Pet loss and self-forgiveness

In past blogs, we’ve talked about how guilt is a major factor in pet loss grief and how guilt and regret can be hard to distinguish. Today, we want to go a step further and talk about self-forgiveness and why it’s so important when you’re grieving for a pet.

Our sense of responsibility towards our pets

People often compare the sense of responsibility they feel towards their pets with the responsibility of caring for a young child. Neither animal nor infant can tell us what they need and they are entirely dependent on us for food, shelter, safety and love.

As pet carers, we have the responsibility of advocating for our pets based on our instincts and knowledge at the given moment in time. The pet cannot give us their perspective.

What if we get something wrong? The emotional toll of a pet dying because of something we did or didn’t do is huge.

Sometimes we make tragic mistakes

Sadly, there are times when we make tragic mistakes in relation to our pets.

Perhaps we accidentally leave the garden gate open or pop inside for a wee while the dog plays near an open pond. Maybe we reverse out of the drive without seeing our cat asleep under the car or leave the dog’s collar on while they are playing unsupervised.

These small things can happen a thousand times over with no consequences but it can take just one moment, one unfortunate colliding of events, to turn your world upside down.

Of course, the truth of life is that accidents happen. We can’t plan for every possible outcome. If we could, our A&E departments would be practically empty. But the guilt can be overwhelming when you know that something you do or didn’t do directly resulted in a beloved pet dying or going missing.

Sometimes we miss a sign or make the ‘wrong’ decision

Another responsibility we have as a pet carer is to make decisions about our pet’s healthcare without being able to talk to the animal about their symptoms.

We have to decide when to contact a vet, what treatment plan to follow, whose opinion to trust, what symptoms to worry about and so much more.

As many of us know too well, there are times when our action or inaction can result in a pet’s death.

Again, the guilt is tough to manage.

Sometimes we do what we believe is right

Euthanasia is another factor in pet loss guilt. We talked in a past blog about many of the feelings pet carers experience after having a pet ‘put to sleep’.

You may be struggling to forgive yourself for having chosen euthanasia. You may believe you left it too late or acted too soon. Or perhaps you believe your pet was scared or felt betrayed at the end of their life.

Even with the knowledge that you acted in your pet’s best interest, coming to terms with actively consenting to end your pet’s life can be hard to process.

Why self-forgiveness is so important

What can you do when you know that you personally had some part to play – however unintentionally – in your pet’s passing?

As humans, we often have the desire to blame someone for tragic events, but what do we do when the person we want to blame is ourselves?

A lot of research has been done around this topic, although most of it relates to human bereavement or when a person goes missing.

However, there are a growing number of psychology professionals who recognise that pet loss can be just as devastating and result in just the same feelings.

The overriding research finding is that self-forgiveness is essential if you are to ever find some kind of peace about your role in your pet’s death. People who are able to practice self-forgiveness and self-compassion are associated with lower levels of emotional distress and are less likely to experience PTSD, complicated grief or depression.

But how do you practice self-forgiveness and what does it even really mean?

What forgiveness is and what it isn’t

Before we look at some tips for practicing self-forgiveness, it might be helpful to look at what forgiveness is as well as what it isn’t.

Research from Enright and North (1998) defined forgiveness as:

“A willingness to abandon one’s right to resentment, negative judgement and indifferent behaviour to one who unjustly injured us, while fostering the undeserved qualities of compassion, generosity and even love towards him or her”.

In other words, forgiveness is not about pretending that a mistake didn’t happen or glossing it over but, instead, choosing to show compassion towards the person who made the mistake rather than judging or blaming them.

In the case of self-forgiveness, you give the compassion to yourself. But how?

10 tips to help you practice self-forgiveness

The tips below come from a mixture of bereavement counsellors and individuals who have suffered a bereavement where their actions either directly or indirectly led to their loved one’s death.

1.      Embrace your guilt

Guilt is a distressing emotion, both for you and for the people around you. It can fester inside of you. People may tell you not to feel guilty, often because it’s an uncomfortable emotion to confront. But the truth is that this advice doesn’t really help. Fairly or unfairly, you do feel guilt.

Embracing your guilt isn’t about wallowing in it or letting it overtake you. This tip is about sitting with your feelings, as unpleasant as they may be. If you did something that contributed to losing your pet, it is helpful to acknowledge this and bring it out into the open by talking about it.

2.      Be specific about what you need to forgive yourself for

Guilt has a way of growing and becoming quite generalised. Left unchecked, it can start to colour the way that you see yourself.

A crucial part of being able to forgive yourself is being specific about why you feel guilty. For example, if you left your garden gate open and your dog ran out into the road, the thing you have to forgive yourself for is forgetting to shut the gate.

You didn’t wish your dog harm and you didn’t leave the gate open intentionally. What you did was make a human mistake.

3.      Think about your intention/motives

It’s important that you look at your intention or motives in the events leading up to your pet’s death.

  • What did you know?
  • Why did you make the decisions you did at the time?
  • Did you intend to cause harm?
  • Did you do the best you could do with the information you had?

The chances are that you didn’t do anything at all with malice or an intention to harm in your mind.

You may have decided to wait to see the vet, for example, because you didn’t want to stress your pet out unnecessarily in the middle of the night. You may have delayed looking for your cat because they had a history of disappearing for days at a time. You may have left the door open because you were distracted.

4.      Let go of feelings of shame

Sometimes, when we know we made a mistake with devastating consequences, our feelings of guilt can morph into shame.

Shame is defined as “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour”. It’s an emotion often rooted in the knowledge that you knew what you were doing was wrong at the time of doing it.

However, as we’ve seen above, it’s unlikely that you deliberately made a wrong decision about your pet. You did the best you could with the knowledge you had at the time.

Shame is a problematic emotion because it tends to lend itself to black and white thinking. Instead of recognising, “I did a bad thing or I made a bad decision”, shame leads you to believe, “I am a bad person”.

Self-forgiveness is about being kinder to yourself. You’re not a bad person. You did not intend any harm to your pet.

It’s okay to feel guilty. Guilt can help you identify mistakes and learn from them. Taking responsibility for your actions and their consequences is an important part of self-growth. Researchers say that feelings of remorse, repentance and a sense of being humbled are all a healthy way to respond to guilt in grief and to eventually integrate these feelings.

Where guilt is unhealthy and unhelpful is when it crosses into self-recrimination.

5.      Show yourself the same compassion you would show to a loved one

Sometimes, we hold ourselves to impossibly high standards. If a loved one had been through the same loss as you as a result of the same decisions/actions, what would you say to them?

What would it take for you to forgive them?

It’s likely that you would be far more compassionate to someone else than you’re being to yourself. You would probably look at the big picture and consider all the ways your loved one made their pet’s life a happy one.

Every time your critical inner voice starts berating you, try to stop it and reword what you’re saying with the words you would use towards a loved one in the same situation. How would you talk to your child, a parent, your partner or a best friend? Show yourself the same kindness.

6.      Guilt isn’t always rational

When a pet dies, it’s often as a result of unlikely circumstances coming together. This could be a cat running into the road at the exact moment a car was passing or a dog running into a randomly placed stick in the woods. Perhaps your pet managed to get trapped somewhere or caught by their collar.

While you may have taken the dog for the walk or put the collar round their neck, there is no way you could ever have predicted how events would collide and unfold. If only clairvoyance could be part of the pet keeping package!

Of course, just because guilt isn’t always rational or deserved doesn’t mean that you won’t feel it.

Again, it can be helpful to think back to your intentions and motives here.

You took your dog for a walk because you wanted to give them enrichment and exercise. You gave your cat a collar so people would know how to contact you if your furry friend ever strayed too far from home. You let your cat out because you wanted them to have a fulfilled, interesting life.

These are all good, loving decisions.

7.      Pay forward making amends

The real kicker when a pet dies is that we can never make amends to them for our role in their passing. If you want your pet’s forgiveness, this knowledge can be hard to accept.

One option is to make amends in another way, paying it forward in your pet’s honour.

For example, you could volunteer at your local animal shelter or make a donation to an animal charity. If your pet died in tragic circumstances that could affect other people, you could start an awareness raising campaign.

8.      Talk to your pet

Many grief counsellors advise bereaved people to talk to their lost loved one.

One way to do this is a variation of the popular therapeutic exercise known as ‘The Empty Chair’. In part one of this exercise, you imagine that your pet is sitting in an empty chair opposite you and you tell them all the things you’re feeling, including your guilt.

In part two of the exercise, you swap to the empty chair and talk back as though your pet is able to answer you. As you no doubt knew your pet to be loving towards you, the words you imagine for them are likely to be more loving and compassionate than you would otherwise choose to be towards yourself.

This can be a powerful way of offering self-forgiveness.

9.      See your mistake as part of the human experience

As human beings, we are all destined to make mistakes in life, some large and some small. And with each mistake we make, we face a choice. We can choose to stay stuck, reliving the moment of the mistake even though we are powerless to undo it, or we can learn as much as possible from the mistake and choose to use that knowledge on the rest of our journey through life.

If you said or did something that resulted in your pet’s death – or your inaction played a part – what can you learn from this? What will you do differently knowing what you know now? How could your experience help others? Could it make you a better pet carer in the future or make you more compassionate in some way?

10.  Actively choose self-forgiveness

Above all, self-forgiveness has to be an active choice. Every time, you fall into the pattern of self-condemnation, you will need to actively decide to interrupt your internal voice with more compassionate thoughts. At first, this will require a lot of conscious effort on your part but it should become more natural with time.

Conclusion

Self-forgiveness is not about claiming you don’t hurt or denying the part you played in your pet’s passing. Instead, it’s about choosing not to place blame and recognising that you never had bad intentions.

With time, self-forgiveness will hopefully enable you to remember your entire relationship with your pet rather than just the circumstances surrounding their passing from your life together.

Until that time, know that you’re not alone.

Very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support

53 thoughts on “Pet loss and self-forgiveness

  1. Sophie Tickle

    Thank you for this article, from the bottom of my heart. It’s been about 3 or so years since my beloved cat was tragically attacked and died from the injury she sustained. I feel a lot of guilt for not being as involved in her life – I lived in a different city and she lived with my mum. But my mum wasn’t very hands on so it was more my responsibility to make sure any odd behaviour etc was dealt with. Basically a neighbours cat, a male Bengal, attacked her one evening and she died after the vet had to put her to sleep as her injury was too bad to fix. When I visited her there were signs she was not at ease ie. staying away from the house, appearing on edge somewhat. And I knew of this cat that was large but I was unaware when I saw it that it was a Bengal – I wasn’t familiar with those types of cats, I just thought it was larger than usual cats. When I analyse everything ie. my cat urinating inside etc and not coming home every night (this is what my mum told me) it makes sense she was in a lot of fear …I made sure a cat flap was installed and thought that would help. I’ve reported the Bengal, spoken to the oweners of it after the attack happened, but it didn’t go anywhere. Bengals are legal and that’s that apparently and the vet couldn’t prove it was a Bengal that did it even though it was. It happened outside our back door and the garden has tall fences around it. It was the Bengal without a shadow of a doubt. The point is, I know self blame won’t change anything but my sense of responsibility and failing her is so so strong at times. Reading your article and articles like yours does help me to try and remember that I never expected her death to come about as a result of not paying closer attention to the signs of distress that is hindsight I know were there. I loved her, her temperament was absolutely wonderful, so sweet, patient, loving, and I hope that the other parts of her life made up for the last part of her life – I’m not sure if it was days or months, when she felt the panic and pain that she did.
    Thank you for reading this long post and again for your contribution to the bereaved owners of beloved pets.

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  2. Pamela Campbell

    I witnessed my wee man Tilly, my cat 11 yrs old .Been hit by a car in front of me ,tilly pulled his head away but car didnt bother swerve ,got the white side of his face ,He was still alive at the vets ,vet said severe head trauma prognosis wasnt gud I made hardest decision of my life to send him to rainbow bridge and I held him told him I loved him and I waz sorry I failed him, he had 1 tear run from his wee eye . I feel so guilty as i had seen him cross the rd ,something he never done , i told Tilly to get over home ,normally lets me lift him. But he playfully run from me into the path of a speeding car, it never even stopped.

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  3. Greiver

    Yesterday they killed my dog because I sidnt pick him up from the pound on time, It was my fault. I didnt know they were going to kill him, but I shouod have been there for him. I feel as if I will never firgive myself. He was my 10 year old sons dog. He had him since he was only 3 years old. How could I ever make peace with this. I let my dog and sok down.

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    1. Jenny

      I am so sorry for your tragedy. You didn’t kill your dog, the evil pound did. You had no idea they were going to do that, and they should not have!! Maybe you can start an awareness campaign and pressure the pound to become a no-kill shelter, like they do in all civilized places. What they are doing is very very wrong, this is not your fault.

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  4. Sad Cat Dad

    Firstly, I’m so sorry to everyone else that has shared. Times like this are never easy. I’m grieving the loss of my dear kitty. I can’t seem to find the words to describe the situation. She passed a few days ago. I knew she was dying but I wanted her to die at home because she seemed to fragile to even take to a vet. I’m worried that i may have caused unnecessary suffering by not having her put down. I know it’s irrational but it is really fresh. I miss her dearly.

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  5. Karen

    Thanks for this article. I know it’s a couple years old but I’m just finding it, as I see many others have. In 2004 my 4-year-old dog died after a weekend of being sick. She probably could have been saved if I’d taken her to the vet sooner. After all this time I think I’ve learned to cope with it, but there are days when I experience pangs of guilt as if it had just happened yesterday. My heart aches.

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    1. Jenny

      I am so sorry for your loss. You clearly loved your baby dearly, and you did the best you could at the time with the knowledge you had. We all can look back and see that we would’ve done things differently, hindsight is 2020 as they say, and we have all accidentally hurt others due to lack of our knowledge. I hope you can forgive yourself. You sound like an amazing person.

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  6. Jason

    Very helpful article. Thank you. I’ve been pretty relentless to myself, torn up with grief this week. My nearly 19-year-old cat was euthanized four days ago after I let her out on my balcony and she slipped her way through the railing and fell two stories. She used to always go out there but with her vision declining this past year I stopped doing so as much. While working from home I noticed her relaxed by the balcony door looking out the glass and figured I’d open up the door and let her get some air. Checked on her a few minutes later and saw her walking around out there. Should have brought her in then. Checked a few minutes later and she was nowhere to be found. Looked over the railing and to my horror she was laying at the bottom. Raced down there. She was conscious but still. In shock, I suspect. I put her in her carrier and raced to the vet. She apparently had a broken leg and internal bleeding. I’ll never forget she suddenly perked up and popped her head up and looked me in the eyes right as they started euthanasia. I so badly wanted to tell them to wait when I saw that but kept quiet. I talked to her and pet her on the head as her head lowered and eyes dilated a few seconds later. I’d give anything to redo that day. Shouldn’t have let her out there with her vision as bad as it was. At least not without better securing the area. Was planning on letting her go in a few months but didn’t want it to end like this.

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    1. Lisa

      Oh my gosh. As I read your post I am so heartbroken for you. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve been searching the Internet for a story similar to mine and I felt like I was the only who had this type of story.

      My husband and I are fortunate enough to be able to take in/adopt disabled, senior, hospice dogs and cats. We have (had) eight, all at some varying stage of life. We were so lucky enough to be able to adopt a 13year-old Yorkie who had lymphoma and was in Renal failure. He was our type of guy. And let me say this, we have had many amazing pets, and have had to make hard decisions by knowing when the time comes to help of our fur babies across the bridge. From the minute we adopted Pip, I knew it would be especially difficult when when it was his time. He was like no other. During the nine months we had him he became blind, but he owned it brilliantly! Overall he was in good enough health still that he didn’t present sick at all. We previously adopted a senior three legged Chihuahua injured in the California wildfires. She has been my girl from day one. She is sassy. Pip immediately Bonded with her and I- then it became the three of us all the time. 24/7. I work from home it was always able to be with them. Two weeks ago my husband went on a business trip and I was up late cleaning. I laid down exhausted. Pip and Chloe snuggled by my side with all the others strewn all over the bedroom sleeping. 3 1/2 hours later I woke up to something that didn’t feeling right. I searched the bed – pip wasn’t there. He’s never gotten off of my bed. I searched the upstairs. I thought I would just find him roaming around. I got to the stairs and I just knew. There he was at the bottom. I rushed down there and his body was still warm. I don’t have any idea how long he laid there, without me. I think the fall broke his neck or caused a stroke. He was so still, So much different than his happy loving, goofy “normal” self. I could tell he was gone.

      I’m so angry with myself. How can someone who loves and cares about her fur babies not think about putting a gate up? I have three other blind animals. How can I let this happen!!? How can I be so irresponsible? I don’t know how to forgive myself. When I brought him home, I promised him he would not die alone. Not only did he die alone, I imagine he died scared. He had never walked around the upstairs by himself, he must have been so confused. I let him down. I failed him in the biggest sense of the word. I didn’t protect him.

      I don’t know how to move forward and continue to be the woman that has always believed that rescuing the unwanted or sick was the one thing i did unselfishly. What I could personally to contribute. I have so much grief and guilt and shame. . My heart is broken for my little buddy. I hope he hears my apologies.

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    2. Jenny

      I am so sorry for your pain. Tragic accidents happen, you were absolutely trying to make her happy, and had no idea that an accident was about to occur. (I had a similar scenario happen.)
      You were checking on her almost constantly, this shows how much you cared for her. You were right there for her at the end, and she probably perked up because the medicine they first gave her relaxed her (this happened with an elderly cat when we euthanized her, they gave her Valium at first and she actually jumped up and started walking around when she had not been able to at all, but it was just the Valium making her feel relaxed.) she knew you loved her and we’re right there with her. I hope you can feel comfort at some point.

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  7. Camille Sinclair

    See this post carries all the way to 2022. I’m so glad I found this as I’ve been devastated. My mom died 8 months ago and all kinds of things are coming up around pets I’ve had and felt I wasn’t what I am now to my pets. One of my pets, I accidently killed, she climbed under a recliner whose back liner was out. when I pushed it back I killed her and had music on so didn’t hear her. I was sedated for 3 days. That dog was everything to me. I came home one night to find my brother spanking my Chow Chow for pooping on the carpet. I made him stop but I’ll never forget how he looked at me. I’d bought him for my husband but my husband was not as good to him as I would have liked and I was working long hours. I eventually rehomed him to a loving couple. There are others but I won’t go into the situation. suffice to say I never intentionally hurt an animal and am a MUCH better pet mommy now. I have 2 cats and a dog(Chihuahua) whom I adore. Maybe too much, but I don’t care they are my babies. My goal is to adopt at least 5 more dogs from shelters and have them live on 5 acres with me. There are coyotes, bears, and cougars where I live so I’ll have to safeguard my home. I’ll spare no expense to do so. Animals are better than humans in my opinion. Thanks for listening. I’m going to practice self-forgiveness and have a lot of work to do. These tools will help me. Blessings to all.

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  8. Leesha

    I accidently ran my poor Bella over yesterday. I got my son in his carseat and she must’ve slipped out the door without me realizing cos I had my son in my arms and the diaper bag..I backed out and I felt it all. I didn’t realize what I ran over at first and I knew it felt different than anything I’ve ever felt while driving before. Never did i expect to see my dog. I’ve had her for 13 years. She’s seen me through my teen years into marriage and two children. How could I have not noticed she got out?! The guilt is…I cant even describe it. Ive never felt guilt like this before. This article definitely helped me. I feel im going to be rereading it a lot. Its probably what is going to get me through this.

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    1. Jenny

      Oh my goodness, you were juggling so many things, terrible accidents can happen, I hope you’re able to forgive yourself, you’re obviously an incredible loving person!

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    2. Betty Stubbs

      I read your story and I know how you feel. I ran over my 6 month old rescue puppy 5 days ago and killed him. All I can do is cry when I think of the sound, the bump bump as I rolled over him. I looked in my side mirror and saw him flopping around and then get still. I am so overwhelmed with guilt and shame. The irony of it is that he was afraid of cars and would run and hide when one passed, but he ran to mine because he knew the sound and was happy I was home. I don’t know how to process this – I killed my puppy…

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  9. Edo Solomon

    Thank you very much for this important article.
    Sending my love to everyone who googled this topic and found this page.
    Iv’e been grieving for 2 years already for the death of my 14 yo beagle-lab. There was a chain of mistakes made by me at the end. It was not just a momentary natural and forgivable lack of attention as many described here but ongoing errors, one after the other, all made by me.
    In April 2020 Sam started to have a cough. A few partial coughs like something is stuck and then – 4th or 5th was a complete cough like whatever was stuck got clear.
    I took him to the vet. After describing the problem and without looking closely at a my dog, the vet said he needs to have an x-ray under anesthesia and a blood test. I told our vet that before causing any discomfort or risk (from anesthesia) to my old dog I wish he would rule out the possibility that a syrup or some other easy treatment can’t cure him. The vet said that the only procedure that is relevant is the one he suggested.
    So I took my dog to get a second opinion.
    I went to the vet who was the tutor of my current vet, over 10 years ago. I explained how I wanted to cause my dog the least discomfort possible. He said that x-ray should be done but no need for anesthesia or blood test. I agreed. After check up he prescribed steroids. It was working, the cough stopped. But 2 and a half months under the medication and Sam was losing muscle mass rapidly. Shocked by his appearance I stopped giving him the steroids immidietly(!!) Soon after he stopped eating. I went to the vet and he ran a blood test, my boy’s liver was in bad condition and the options were to do a complex treatment which would require a daily visit to the clinic and somewhat unpleasant treatment or to euhanize him. I asked the vet what he would do if it was his own dog and he said the second option would be best. I agreed.
    I felt almost nothing when he was receiving the lethal injections. I made myself so prepared for his passing away that it felt like I was watching the event from a distance and not actually involved.
    When I arrived home, I realized what a thing I did. I’m devastated since then. I have flashbacks of those final days and the dreadful mistakes I made.
    1. Not allowing him to have a proper diagnose.
    2. Not being aware about the importance of a blood test at senior age.
    3. Giving him steroids without googling and checking properly all the side effects and risks.
    4. Stopping the medication suddenly (!) Without consulting the vet.
    5. Putting him to sleep.
    I don’t know how I will ever forgive myself.

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    1. Jenny

      I am so sorry that you feel horrible guilt. To be honest, I don’t think you made mistakes. Definitely had your babies best interest in mind and did not put him through the pain of blood testing or risk of anesthesia. It sounds like the steroid treatment was working well, although a side effect can be loss of muscle mass (sometimes there is just no ideal choice, and relieving the cough was more important than preserving muscle I’m sure for your baby). The liver issue was probably unrelated, many elderly dogs developed liver problems. You have to remember that you did all the best choices with the information that you had at the time. You were also able to relieve your baby’s cough, which I’m sure was distressing to him. You probably gave him a longer life and better quality life. I hope you can find peace at some point.

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  10. Victor

    I had to put two dogs down in the same day I could have saved one but financially it was too much I could have put it on a credit card but I chose not to in the last year I had to put down two other dogs all about the same age they were all around 12 years old the guilt from putting the last two down is overwhelming one was in pretty bad shape the other one I could have saved but it was financially bad for me look at her eyes when they took her away is and was unbearable I don’t know if I can ever forgive myself some days it’s so hard to deal with I won’t even go in my backyard because it’s too lonely back there at one time all four used to sleep in my bed I really miss that being alone without my poodle pack I’m just so lost I had my kids their whole life all of them for 12 plus years I just don’t know what to do the house is so lonely without my little friends I don’t know if you ever post this but I think I needed to write it down I have tears running down my face as I’m talking about this all four of my girls were Pound puppies I will cherish every memory of them forever I have no regrets but sometimes the guilt of putting an animal down and having to choose to put one down because of financial hardship it’s just unbearable I don’t know if anybody will ever see this but thank you for letting me get this off my chest

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    1. Jenny

      I am so sorry for your losses! Please forgive yourself, give those beautiful puppies a wonderful life! The last pup would’ve been very lonely as an only dog after being in a large pack, he/she was spared that, and you do have to be able to have enough money to take care of yourself, if you had not made that decision you would not have been able to take care of yourself or the last dog anyway! i’m so sorry that you were in that position, that is so painful. I wonder if some point you will be able to spend some time maybe volunteering at a local shelter? I wish you peace and good memories.

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  11. CMMG

    I’ve read through these comments, but I think I’m really truly guilty. 3 days ago I went out to check my mail & left my 4 month old puppy in the house bc I was driving to the mailbox. It was so hot in my car I figured I’d leave her inside the house bc by the time I got the car cooled down I’d already be back. I was gone 3 min maximum. She was very tiny, 2lbs. I used to take her with me EVERYWHERE. When I came back in she was whining, which she usually didn’t do as long as I was in her sight. I was sorting through the mail & noticed that she had started to go to the bathroom on the floor instead of her potty pad. I took her to her potty pad & was telling her to potty like a good girl on the pad. She knew the routine. She was typically excited to do this bc it always meant a treat. This time she was struggling to stay on the potty pad. I’m so stupid bc I thought if I got her to stay on the potty pad she’d get a treat & be happy. She liked to jump a lot & I told her no, & pushed her back. Her potty pad was in the corner. She fell back & hit her head. I picked her up worried she was injured bc I heard her tiny head hit. She was alive when I picked her up. I swaddled her in her blanket & talked to her with my hand on her chest to feel her heartbeat. Her heartbeat was fine, but suddenly it just stopped. I have told people about this, even professionals. They say they don’t think that a bump on the head would kill her & that it’s not my fault, but I know that it was. I was there & saw it for myself. I loved her so much. She literally went everywhere with me & did everything with me. I feel sick with guilt & grief. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get over it, & I’m not sure that I even deserve to. At night I wake up having severe panic attacks thinking I’m having a heart attack, & honestly I feel I’d deserve it if I did. I can’t do anything at all. All I can think of is her, the sound of her head bumping the wall, & knowing I killed her. I have so much love to give & I gave her all of it, but now… now I’ll never never get another dog, or any pet, so that I can’t make any kind of horrible mistakes that could injure them. Also, it’s a punishment to myself to never allow myself another pet. I feel like that’s the only way I can make up for what I did to my puppy.

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    1. Jenny

      I am so, so sorry that this horrible tragedy happened. I agree with the vets, I don’t think that you had anything to do with this. Sometimes little dogs can just have an irregular heartbeat that can happen at any time and that can happen from excitement or anything… And they can just suddenly die. I think you just happens to be there when this happened, and it was just a bad coincident that her head was bumped just before that. I know you’re not going to believe that because you’re feeling so guilty but these kinds of things absolutely do happen. You’re obviously an incredibly loving person, and I understand being afraid of ever wanting to take care of another dog, but perhaps you can volunteer at a shelter because you have a lot of love to give!

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  12. Maddi M

    My cat, O’Malley had died yesterday from the complications from a really bad upper respiratory infection. He went into hiding after I had tried to help him get his ears free of gunk and earwax. He was scared of me, so he hid. Under the bed, behind the tiki bar, which had a few storage totes. My mother had heard him snoring, which wasn’t a rare thing, but he wasn’t breathing right. My dad scooped him up, put him in a cat carrier and off we went to the vet.
    It was a hopeful visit. The vet gave him all sorts of meds to help him with the infection and his ears. But, about 15 mins after we came home and set him down to sleep.. I noticed his eyes were glazed and he wasn’t breathing. We should have looked for you sooner, and we wouldn’t be grieving.
    O’Malley, you were such a good cat, always cuddling up to me. I will never forget you. I love you.

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  13. Annette

    This is so well written and I desperately need to print it for myself. Is there a way I can do that? I’m not seeing any options to do that. Thank you so very much for writing this.

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  14. Marie

    Thank you so much fo sharing your stories. I feel deeply sorry for all your loses.

    Our beloved cat died in an accident a week ago.

    We did everything for him. At least that how we felt, because we considered his safety and wellbeing daily (when making decisions about buying something new, going somewhere). Catification of our new apartment was in progress, and the cat netting the balcony was scheduled in 2 weeks.

    Few minutes before he died we talk about closing the window because the day was windy, and I was afraid of a sudden air draught. Before I could do it, the air draught came and window closed on him, pushed him thoughr the windowscreen and he fell. And amongst other things you could have done different that day, I can’t forgive myself I didn’t closed that window right away, or called hie to be with us in the other room. He always came when we called him…

    He was an amazing cat. So smart! I’m sure he understood everything we said. He was funny, had all those cute quirks, he made the most peculiar sounds, he loved runnig around our new place (although we called it his place), incredibly gentle and beautiful fluffy cat.

    We miss him so much, we made a mistake, and it cost a life. It was so clear right after it happened,… My husband blames himself and I blame myself. In the past we lost people who were close to us, and what happened with him feels very similar. Our hearts are broken. And the worst part is that whatever we do now, we cannot change what happened.

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    1. Jenny

      What a horrible accident! You are obviously both incredibly loving, thoughtful, and careful pet parents, but sometimes crazy accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. I hope you will be able to forgive yourselves because this sounds like a freak accident, not your fault!

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  15. Maria Bergman

    My Kit was put to sleep just a few days ago because of a paralysis caused by a blood clot. He had heart disease. Saturday morning I found him unable to use his front leg and he was howling so loudly and long like I’ve never heard. Kit could be very fierce if being forced against his will and he absolutely hated the Vet. I gave him some Gabapentin to calm him before putting him in the carrier to take him to the Emergency Hospital. I told the tech and the vet that he could lash out a lot and about the meds I gave. When they were taking care of him he was screaming like I’ve never heard. I was crying it was so bad. They came in to tell me they were trying to put in an IV. I am so grief stricken that I wasn’t proactive and insist they give him more Gabapentin to calm him before causing him so much more stress. And I feel like I’ve failed him so. My poor little guy had to suffer so much at the end like that. I was thinking they must know what they’re doing. I am so upset with myself. When I finally saw him his eyes were rolled back and he was so still. And then they gave him the dose to stop his heart. This is so much not want I wanted for my Kit. I feel like I’ve failed to protect him at the time he needed me most. I don’t know how to get past this.

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    1. Mark LoGiudice

      My sad cat story is very similar to hers my baby boy cat Riley was put to sleep on September 4th of this year I didn’t realize he had heart arrhythmia and heart disease found out from the veterinarian he was already in late stages blood clot traveled out of his heart to rear left leg resulting in paralysis we were together over 8 years he was my life my world his needs came before mine always I love him so very much I don’t know how to deal with the grief and the guilt for my inaction I miss him so much I’m not sure how to forgive myself I am taking full accountability I have to we were very close he was my emotional support soulmate I had him cremated on September 6th and brought his ashes home on the 8th my life is so empty now I did a lot of crying September
      October November it’s tough trying to have to deal with this so much overwhelming guilt I’ve never ever meant for this to happen still having a tough time moving on I will always love and miss him forever what a tragic mistake on my part.

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  16. Aster

    I am so sorry for all of your losses, my heart goes out to you and I hope you can find peace from the guilt. My sweet little pug died this week, she was ten years old and I’d had her since I was eleven. She was my mom’s dog originally, she had always wanted a pug and the two of them were inseparable through middle school, high school, until eventually my mom thought Puggy would have a much happier and more exciting life if I took her with me to college, since she was always working and leaving her at home. I adored her and spent every moment I could with her, I got her registered as an Emotional Support Animal so she could live with me and my roommates, she loved meeting new people and was very excited whenever we had company over, and everyone who met her loved her too. I cooked her meals and dressed her up in little clothes, I thought I was such a good pet parent for getting her up-to-date on her vaccines, and was so terrified of something happening to her that I took her to the emergency vet in a panic for a broken toenail. I took her with me on camping trips, to events, to the beach and the dog park, and introduced her to all my friends’ dogs, who she was generally indifferent to. (She preferred people.) I brought her with me apartment hunting and to hotels when I needed to travel for work. Ironically, me leaving her at home while I was at work would have saved her life. I would bring her to work regularly and leave her in my car, always very cautiously leaving the windows down, giving her water to drink as well as rubbing water into her fur to help keep her cool, and checking on her every hour. I knew that it was dangerous to leave a dog in a hot car, but every time I did it she was fine, so I let my guard down. I was running late to work, leaving from a friend’s house, I didn’t want to leave her there because I thought it would be rude to leave my dog unexpectedly at their house, and I had to leave at 5 am and they weren’t awake for me to ask. I left her in the car and took none of the precautions I usually did, including not leaving her water to drink. I checked on her on my break, and didn’t even let her out of her carrier, just made sure she still seemed okay, reached in and petted her little head and told her I’d be back later, didn’t get water, didn’t bring her inside to cool off, nothing. I stood there and ate a snack at my car and then left. truly don’t know what I was thinking. I’ve spent the last week reliving this moment, trying to piece together how I could possibly have been this stupid. I went back inside, and didn’t check on her for over three hours, during the hottest part of the day. When I came back out to my car and opened my passenger door to greet her, I realized with horror that she was lying there limp. Something was clearly wrong. She was still breathing, and I splashed cool water on her, panicked and drove her to the nearest emergency vet as fast as I could. By the time I got there, I knew she was gone. I was devastated. The vet tech and I cried together, I called my mom and told her what happened through sobs. My poor baby. She had so much life left in her. She was perfectly healthy and alert, zooming around like a puppy that very morning. The only sign of her age was her gray hairs. How could I have let this happen to my very best friend, who I loved so deeply? I had planned on getting her health insurance, so I could afford emergency surgery just in case she ever needed it. For as long as I could remember, every time I left her alone, I gave her a little kiss on the forehead and told her I loved her, just in case something terrible happened and that was the last time I saw her. I had even spent nights holding her and crying because I knew she’d have to go someday, and just the thought of it made me unbearably sad. I never imagined it would be so clearly and completely my fault. I pictured her dying of old age, me having to make the difficult decision to let her go because it was the most humane option, holding her in my arms and telling her how much I loved her one last time as she peacefully passed. I am now haunted by the image of her slumped in her carrier, dying alone and scared and in pain because I just couldn’t bother to get her water, or check up on her more frequently, or bring her inside, or leave her at my friend’s house, or drop her off at my mom’s, which was only 20 minutes away from my friend’s house. I couldn’t step away from my minimum wage job that I have grown to hate since this day. She deserved so much more life, and a much happier ending. I feel that this guilt is truly deserved, much more than any of the other stories I’ve read here, and I don’t know how I can move forward with my life knowing I did this to my sweet girl who loved me unconditionally and trusted me to protect her. I failed her, I failed my mom who trusted me to take care of her, I failed all my friends from college who adored her, and I failed myself who loved her more than anything else in the world. I wish I could have at least said goodbye and that I’m so, so, sorry, and that I loved her, but it was too late.
    After seeing my dad repeatedly adopt, neglect, and rehome or accidentally kill pets, particularly dogs, I swore I would be the most loving and attentive pet owner I could, and that if I ever made that horrible mistake, I’d never let myself get another pet again. I feel horrified that I have witnessed a pet die from neglect and still let this happen the way it did. If I had one wish, it would be to go back to the morning of that day and leave my poor Puggy at home.

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  17. Aubrey Tamon

    Thank you for this article. Today I accidentally stepped on my 5 week old kitten. She was beautiful and special, she’s smart and really kind. She’s sweet and playful. She’s the offspring of my older cat and I made this mistake. I don’t know how to kove forward without her especially that I am the reason for it. It was an accident, and definitely unintentional. I wish she’s still here. I love her so much and I still have her 3 beautiful siblings with me (from the same litter). I still have 10 cats and Inwill do everything to take care of them especially her litter. In honor of her. I love her so much and I miss her. And I still blame myself. The wound is too fresh… I don’t know how I can live with this fact.

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  18. Alex

    Thank you so much for this article. It really helped me. Our beautiful cat Floki fell from our balcony on the 7th floor 2 nights ago because I left the door open (the blind was fully down and I didn’t notice the screen was also open). We (especially me) will miss him forever and feel guilty for a long while but I loved what you said about just allowing yourself to feel the guilt and paying it forward. We will get a new rescue companion for our surviving cat Kenji and do our best to give them both great lives.

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  19. Rachel

    I am beyond broken. My beloved bunny has died. And it is my fault. I cannot even begin to explain how much pain I am in. I was looking for my rabbit and lifted up for couch and didn’t see her. Not knowing she was under there and she got smooshed when I set the couch down. Found her later and absolutely lost it. I don’t know how to move forward from this. She was my absolute best friend. I feel so bad , I have so much guilt . I just want to go back and take
    It all back, how could I let this happen. How ?

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    1. Tyler Blanton

      I am so sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you. I lost my best friend Lui the bird as a mistake in my part also. I allowed him to be fully flighted and every time he was checked into his vet for boarding they would cut his wings short and he pulled all his feathers out as a result and then got a cut on his side and had to be put down.

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  20. Victoria

    My dog Rex was only 4months (Rott)…very funny and sweet little boy. The vet didn’t show up to administer his vaccine despite calling for two days, we checked with another vet and I felt it was expensive and my younger brother didn’t tell me all the information at the vet, it was our first time getting a dog, we didn’t missing a vaccine could be detrimental to his health. He contacted parvovirus we did everything to save him but he passed. I can’t forgive myself because I was trying to save some cash from the expensive vet. I killed my sweet boy😭😭….. Everything keeps playing in my head

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    1. Tyler Blanton

      Me too. I replay the sad part of my pet bird Luis passing, but what I am learning to do is to replay the beauty of him and all the things I loved about him and know that he lives on in your heart and is now in what I believe to be a heaven for all animals too

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  21. Tyler Blanton

    Thank you so much for writing this. In my pet bird Lui who passed, in his honor I donated a bird cage to the vet that he used to go to so that other birds can board and not have to have their wings trimmed. I have also learned from the mistakes I made and pray that there is more I can do to help in the future. Your words here make me want to go back to the bird vet and see if there is any way that I can be of help there. I also send prayers up to all the other pet owners and their pets who passed in a tragic way. I send prayers for my pet bird Lui in heaven every day I can

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  22. Tyler

    I want to share more about Lui the quality monk ice blue colored parrot. He was my very best friend and a very rare and super smart and loving bird. He loved to dance by swaying from side to side and loved to lick honey off my finger as a treat and say umm:)
    I got badly hurt physically in an accident and then had a surgery that did not go well and it caused me to distrust my family and loved ones. I allowed Lui to be a fully flighted bird, and he was even potty trained, would fly back to his cage to poop. He was the most loving and special creature I have ever known. One thing to know about Quaker monk parakeets is that they will pluck their feathers out of distressed or upset. Whenever I took him to his birds and exotic vet pet care to board they would always have to trim his wings in order to board him or any other bird. I didn’t get help from my family when I needed it and I instead boarded my beautiful and sweet tiny blue bird and as I left him to board he was afraid he was being a bad boy because he said as I was leaving him, “ Lui, good boy”
    I was in so much pain physically and needed help and a break so I just left him to board for a couple nights, knowing in my heart it didn’t feel right, but also mentally and physically exhausted from my injury and complicated surgery. When I went to pick him up, all his feathers had been plucked away and his body was bald and his wings trimmed short. It was devastating. I tried to help him by making a small sock sweater to cover his body and realizing he didn’t like that and he panicked so I cut it off, but it left a small cut on his body. I paid for the vet to stitch the cut and he just kept pulling the stitches out. I slowly watched him fading before my eyes- unable to ever fly and be his happy self and now with a cut to boot… I had to make the difficult decision to put him down. I could not even bare to be in the room with him while they put him down, I was in the lobby telling stories of how amazing he was. I miss him every day. I regret what happened to him and that I was not strong enough to ask for help when I needed it or to trust my family when I really needed them. I will now do more things in his honor after reading this blog that has helped me so much. But I still feel the pain and he loved me to his dying day- always lighting up no matter his condition when he would see me or hear my voice. I pray God in heaven forgives me and that my best friend Lui will find in his heart to forgive me and I pray to see him one day one the other side of the rainbow bridge.
    I love you Lui. Xoxox t

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  23. Frank

    My dog barrel died Sunday feb 5 2023 at 10:30am

    He had been sick with an ailment he had had several times before and I decided to monitor him and not go to the vet. Well he died in my arms, I watched my angel take his last breath 7.5 years old.

    I looked up the 24 hour vet and decided to wait because I didn’t think he would die. I feel so terrible, he needed medical treatment and I chose to wait and see. Please don’t make my mistake.

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    1. SB

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I did exactly the same with my 10 year old dog. She was my world. She had several bouts of gastroenteritis and one time wasn’t eating or drinking so I took her straight to the vet. She was put on a drip and came home and recovered well. The vet said it’s not so bad if they’re still drinking. Next time she was ill but still drinking I decided to wait to take her to the vet. By the time I took her she’d deteriorated so quickly they advised me to have her put to sleep. I am so broken, one silly mistake and my best friend and companion in life has gone. I feel for you, I know how it feels. We’re only human and thought we were doing the right thing at the time.

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  24. allison

    so sorry for everyone’s loss. I truly feel your words and know what your going through. Two nights ago my sweet boy was killed by a coyote. He was a little thing and truly felt like my child. A week earlier we had saw a coyote in our yard (this is highly unusual). Lived in this neighborhood for almost a decade and have never seen one before. I wrote it off as a fluke and just tried to keep a better eye out. Two nights ago it was really late and I let him out to pee. I didn’t stay outside with them like I ususally do. I went for a glass of water and when I walked back to open the door for him I heard him screaming. I ran screaming trying to get to him but the coyotes were so fast and by the time i got to the edge of the wood, they were gone and it was dead quiet. They had stole him. I have never felt this anguish and agony. I stood there screaming into the night. I felt like I wanted to die. I wanted to reach into my chest and rip my heart out. Maybe it’s not my “fault”, but it’s my mistake. One that can’t be fixed, I can’t apologize for, I cant correct it. The fact is, I should have been out there. I should have protected him. I should have known that an animal was stocking my dog this whole time. It’s been two days and I can’t even look at his picture. I hope he knows i’m sorry and I would do anything to take it back.

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  25. Arianna Monrose

    My dog, Isabella died 2 days ago on a Sunday. She was 11 years old.
    The Thursday before Isabella died, she got a terrible cough, this wasn’t her first time, this cough would go and come but this time it was the worse by far.
    We didn’t have the money or transportation to carry her vet at that time..so by Friday we realized that she hasn’t been wormed out for a while
    So on Friday night I gave my father a worm tablet for dogs, it didn’t have a label on it but I was sure that’s the worm tablet the vet gave to us.
    My father gived Isabella the tablet the next day (Saturday) and after a few hours, Isabella started to breath hard and fast, her tummy had gotten swollen as well.
    By time Sunday she still was in a bad condition and we didn’t know what to do (at that time we didn’t think it was the tablet fault). And in my country vets don’t work on a Sunday.
    By time Sunday afternoon, we witnessed Isabella’s death, it was a sad one. I feel like if I didn’t give that worm tablet to my father that day, none of this would’ve happened.
    Isabella would’ve still been alive, we would’ve still gotten to see her face and her beautiful eyes.
    It was NEVER my intentions for her to die, I give that tablet to her for it to simply fulfilled it’s purpose, to deworm the dog, nothing else.
    It’s been 2 days and everytime I wake up, I remember what happened and I just lay in my bed and cry, but I will learn to forgive myself because Ik what happened wasn’t with a bad intention.

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  26. Heather Miller

    My chihuahua Alfie was 10 he kept good health to six months ago he had a heart murmur he was on heart pills, as he was collapsing ,he was ok sometimes I could not get his med into him and he would hide it ,the pills were stopping him collapsing to about a fortnight ago he started to collapse again,but I used to bring him round by massaging his heart but we’d 22/3/2003.2days ago got up in the morning two bowls of water were out one for my other dog and one for him with his tablet in it he ran for the other bowl I took it of him and he ran into his bed so I left him and iwould give him his medicine later as it was early morning ,went to get him and he had died ,can’t forgive myself.🥲

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  27. Georgette

    On March 09 2023 I had to let my beloved Skippy my gorgeous lovable best friend cross Rainbow Bridge. He was 17 years old. I noticed he was losing weight and I thought it was due to old age. Then he would start sitting by the water dish and just stare into it for about 10 minutes before he starts drinking. All of this has been gradually happening and not suddenly. So again, I thought he’s just getting old. My sister and I live together and have 3 other cats but Skippy was basically with me all the time. Our cats puke and we never catch them in action so we really don’t know who is doing it. Then we find blood in the litter box. We called our vet and they said if it continues to bring him in. It hasn’t happened in a long while after. Skippy started getting too lazy and sleeping a lot and again I said it’s because he’s old and cats do tend to sleep a lot. Skippy never ever once was a meower and he looked at me and meowed.. All of this is eating me up because there were signs that someone was not feeling well and it happened to be Skippy. He has his favorite recliner and he jumped onto it and his head hit the back rest, he was off balance. And another time he tried jumping up on it and fell back. And suddenly he would just sit and not eat his food. All of this has happened in only 4 month. I decided it’s time to bring him to the vet to get him checked. He had severe liver damage and to fix the problem was not promising. My sister and I decided that he is suffering and we should let him cross. This was the worst experience for me. We’ve had cats euthanized before, we’ve had cats since 1987. But Skippy was my little boy from the beginiing. I am still crying and feel guilty for not having him checked sooner. This is the most I ever cried, more than family members. I know I will get over it but it will be a long time.
    I love you forever Skippy xoxoxoxxo

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  28. Anonymous

    In 2017 I lost my dog Jacob. He was hit by a car right in front of me just a couple days before christmas, when i was about 9. I had one of my closest friends at the time over. Me, her, my brother, and her brother went out sledding. At the time i never did anything without jacob so i brought him out with me and we had fun. After a while my brother told me to bring him inside and i was like “no he’s fine out here with us” so i ignored my brother and kept jacob outside with us. I would go down the hill and he would chase behind me. I was sitting at the top of the hill talking with my friend sitting on our sleds and my brother and her brother were sitting at the bottom. I didn’t notice that there was a car coming and when i did i started yelling for jacob as he was running towards the road saying “jacob, bad dog, get back here” and then the car hit him as he was a small dog and was compeltely white so he couldn’t see him. I cant believe the last words i said to him were yelling at him and telling him he was a bad dog because he wasn’t listening to me. I remember hearing the thud and hoping he was okay and i stood up and looked and there was blood all over and i remember seeing one of his bones sticking out of his mouth. I cried so hard and immediately ran inside to call my moms work phone and tell her what had happened. I was crying so hard and i watched out the window as my neighbor had to bring my dogs dead body down and out of the way of traffic as we live on a very busy road. I also remember my brother telling me that it was all my fault that he got hit because he told me to bring him inside and i wouldn’t listen to him because i was stubborn. I was a complete mess for a while but i always tried to keep those feelings in, and about two years ago i was at the doctor and I hadn’t been sleeping well and i had been crying a lot as i just kept thinking about jacob so when i took one of those depression tests i had put that i hadn’t been sleeping much and that I had been crying quite a bit. My mom and doctor saw it and asked what i had been crying about and I told them and I just started bawling my eyes out. My mom had me go talk to this pastor about it and i was crying the whole time. After a while o thought i had finally gotten over it but every single time someone mentions it it hurts so bad or when i’m alone at night just up thinking I think about it and I just keep crying and crying, like tonight. I thought i would stop crying now but I just feel so much guilt. I was the one that brought him outside and I was the one that wouldn’t put him back inside when my brother told me to. He was my best friend and i was supposed to protect him like he would protect me and I didn’t. It’s so hard to believe when my mom used to tell me it wasn’t my fault because deep down I feel like everyone blames me. A few days after i always ended having nightmare after nightmare about him getting hit and me not being able to do anything about it, i just had to sit and watch. I still have some nightmares where i have him back or i have a chance to get him back by doing something but at the end of the dream it always ends up with me losing him somehow, mainly him getting hit by a car. I wish i could take every single thing about that day back if i could. I wish i would’ve listened to my brother when he told me to bring him inside. I think this guilt will follow me around forever, because almost 6 years later i’m bawling my eyes out about it. I just hope he wasn’t suffering when he died, and I gave him a happy and full and loving life.

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  29. Lindsey

    This is helpful as are the other stories of pet grief. I ran over my 8 month old chihuahua mix puppy this morning as I was taking my daughter to school. His name was Javier and he was playing in the yard with our other dog like any other morning, I saw him behind us but he started following us (his usual routine but always stayed away from the car) and before I knew it he ran under the car. I immediately stopped after it happened, picked him up and ran to my Mom’s house next door. He was already gone. He was such a great companion. He slept in bed with me and my husband, was so playful and lovable. I feel so guilty because I shouldn’t have let him out, I should’ve paid more attention, so many ways I could’ve prevented this. It’ll take a long time to get over but I’m trying to tell myself how much he was loved and how happy his short life was.

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  30. ryan

    my girlfriends cat started vomiting blood out of nowhere the other day. i knew it wasn’t good and begged her to take her to the ER. it was my girlfriends cat but we formed a special bond and I saw her as part of my family, my cat. My gf wanted to wait until she could get ahold of the vet and see what the vet had to say. She waited 12 whole hours while the cat suffered, vomiting blood 3 more times in obvious pain before she finally got in touch with the vet by phone. the vet then told her to wait another day. The next day the cat couldn’t move or eat and i finally convinced my gf to take her to the ER where she was confirmed to be in an unsavable state and put to sleep. I feel so bad that the cat had to suffer for 1 whole day in pain while we did nothing to help. The cat needed us and trusted us to help her, and we did nothing for a whole day. I should have taken her to the ER by myself as soon as she vomited the first time. My girlfriend should have listened to me. I blame us both and can’t forgive either of us.

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  31. Margie

    We lost our dog Percy Friday evening in a unspeakable way. He was my world and I let him down.
    My grandmother passed a few months ago and I’d been cleaning out her house all day and came home to my husband working in the yard. He greeted me with the unbridled excitement he always did and went back to playing in the yard. We were unloading the truck and I went in to shower assuming he was playing. About an hour later I go out to get more out of my truck and he had jumped in at some point. I live in Texas. He was barely clinging on to life, I rushed him to the vet. We worked on him for two hours before being told I needed to euthanize him, he wasn’t coming back. No brain activity. I can eat, I can’t sleep, his moma is so lost without him. He slept with me every night. My husband is wracked with guilt because he was the last one that shut the door not knowing he was in there. We live on five acres and the 5 dogs run and play in pond etc. I don’t know how I didn’t notice he wasn’t inside for an hour.
    We buried him yesterday morning and I can barely get out of bed even today. I just feel so guilty for his horrible passing, wondering where I was and why did I leave him. I’m crushed with guilt and I miss him so much I physically hurt. The worst part is how his life ended. I know know I need to eat, get up, function then I think of his last moments and I’m brought to my knees.
    Any advice?

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  32. Tanya

    My dog Melman died two days ago. He was 15.5 and I knew he wouldn’t live forever and that I would have to take him to be euthanized one day. He was a small dog, a shitzu mix. I just lost him tragically though. He was very attached to me like a velcro dog so it was very difficult to leave him. He would poop in the house every time we left this last year and we had tried putting him in a kennel but he pooped all over himself. It had gotten worse this last week twice when I left him inside while I was outside with a neighbour or a friend he pooped in the house even though he had just been outside with us. So I took him with us to my Mom’s for the night. She had planned for us to go to her neighbors that afternoon and I wasn’t really sure we could take him with us there and I didn’t think she and her bf wanted him pooping all over their house so I agreed to leave him tied up on the deck in a shady spot where they leave their dog outside. But I should have known and been more careful or took him with us or stayed home with him. He absolutely can’t stand me leaving him. When he came back less than a few hours later he had wrapped the rope around a table and then squeezed through the tiny slats on the railing and hung himself. When I found him he was gone but where he was hanging looked like he could have almost touched and I’m tortured thinking how long he may have struggled to stay on his tip toes before failing and wondering where I was and why I left him there to die. I don’t know I am ever going to get over this. Such a horrible way for his beautiful life to end.

    I have no real words of comfort for others but it has been comforting to hear others stories sharing in this pain and the guilt. It’s much easier to say to any of you, it was a tragic accident and you’re all obviously good pet loving parents grieving.

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  33. Sarah

    I am so grateful I found this article and these heartfelt comments. I feel for all of the commenters. I lost my beautiful 10 year old pup Pepper this weekend. She had hurt her leg last weekend and was limping. We brought her to the vet Tuesday and he x-rayed her and prescribed pain reliever anti inflammatory. A few days later she was walking better but whined when we tried to pick her up or touched her tummy. Turns out she got a small puncture that we didn’t know about and it was infected. We took her to emergency vet and she was in ICU for two nights. The infection had destroyed enough of her skin that recovery was uncertain and if even possible would involve more procedures and skin grafting. We couldn’t put her through that and said goodbye to her with love and kisses. But are devastated we didn’t see or realize the infection sooner. She was out behind our yard and doing stuff she always does but if we had kept her im that day she’d be with us still. She was one of a kind – smart, expressive, darling and loving. Missing her and wishing I could turn back the clock. Never knew this would be
    My last summer with her. Rest in peace my love.

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  34. Melody

    My 14 yrars labrador mix was diagnosed with lyme deasease and i was treating him at home with all the medicins prescribed by his vet. He got way better. However one day he got worse and i needed to take him to the vet…but his vet turned to be on holiday…so i took him to another clinic i thought i could trust.
    At that clinic they did the ultra sound of his tummy and found a tumor. The vet at that clinic did the iv and several shuts without even consulting with me or doing the blood test to check on his kidney or liver codnition.
    When i brought him home he seemed to feel a bit better but that started throwing up. I called the vet who was treating him and she said…must be just a stomach reaction and prescribed a med. I gave him the med and it seemed to be helping….little did i know that she overdosed my baby with anti inflamatory drugs…which caused a kidney failure 🥺
    next day he got worse and she said it was because of his tumor…and he would only get worse and offered to put him to sleep.
    I denied to do that…i did not even know whether the tumor was melign or not. So i wanted him to get a bit better to check on that tumor…meanwhile he was slowly dying from kidney failure and i had no idea … next day it was too late to help him…and i ended up putting him so sleep…. I did not know what was happening ….but i am definitely blaming myself for not taking him to the 3d clinic when he threw up…i do not know how to live with this now. I feel that there was a chance to save him but i did not due to not knowing and understanding that the vet cauld harm him or be that incompetent 😳😑….i only realized what happened after days of reading multiple articles describing his symptoms and condition. I can not live with myself and really do not know how to forgive myself.

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  35. Heartbroken

    I am heartbroken. My 17 year old cat died yesterday and I am wracked with guilt. He had been having seizures and was blind but was happy in every way. Was such a smart boy so would out, do his business then come in. I always check on him with ring cameras or go find him. Yesterday morning my husband and I had a coffee in bed. He let him out as he wanted out-usual routine. For some reason I didn’t keep checking-i think cause husband there I relaxed. He then got up, open blinds and he had drowned in the pool. It’s hard to explain but it’s high up and only gap was filled with a plant pot and due to his blindness if he touched something with his whiskers he would back off. We have no idea how he got there. Husband tired with might to revive him but sadly he had passed to rainbow bridge.
    I can’t stop crying and the guilt that “I killed him” is killing me. Why didn’t I check, why didn’t we make sure there definitely wasn’t a way he could get near it. I will never forgive myself. Was my daughters cat who is away at uni and that was devastating telling be. We are that ashamed we haven’t told people he drowned and it’s killing me when people
    Say it was just his time…it wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t of let him down!! I can’t even look out the back.

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  36. Pingback: When you feel you waited too long to say goodbye to your pet | The Ralph Site Blog

  37. Hazel Thomas-Welch

    I’m devastated to find myself here, and feel deeply for everyone else in this same situation 🙁
    I failed to protect my beautiful special boy and I am in so much pain. I wish I could go back.
    My wonderful beagle was 4. I hate saying ‘was’. I will never get used to it. He has always been a bugger on walks, I have lost him way more times than I care to admit, and every time I vowed I won’t make that mistake again. He has a habit of now and again suddenly running off into the undergrowth and disappear before I can get the lead back on. So obviously I should only walk him on lead. Always. But I keep giving the benefit of the doubt and let him run free, enjoying his freedom and wrestling with his little beagle brother, getting more confident with every walk that they don’t end up disappearing. Of course I should never have let him off the lead again. But I did. And today, he disappeared from the playing field we were in and didn’t come back. He ended up half a mile away and ran into the road. And now he’s gone and I am so sorry I was so stupid and irresponsible. I will forever be sorry. I love him so much, I hope I can forgive myself one day.
    Sending love to everyone here.

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