Saying Goodbye To A Pet Is Never Easy

my first baby

I lost my first baby, bandana boy, sooo sad.  The decision was hard.  And even though it may have been obvious, the loss of a pet is never easy.  I still remember the day I had to go back to NY to send my childhood dog to doggie heaven…..I was so traumatized by it all, I swore I would never get another dog.  Umm, I lied.  But, who could resist this adorable puppy (he is the one in the middle, and that is his mom and brother, german short haired pointers!)

I love puppies!

However,  that experience prepared me for this.  Helped me help my kids.  I made sure they each got to say goodbye and tell him they loved him.  As much as I tried to explain it, the young ones didn’t really get it all.  But they know he is NOT coming home.  They asked me “how is he going to get to heaven, can I go with him, and can we get a new dog?”  All of which sent my oldest into hysterics…because she gets it and was begging  “please don’t do “it” mommy”.  Eventually, thru the tears, she saw how difficult it was for (me and) the dog and as we had his “send off party” she started to come to terms with the fact that it was happening….now:(

The Animal Hospital was amazing on short notice!  He’s gone there since he was a puppy.  However, that doesn’t mean he always liked it…and as a matter of fact he hated it sometimes.  SO, I was relieved they worked it out so we could drive there with the dog on his bed in the back of the truck and they would come out and do it all right there!  No moving, carrying, NO traumatizing my dog.  Had no idea that was an option.  Things have really changed!  THANK you Dr. Smith!  It went SO much better than expected, I was a mess, but the dog was calm and at peace….which is ALL that mattered.

We’re lucky to have so many great years and memories with him.  I remember telling my mother I wish he could wear diapers, it would be so much easier, lol!  Obedience/social training with Capital Canines was a hoot, BUT he finally graduated, which is good beacuse he loved going to the dog park when he was younger…look ma, no fighting!  He dressed and enjoyed our annual Halloween parties and was a HUGE part of my life and our family for 16 years…a GREAT dog, protector, good listener, a friend, and was overflowing with unconditional love….always knowing just when you needed him.

It is so quiet, an eeryfeeling, I don’t like it.  I keep looking for him…omg, the loss of a pet is hard, takes time, and really hurts, no matter how many times you go thru it!

Bandana Boy

Love you buddy,


Do you have a pet?  Lose a pet?  How do you say goodbye?  How can you prepare?  What is your favorite memory?  Favorite picture?  Any advice on preserving the memory (for young kids)?

About Rita Brennan Freay

The journey of a 1000 miles always ends with a dirty diaper. Headmaster of a self inflicted international preschool & visitor center compassionately changing kids lives, one diaper at a time.
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42 Responses to Saying Goodbye To A Pet Is Never Easy

  1. Rita, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. The most difficult loss of a pet that I ever experienced was when my beloved Mandy (an absolutely gorgeous, lovable cat with a bit of a wild side to her) disappeared. We live in a rural area near a state forest. There is also a coyote problem. As much as we tried to keep her in, this is a wonderful area for animals and cats always run free. She always came in at night but this one time, she never returned. The hardest thing was not knowing what happened to her and letting my imagination go wild. Good for you for sending off your beloved bandana boy with your children. You all had a chance to say goodbye.

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Oh, I am sorry Sherryl, that is sooo sad and a hard way to lose an animal:( Always searching and wondering….can’t imagine. Sending you a big hug:)

  2. Trish says:

    Rita, I was trying to avoid reading this one but finally got up the nerve to do so. I’m so sorry for the loss of your beloved Bandana Boy. What absolutely adorable pictures! I’ve lost many animals over the years and it is so hard each time. I can’t bear the thought of not having animals, though. The kids have all gone through the loss of our cats (we’ve had as many as five at one time) and last year we lost our beautiful Wizard (a terrier and llaso apso mix — such a sweetie). Months after, we lost a cat and now have a cat that is 16 years old and sick but stable. It didn’t help that we got most of our animals close to one another when they were puppies or kittens so, of course, they’re all entering old age at the same time! Note to self: spread them out a bit because losing them so close together is rough.

    Thank you for sharing your experience and how it affected your kids. You are such a wonderful mom, Rita — to both your animal children & human children. :-)

    caregiving. family. advocacy.

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Awww, thank you Trish!!! You made my day:) And thanks for the head up on the not too close together…never would have thought about that! Wow, you’ve had lots of loss too…not easy:( Hugs…enjoy the time with your cat:)

  3. Beth Brennan-Brandenberg says:

    OMG!! Like I haven’t cried enough!! Jeepers cats! I am a cat person ~ not too many cat people on this responses. My Bill got me Maui as a birthday gift, we adopted Halifax a week later. At 17 years old, Maui had a heart problem and I’ll never forget that car ride to the Vet’s office….I cried and snuggled her the entire way. I held her when she gasped that last breathe. OMG….then our baby Shelty….who loved Maui and every night did a cat dance with Maui while they waited to get fed….did not want to live without her Maui. She literally starved herself to death….she wouldn’t eat or drink…she would sit in front of her food bowl and drool and cry. We tried to feed her, but she would not. The vet kept her for a week trying to get her to eat and put her on intravenous to give her some fluids. She wanted her Maui. We took her home and after another week, the vet said there really was nothing we could do for her. He let me say goodbye, but because my husband was home sick and could not be there with me, I did not want to watch another one of my babies die. The one month before my husband died, I came home to find Halifax gone in the middle of my dining room. I thought I would die. I have four cats right now ~ ranging in ages from 7 to 12 years ~ and I dread the thought. OMG….this is tough. I send all my hugs and kisses to all the kids. Give a special hug to Sydney for me ~ tell her I love her and that Cosmo will always be her guardian angel. Love you guys and I really do feel your pain. They are family, even if they are four legged and furry!

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Aww you’ve done this alot! Hugs…and thanks! I will tell Sydney….she is getting better….when we get the ashes back I think I might lose it, lol! Working from home is hard now that I am reminded often because it is VERY quiet here…thank goodness for my class this week….and next month! YES, they are family:) ttys, love ya!

  4. Ok, I am sitting here sobbing! We had to put four dogs down so far in twenty years and it is never easy. We have their ashes in gold containers in my husband’s home office. The kids said goodbye to the last two – the vet came to our home to put them to sleep. It is so emotional and sad. My Jasmine (14 years old) days are almost up, too. Sniff, Sniff! There is always one blog that gets to my heart. You win that prize this week.

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Sorry sistah, you had to know we’d have one more thing in common, lol! Enjoy the time you have left with Jasmine….take lots of pictures:) So happy to hear that your vet came to the house…awesome! Cool a prize, hehehe.

  5. Now that I can see my screen again through the tears, I just have to let you know that I totally understand. Today is an anniversary for us and our two shelter dogs, Roxy and Charlie. Roxy is 14 today and we know that time with her is running short. Would I give up a single minute of the love we have shared? Rhetorical question. The circle of life is an amazing and wonderful thing. Painful sometimes, but that’s what makes us grow. Thanks for reminding me how precious our time is.

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Thanks Bill! I knew you’d understand….you are right I wouldn’t change a thing…not a single minute:) Sorry about the tears:(

      • Otubu says:

        Greetings, Jeannie I am thrilled that your skin is glniwog once again! I am taking your suggestion of larger sized bottles thanks for the idea. However, because the products are SO pure, only a dab is required to be effective. I am seriously considering adding 3 oz. sizes of each product because some people use more or less of them. I appreciate your taking time to share and for the wonderful compliments I have heard from many customers that using the GOLGI skin care system is just like getting a facial once a week! Warmly, Rita

  6. You trying to make me cry, Rita? I know I’m in the minority here, I’ve never had a pet. So I don’t have first-hand experience with this, but I do understand how close people become to their pets (especially dogs it seems). To feel unconditional love is a rare and beautiful thing. My heart goes out to you and your kids. (by the way, I love your banner….too cute!)

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Haha, yes I was trying to make you cry…..just kidding! It is a rare bond….wouldn’t change a thing…..just have to remember the pain is equal to the love…which is hard some days!!! My friend Wade made my banner and logo’s….glad you like it…he rocks:)

  7. As I sit here reading and then writing this comment I am looking at my two boys we call them The Boys a pure Golden retriever and an Aussi mix. They are as important to us as our kids, my wife and I laugh and joke about it but its so true dogs are the best- giving unconditionally always there to comfort us and make us smile. I have lost several dogs and know the sadness it brings. I love that your vet had the compassion and willingness to help you make the transition a little more comfortable for you and your family as well as the pet. Thanks for the moving read.

  8. I didn’t want to read your blog. I put it off to the end. I was never good with goodbyes. Still not but improved. And saying goodbye to a beloved fur kid is hard period. The only thing that gets me through it is knowing it is the best for them, that they won’t be hurting anymore. It doesn’t matter about my own needs. Theirs is all that matters. And both girls let us know when we took them in that they were happy and ready. Rather startled me. So the tears are flowing. I went through this in 2007 and 2008. I have too many memories of my sweet Ginger that make me laugh. And Chelsea was a pistol but I learned a lot from her. If she felt it was time for us to go to bed, she would take the toys Ginger and I were playing with and take them to her bed. She did that 3 or 4 times one night trying to stop us from playing but Ginger and I snuck another downstairs and played quietly so Chelsea never knew it!

    Julieanne Case
    Always from the heart!

    Reconnecting you to your essence, joy, vitality, youth.| Healing you from the Inside Out |Reconnective Healing | AgeLoc Skin Care | Pharmanex Supplements

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      I suck at goodbyes….but for some reason I was better than expected (maybe for the kids?!?!?). You’ve had some wonderful times with your babies:) THAT is what its all about!

  9. I so understand Rita. I can still go back to the day my Abby died in a flash. Just a second and I’m right there. My husband and I stayed home from work with her and pampered her all day. We knew it was to be her last day. We fed her all her favorite “human” foods we usually didn’t let her have (she loved popcorn, one of my favorite memories!). The vet came to the house and we got to hold her and say goodbye. Now you’re making me cry! It was such a hard day and a hard time and it was 6 years ago. You won’t be surprised by my answer on how to preserve the memory for a child – take these pictures and create a small album or make a photo collage and frame it. If you send me the digital images, I’ll do it for you. Then they’ll have something to look at and remember him by.

    Susan Berland
    A Picture’s Worth

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Thanks Susan…I may take you up on that! Really appreciate it:) I imagine we will feel this loss for a very long time:(

  10. OMG I knew I would bawl over this. I was away (nannying) when our childhood pets dies so was sad but removed from it but the very thought with my two dogs just has me in knots! How lovely that the vets did that for him though rather than making his last moments any more traumatic. I feel for you my friend.
    Louise Edington
    Breaking through online Frontiers

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Sorry Louise:( Can’t imagine being so far away…but my siblings weren’t there for our dog either…so they were removed as well….good luck with yours now, all I can say is enjoy and prepare….because it sucks when the time comes! love ya!

  11. Hi Rita,
    So sorry for your loss. Your beautiful tribute reminds all of us that we’ve all been there, too. Grief is the price we ultimately pay for our ability to love. We seem to understand this, yet we always dare to love as much as we can. It must be that we sense the rewards are far greater than the inevitable sadness. Although caring makes us vulnerable, it also makes us civilized. Thank goodness!

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      We always dare to go back…to love again…I am not sure why! As painful as it can be, it must be worth it….thanks for your kind words:)

  12. Donna McCord says:

    I couldn’t help but feel the emotions rise up as I read this…yes, losing a pet is one of the hardest things ever to go through. I have had to say goodbye to two very special cats I loved — one after about 14 years who became very sick with diabetes and had to be put to sleep, and the other I had only had for about 6 months and he suddenly expressed symptoms of a congenital disease for which there is no cure and also had to be put to sleep. I have never cried so hard! But in both cases I was able to find peace in knowing that they both had been so well loved while here, and I firmly believe that our pets will be there to greet us when we get to Heaven! The first kittie I had to say goodbye to, I actually had a dream where she came up on my bed to let me know she was all right, and that comforted me tremendously. I am so sorry for your family’s loss of a long time, trusted friend…to preserve memories, maybe putting together a nice scrapbook of photos that the kids could do themselves? I love how you were able to help your children say good bye to him and help them understand as much as possible what was happening. I hope you will one day be able to find another lucky puppy you can give a loving home!

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Awww Donna you’ve had your share of heartache. Yes, he was a true trusted friend and family member….I am glad my kids are doing well….my oldest is having issues, but that is to be expected. I am doing much better than I thought, maybe its delayed, or staying strong for her?! I do have my moments. A puppy someday….might be nice:)

  13. Hi Julie,
    I am not officially playing Blogger Monday, but saw your post and had to comment. I too lost my “baby”. His name was Spenser and he was a 16 year old Cockapoo. I had him since he was 10 months hold and I lost him this summer. The hardest part is that he was staying with my mom down south, so my goodbye was over the phone while my mom was at the vet with him. I miss him everyday, but everyday it gets a little easier. He will always be with me. My heart goes out to you and your family. Goodbye is not truly the end as he will always be with you and your family, in your heart and the happy memories you will always have of him.

    Tracey Fisher

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Thanks Tracey…not sure how but I am happy you found me and can relate…I really appreciate your kind words and heartfelt sympathy…it means a lot! Sorry about your loss too, can’t imagine having to be so far away and saying goodbye, it had to be so hard. I too believe it is not the end:) Thanks again for stopping by!

      • Stefania says:

        Attended the query writing Webinar that Sara pnseerted this past Thursday and found it wonderfully informative! It was so helpful to hear her speak about what agents are really looking for in a query so writers can better represent their work! So happy to have been a part of it! Kudos to Sara on her presentation, I could have listened to her for hours!

      • Gustavo says:

        Anon 1:26,Never fear! My first in-store signing srtetad out slow. I write fantasy but live in a town where the median age is 65 (not kidding). So I just got out in front of my table and srtetad shaking hands as they walked in. “Do your grandkids read Harry Potter? Oh, they’ll love my story.” Etc. So even if your shills don’t show up right away, you can create an audience/create some buzz around you and have a lovely signing after all.Sandy Lender

      • Sunny says:

        Vanessa if they get upset, just tell them, If you didn’t think you were fat, you shouldn’t have said that! Flat Coke I think we’re all a liltte anorexic these days.

  14. Pat Zahn says:

    As an adult I have lost 2 dog babies and one bunny baby (a couple dogs in childhood too.) It is never easy and it is hard to make that awful decision, even when you know it’s right. I’m glad you took a moment to reminisce about Bandana Boy, Rita.

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Thanks Pat…you’ve had your fair share….and understand the awful decision:( I appreciate your kind words!

  15. THank you for this precious tribute, Rita. My little dog Sparky died (had to be put down) last April. He was with my partner up in the country and we were on the phone together before and after, but I experienced such profound pain because I didn’t really get to say goodbye. He was a teacher of joy and acceptance and gave us many signals as he started his process of lettinggo. Even though I know it was his time, I still miss him. The day after he died, I felt him come sit next to me as I sat working at my desk. I felt the weight of his little body lean against my leg as he so often did in real life. These family members are such a gift. I read your words, am feeling with you with a wide open heart…

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Thank you so much…sorry for your loss too Vicki! I felt it more when I was not there too, which is why I decided to have my daughter participate. The pain is here but I am doing well considering! He was old, went from good to bad over time and to worse almost over night, so I was prepared but still never really truly ready. Animals are a true gift….and I have been blessed everytime:)

  16. Julie labes says:

    It is so sad to have to say goodbye to a loved pet. Our dog max was killed in a hit and run a few years ago. the kids were hysterical. We buried him in our garden and had a little ceremony…Our cat (max’s best friend) even came and sat at the graveside. We all got to say goodbye but it was still so sad.

    Julie Labes: The Fun-Loving, Feisty, Fearless, Frisky, Fierce Over 50 Traveler

  17. Oh Rita- You brought up so many memories with your post. I STILL miss my dog from over 25 years ago! She was part shepherd, husky and wolf who adopted me in downtown San Francisco and was the sweetest, most amazing dog ever. We’ve had several cats since then (never a dog), and while they were nice, they weren’t dogs. Since my hubby is not a pet person (he tolerated my dog since I had her first) and barely put up with the cats for my children’s sake, I can not and will not get another dog, let alone another pet.

    I lived in the (relative) boonies so my vet actually came out to the house and gave her a shot while I was sitting with her head in my lap. She just went to sleep as the tears flowed down my face. But she was a great friend to me and the kids and we learned many lessons from her (like your kids did with yours). I’m sorry for your loss but the gifts and good memories so far outweigh the loss over time!

    Candace Davenport ~ Little Books with a Big Message

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Awwww, hugs Candace….I was the same…holding his head while he peacefully went, and the tears just poured. They touch our lives in so many ways….blessed to have had them all (cats and dogs)….miss them like crazy, lol! Oh the joys of having pets, wouldn’t change a thing, and can’t imagine growing up without one! However, I doubt I will get another dog/cat…..anytime soon.

  18. I grew up with a cat and was completely devoted to her. When she died I was at college. My mother took her to the vet for the final step (she was horribly ill with kidney disease). I think it would have been so much better for me to have been involved. For many years I didn’t have a pet again because I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to be that close to an animal (and then have to face losing her again…) Happily, I now have a cat who is a major part of our household. She, too, has kidney disease, although I treat her with fluids and she’s doing well for now. I know some day I will be going through what you describe. It is part of life, and the losses are balanced by the many gifts of these treasured animals. Your children are so lucky to have you guiding them in this life lesson.

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Oh Judy:( My cat died while I was away at college too…and I always wished I had been there…I have to say having done both (being there are not) I highly recommend being there…even for the kids. I rememeber wondering how he was, where he was, and all those looming questions. My daughter saw for herself that her beloved dog was not in pain and went peacefully…which I hope helps her over time. It was so much better than I expected!!!! My little ones on the otherhand had no idea…paid no attention and are clueless, still.

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