanks for the vote and share.

Christopher Dapo from Morehead City, NC on April 27, 2012:

Thank you, Deborah, yes, our rat Norman got along with our little dog, Oreo, just fine!

The house feels a little emptier now, I may have to get a hampster...I've always adored rodents!

- S.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on April 27, 2012:

So sorry about the loss of Norman. I'm glad my article helped in some small way. By the way, a friend of mine has pet rats and I was surprised to learn how dog-like they are. Did Norman and your dog get along?

Anan Celeste from California on April 27, 2012:

For my family, our pets are our babies. Reading your article, and looking at the pictures of Turley opened wounds that I thought where healed. Not many people understands how your heart brakes when you loose a beloved pet.

Look I am crying like an idiot! Sorry. In our home when we lost our cat to an accident, we all were grief stricken. The neighbors thought that someone in the family had died of how my children and I were crying. She was and still is family. Six years later, we cant talk about her without getting emotional. Thank you for your hub. Voted up and sharing. Take care and I am sorry for your loss dear.

Christopher Dapo from Morehead City, NC on April 27, 2012:

Thank you Deborah for writing this wonderful hub, it just brought tears to my eyes. I have a dog who is like my kid and we are very close. Recently I lost a friend, a hairless rat named Norman. He was our good buddy and we miss him. This article you wrote gave us some closure and we sincerely appreciate it.

- S. and Chris

Audrey Howitt from California on April 27, 2012:

Me too! We are just headed out for a walk!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on April 27, 2012:

Thanks, Audrey. It was tough to write; I still miss my Turley girl every day. Enjoy every minute with Sasha. I hope she's with you for many more years!

Audrey Howitt from California on April 27, 2012:

What a great article! My Sasha is 9 now and I treasure the time I have with my senior dog---

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on April 15, 2012:

Thanks for your comment, aviannovice. It's amazing you had your dog for 19 years. But that must have made it all the more difficult because he had been a part of your life for so many years. Sorry for your loss.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on April 15, 2012:

A beautiful story that will be helpful to many. When I lost my Italian Greyhound, it was devastating, as I had him 19 1/3 years. Voted awesome.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on March 10, 2012:

Oh no! But I guess we all have to grieve in our own ways. Thanks for the recommendation, Vinaya.

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on March 10, 2012:

I will recommend this article to my little sister. Last time when our Tibetan Apso died, she cried and did not eat anything for two days.

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on March 09, 2012:

Thanks, Deb. Gizmo is a little dog, so I've hoping he's only lived half his life or less. We'll see. I just gave him a pat on the head for you. He appreciates it. :-)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on March 09, 2012:

Thanks so much, Vicki. I hope Gizmo is with you for many more years to come. My friend's dog just turned 13 and is doing great. Give Gizmo a pat on the head for me. : )

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on March 09, 2012:

Ah, Deb, you had me teary just reading this and thinking about losing my Gizmo one of these days. Like you, I didn't plan on getting him, but I just fell in love with him. He's my best little buddy. I dread the day he leaves me. He's 8 years old and so full of life, but you never know. A friend sent me Rainbow Bridge when my 11 year old cat died. It was very comforting. So many people don't understand how real grief is when a pet is lost. Thank you for sharing your story of Turley.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 27, 2012:

Thank you for the heartfelt comment, SanneL. Yes, I miss her every day, even though it's been over a year now. But I suppose it's the missing her that keeps her alive in my heart.

SanneL from Sweden on February 27, 2012:

So sorry to hear about your loss. To say goodbye is never easy. However, to give our pets the love, care and attention they so much deserve the last day of their lives, is a beautiful way to say farewell. This hub is very helpful with great advice. Turley was a very beautiful girl. You must miss her so. Beautiful, beautiful hub!! Thank you!

Gloria from France on February 25, 2012:

That's so sweet at least they are all together.

Take care and thanks for your kind words.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 24, 2012:

Hi Gloshei. So sorry to hear about your loss, also. Hang on to those ashes for however long you need to. What I didn't say in the article is that when we buried Turley's ashes, we also buried the ashes of our cats who had died 7 and 9 years earlier. Poor kitties; their ashes were in boxes in the coat closet all that time, at first because we weren't sure where to bury them and later because we kind of forgot about them. But now Ollie and Mugsy are buried alongside Turley in the garden.

Gloria from France on February 24, 2012:

Sorry for your loss they certainly do become part of your family. We had a black minature poodle and he lived until 10years, like Turley he had a tumour but attached to his ribs.

I still have his ashes in the lounge can't let go just yet.

This was a lovely well written hub and brought a lump to my throat,

Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 21, 2012:

Thank you for reading and commenting, randomcreative. Pets are such an important part of our lives that they deserve those tearful remembrances from time to time.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 21, 2012:

It is never easy to lose a pet, and I still tear up thinking about pets I've lost, too. Your suggestions are wonderful. It's so important to make their last day as good as it can be and to allow grieving afterward.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 20, 2012:

Thanks, Jenny! You were so good to Turley. I'll never forget you stopping by for special treats for her in those last couple of days.

Jenny McGinness on February 20, 2012:

That was a truly loving and well-written biography of Turley!!! Cleaning your home for 3 years gave me the opportunity of knowing Turley and see how special and lovingof a dog he really was! R.I.P. Turley........!!! :)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 20, 2012:

Sorry to make you cry, Gemini. I was a bit teary myself writing this. : ( But hopefully some of my suggestions will make a difficult time easier for you and other readers. Thanks for commenting.

Gemini Fox on February 20, 2012:

Very sad (made me cry) but very good suggestions, some I hadn't thought about ('make it a good day'). Also liked your tribute suggestions. Unfortunately, it's never easy.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 20, 2012:

Labs don't grow old and they don't feel pain. That's how Turley was able to hide from us the fact that her cancer came back until she was no longer able to breathe. She once ran through a barbed wire fence in her excitement to get to her favorite swimming hole and, despite the fact that her chest was ripped open and bleeding, couldn't understand why weren't letting her swim and instead were taking her to the emergency vet.

Arlene V. Poma on February 20, 2012:

I think the group, Blondie, was hot in the 80s? Or was that the 70s? I grew up with all these dogs named "Blackie," so are there are times when you just have to shake up the party. Labs never grow old.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 20, 2012:

Thank you, Arlene. It's great that you had Blondie for so long - 13 years is pretty old for a lab. (And I love the awesomely ironic name Blondie for a black lab!) Even though you know the end will come, you never really are fully prepared. But I'm with you, I will always have a dog in my life.

Arlene V. Poma on February 20, 2012:

Excellent, Deborah! Those photographs remind me of my black lab, Blondie, and she was with me for 13 years. I will always have a dog or two in my life, and the toughest thing to do is saying good-by when the time comes. Bookmarked, voted up and everything else.

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