Yesterday, my mom’s nine year old service dog passed away unexpectedly. He was playing with our other dog outside and slipped on the ice. He suffered from a spinal cord injury. Luckily, he passed away quickly and there was most likely no pain. My mom is having a tough time and I’m really worried about her-I canceled all of my classes today so that I could be home with her. I know that we all need time to grieve-he was an amazing dog that touched many people’s lives. I’m just worried about her.
Any suggestions on how to help cheer her up a bit?
This is very hard for me to respond to your sincere and caring question without breaking down into tears. You see, my Service Dog (Sara) was euthanized on June 15, 2010. She was 13 years old. She had what we believe to be a stroke. I provided all the care I could at hme, but she clearly let me know when it was time for me to help her cross the rainbow bridge. My daughter took pictures of me holding Sara before I had the vet put her to sleep.
Please, don’t try to cheer your mom up. That would be a very insensitive thing to do. It is important for her recovery from grief to have compassionate friends or family who will validate her feelings.
Your mom will hurt for a very, very long time. Grief and its stages does not have a time table. I can tell by your question you are a very concerned and loving adult child of this lucky woman. (Lucky to have known the love and bonds with a SD, and lucky to have your caring support.)
Things that were helpful for me were: telling my story over and over about Sara – how I got her, how she stole my gourmet chocolates, how she hated having her picture taken, how she was hurting before she died, and when it was time for me to help her die. I cried numerous times a day for weeks! My daughter took the time to listen to my pain and tears whenever I needed to talk about losing Sara.
I looked at all the photos I have of her frequently. My daughter is going to put together an album for me just about Sara.
Perhaps, you could make a tribute wall-hanging about your mom and her SD. Like a shadow box of favorite pictures… enlarge them and cut them as you see fit… her SD’s leash and collar …. maybe a poem or personal recollection of the SD.
It might be welcome to give your mom a special Journal to record her feelings. Give her special gel pens with many colors for her to record her memories and feelings.
Talk to your mom and reassure her she did nothing wrong, and what a wonderful steward she was for all those years with her SD. Tell her you will be there to help her through her grief in any way she needs you to help.
I can tell you that the pain of grief does get easier to handle over time.
Encourage her to talk to you and you are eager and willing to hear her memories and feelings over this wonderful more-than-just-a-dog.
Take her to lunch now and then. Bring dinners for her freezer. Take her grocering if it will be helpful.
Ask your mom what she would like you to do to help her through this loss.
Give her a card for someone whose pet dies… and write a letter in it about the cute and fun and silly things that SD did that made you laugh and smile…. or just make a card!
Remember, that the stages of grief are not constant, and can repeat themselves. Recovery will take as long as it takes.
If 5-6 months go by and your mom is stuck in deep stages of grief, encourage her to talk to her Dr. and consider getting brief therapy. Let her know her grief and reactions are totally normal and expected.
Above all, please let her know you love her very much and grieve the Service Dog’s death, too.
There’s normal stages of grief and she’s in the shock stage still: It’s going to take a few days to let her catch her breath and cry it out. She needs a bit more special attention because not only was this her beloved pet but also her medical aid. You might go ahead and start contacting agencies to start the ball rolling for a new service animal because as you’re aware of, it’s going to take some time and that will also allow her the time to grieve the loss of her other. Contact the place she got her other dog from and see if there is any of her dogs bloodlines available….this might also help ease the pain by getting a relative. Good luck and be patient. Also watch for emotional stress out of the ordinary grieving….needing aid already is stressful enough but now dealing with this can put some over the edge. She’s lucky to have a strong supportive daughter like you!
The unexpected death of any well-loved animal is a horrendous event. Having a Service Dog torn away from a person’s life can trigger emotions so strong and unsteady that internally, the handler becomes a combination of volcano, mudslide, and black hole. One of the worst things to do is try to ‘cheer her up’ She needs to grieve and she needs to know that you understand her pain. She has just lost a huge positive factor in her desire to remain independent. Help her do the things she likes, it’s okay to talk about the dog, but don’t go overboard. You may even want to have her visit with an understanding grief counselor or someone who has been in the same type of situation. One of my Service Dogs died unexpectedly just over 4 years ago. The best thing anyone did was say to his own dog:":Buffy, we can’t tease her today. She feels like I would if something happened to you.": In Loving Memory SD Sinful’s Summer Breeze ":Breezy": CGC JC-11/29/92-12/6/06 and Robert ":Bob": Barnard November 1931-June 28,2009
First of all, I am so very sorry for your family’s loss.
1. Remind your mom that this was a horrible accident and was not her fault In situations where the person
2. try to think of the tasks your mom used her service dog to help with and be ready to provide assistance for her with those things. Make sure to allow her to define how assistance is done and given.
3. Remind her of how loved her service dog was and the good memories
4. It’s ok to be sad with her
Finally I wanted to say most programs will bump a person who looses a working dog suddenly like this to the top of the list.
I am disabled and have a service dog. I can not imagine loosing him at all, much less unexpectedly. She just needs time and space. Realize that this dog did something for that she could not do because of her disability. Stress will make her disability worse, so she is likely to be more symptomatic and will likely need help with things that the dog did. Her doctors also need to be aware as the dog was likely part of her treatment plan and other things may need to be adjusted.
if the neighbor heard a yelp,then it might have gotten hit by a car or person. a dog as a puppy would get parvo. i have never heard them yelp before they had died of it. i am very sorry for the loss that you have. i worked at an animal shelter and never did i once hear one yelp just before passing of parvo. if the pet got hit too bad no one say it. there are strict laws about that.
Whenever I’ve lost pets I just wanted to be left alone. There’s no cheering me up. At least not for the first few days. I’ve just got to get through it on my own terms. Just be there to help her out and give her space for now. Be ready to support her when she’s ready for it.
I can’t get another animal that fast. That advice doesn’t work for everyone.
I’m sorry for your mom’s loss.
Talk to her about the good times wit the dog and funny stuff the dog did just try to make her laugh thats what we did when we had to put my pitbull down a few weeks ago….
Tell your well-meaning friends, ":If your favorite aunt died, would you want someone to help you go get another one tomorrow?":
Hug your mom. Again.