The single hardest part of being a dog owner is when you’re not. Saying goodbye to your pal, whether you’ve only had her a week or you’ve had her for fifteen years or more, is emotionally draining. After spending a considerable portion of your time, money, energy, and happiness with your pup, saying goodbye forever can take its toll.

Knowing when

It’s hard to know exactly when your dog will go. It’s easy to think that your dog will pass in her sleep on your bed one night at the old age of twenty. Those dreams are often not a reality for many dog owners. Veterinarians are allies in the world of putting dogs down. While it’s a tough phrase, sometimes it’s best to put a dog down rather than go through surgery after surgery, tons of medications, and a low quality of life.

Dogs’ bodies deteriorate much faster than ours do. While your senior citizen could be fine and healthy one day, the next day, she might need a leg amputation, chemotherapy, and ten medications to remain lucid. It’s an incredibly personal and challenging decision to know when is the right time for your dog to pass.

With the added kicker that we often want our dogs to pass painlessly, the decision becomes even harder. The “what if” questions will cloud your judgment regardless of what decision you make, and there’s never really a great time to know when. All you can do is follow your veterinarian's guidance and trust her judgment. There are many ways to say goodbye, and you and your pup will know when it’s time.

What to do after

While burying a dog’s remains in the backyard is something that’s been done for centuries, there are dozens of ways to honor and cherish your pup’s life without putting her in a box in the yard. Just like humans, dogs have funeral services, and funeral homes are happy to do whatever you need to make the transition as easy (and as cost effective) as possible for you and your loved ones.

Beyond the grave, the next decision is always “should we get another dog?” It’s an incredibly personal decision, and often times, especially if it is a dog who lived for over ten years without any doggy friends, an owner will rush out to the adopt a new pup. The emotions that go with owning a dog, a friend, a family member cannot be understated. The choice is yours on what to do after your dog goes, but you should consider everyone involved, including yourself, when making that call. No new pup can ever replace an old one, and it’s important to remember that your dog’s life was unique and valuable.