Coping With the Lack of a Pet*


Today was a sad day for our family.  We are coping with the loss of a pet that has been with us for almost 15 years.  Everyone had a different way of coping with the loss of a pet and this is how we handled ours.

The Entire Pack Taking a Nap Together.

It’s Been A Long Life

I purchased a female basset hound almost 15 years ago as a Christmas present for my wife.  Our son helped train her when he was still in high school.  

About a year later we acquired her brother from the same litter so then we had two bassets in our home. Another year or two later we added another sister from the same pack when my niece asked us to take care of her basset so now we had the triplets.  

Over the years we added more and more dogs to our pack.  About two years ago the other female basset succumbed to heart problems.  

Related: ‘How to Cut Your Pet’s Nails at Home (Including Tips for Nervous Pets)‘

Health Issues

A 14 and 1/2 year old basset is considered very old and with old age came various health issues.  In the last year there has been heart issues, problems with eye sight, and a general decline in health.  Medication helped make some of the problems better but they’re not a cure all.

Recently our little girl’s health had taken a noticeable decline.  Poor eating habits, incontinence, hacking, diarrhea, and vomiting.  Knowing how much pain and suffering she was in we called the veterinarian for one last visit.  Our veterinarian referred us to another veterinarian that provides home visits to make the final day less traumatic. 

Photo Collage of Our Little Girl Through the Years

Next to Last Day

When our other basset passed away we purchased a tree and buried her with the tree.  We are fortunate to have plenty of space for trees and it provides us with some comfort also. 

We spent the next to last day with one last trip to a park for a next relaxing walk. She really enjoyed getting out and being in nature one last time. It was very tiring for her but it really seemed well worth it.  We then went over to the local nursery and picked out a crepe myrtle as her resting tree.  

Brother and Sister Taking a Nap

Final Day

On the final day the entire family and the rest of the pack spent the morning saying goodbye.  Anything the little girl wanted she would receive. She had already stopped eating her favorites treats like hot dogs so we knew she was ready. 

The veterinarian arrived and after being introduced to the entire family and the pack we all sat down and the porch.  As a distraction from the first shot, the little girl was able to have her most favorite treats of all; M&Ms and animals crackers.  She happily ate her treats as the medication made her relax.  

After a few minutes and a final injection, she passed over the rainbow bridge and was no longer in any pain.  The entire family and her pack were there to show her love and compassion.  The veterinarian was so warm and comforting that even our very skittish German Shepard appeared relaxed around her.

Related: ‘14 Ways to Help Your Local Shelter or Rescue Organization Without Adopting‘


Coping with the loss of a pet can be very difficult. Whether you spend a short amount of time or even 15 years, pets can become very much part of the family.  

We chose to cope by trying to be as prepared for the loss as much as possible but that’s not always an option.  By doing as many comforting activities prior to the veterinarian’s arrival we were able to try to provide some closure for the family and the rest of the pack.

The Newly Planted Crepe Myrtle Beside the Other Dog Tree

Having a tree to take care of doesn’t replace the love we had for our pet but it does remind of the good times we spent together.  When I mow around the other tree I always say hello to our old basset and now she has her sister beside her. Coping with the loss of a pet isn’t easy but there are things we can do to make it a little better.  

About the Author

Michael Long is a retired military officer that usually writes about travel but has been spending most of his time lately cooking and gardening. He is also an animal lover; especially cats and dogs. Check out the latest on his blog, The Military Traveler.

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