Grieving the loss of a dog

Returning home one night, my husband and I were horrified to be confronted with white stuffing strewn all over. We realized our Tibetan Terrier, Z.C., greeting us with her usual enthusiasm, was unaware that what she’d done would involve a costly reupholstering expense.

Alone for a few hours, she’d obviously found a way to get the remainder of a baguette we’d left on the kitchen counter, buried it in the couch and then clawed through the fabric and Dacron filling we’d expected would last for decades. Her innocent face made it impossible to get angry at her. She’d been behaving like a dog.

Part of our family for 11 years, Z.C. hadn’t intended to destroy our furniture, just as she didn’t make a distinction between the antique rug in our dining room and a litter box. Having a dog showed me I had the ability to forgive.

When she died, my husband, son and I were overwhelmed by grief. I recalled that period of time when reading an essay by someone who’d had a dog euthanized and lamented that there are few ways in our culture to help with the grief.

Many are surprised by how serious a loss that is and may be embarrassed to reveal the depth of their distress. Dogs have become our companions, relating to us with unconditional love and affection. We establish an important relationship with them protecting us, just as we do them. It took losing Z.C. for me to appreciate how much of my daily routine revolved around her. My schedule included her walks and feedings. I never left her alone for more than a few hours and would, when possible, take her with us on vacation, choosing pet-friendly hotels.

Moved by the intensity of our grief, I was inspired to design the petURNity, an artistic cremation urn for pets with photos to keep the memory of our beloved furry family member with us in the home.