This isn’t the most fun topic to cover, but after losing a beloved family pet this weekend, I felt compelled to write about how to deal with the heartache that is inevitable when you have pets.

But first, let me tell you more about Misty. Misty was my family pet while I was growing up.

It all started when I was in the fourth grade and a friend of my dad went golfing. There was a stray puppy wandering around on the course. He caught word that she was going to be caught by the “dog catchers” or shot. He couldn’t let that happen so he easily convinced the small, fluffy, black puppy to come up to him and he took her home. His wife was not willing to take in a puppy, so, knowing I wanted a puppy so bad, he called my dad.

It was love at first site. I remember meeting her in his garage and she was so friendly and sweet. She knew how to sit and shake with just a few minutes of training.

misty

She came home with us on that foggy night, and that is how she got her name. With all of my fourth-grade wisdom and depth, I named her Misty.

Misty led a life running our farm, chasing birds and small critters and welcoming all who came to my parents’ house. She ruled the roost but she was gentle as could be. She was the kind of dog everyone hopes they end up with – well behaved without lots of training, gentle, intuitive, smart, athletic, loving, and sweet as any dog I have ever known. Misty was loved by our family, our friends, and anyone who visited our family home.

After 16 years, it was her time. We were all devastated.

How do you deal with this kind of loss?

Little by little.

It’s hard not to think about the end and how much you miss your pet, but remembering the good is the best medicine. Misty brought so much joy to our home and telling some of our favorite stories was therapeutic for my family.

If you have remaining pets, they are likely missing your late pet, as well. Spend more quality time with them and spoil them a little. It will help both of you get through.

Remember, it’s ok to hurt as much as you do. The first time I lost a pet, I couldn’t believe how deeply I felt the loss, but that’s normal. Ways to deal with this are to keep your mind and your body busy. Pick up an old hobby, go for a run, or write out a memorial. Any of these tasks can help your work through your emotions.

It’s going to be a process. It might hit you out of nowhere from time to time and that is ok.

Your home won’t feel the same and to you, it might feel empty. Adding a new pet right away is not usually the best decision right away. You’re emotional and making an emotional decision might not lead to the best outcome.

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