Dealing with Your Dog’s Death – Some Lessons I Learnt After Losing My First Dog



A year ago, my first dog, a neurotic Japanese Spitz called Nugget, passed away suddenly in a horrific accident. His untimely death was the hardest event I had to endure in 38 years of my life.

I wrote an article some time ago, describing why I felt our dogs’ deaths are so difficult to deal with.

It was Nugget’s first death anniversary recently. If you are out there, and you have recently lost your beloved dog, I hope that these little bits of my experiences will make your grieving process a little easier:

  1. We will always miss our departed canine companions, no matter how many years have passed since their death.
  2. There will come a time when you will stop crying, and feel like you can continue your daily work again. That does not mean you don’t love them anymore. It just means that you have picked up enough strength to carry on.
  3. You will still miss them, everyday. Some days more, some days less, but they will always be there, in your mind.
  4. There will be a time when you think don’t feel the hurt and sadness anymore, but one day there will be a song, a video, which will bring back the memories, the tears and the hurt. The pain will be as fresh and real as it was before. This does not mean you are weak, or that you have not recovered from grieving. It is normal- and just means that you truly loved your departed dog.

    Nugget eat bread
    Nugget thought he was the centre of the universe. Food was his greatest love.
  5. I believe there is an afterlife – whichever religion you believe in. If you are Christian or Muslim, take heart that you will meet them again after your time on this Earth.If you are Buddhist or Hindu, reincarnation is an integral part of existence. Believe me, this was not the first time you met your dog, and it will definitely not be the last. Your paths will cross again, whether in this life, or in the next.
  6. Whatever hurt and pain you feel now will never be greater in magnitude than the joy you had when your dog was still alive. Hence, never for a moment think that you should not have gotten him or her in the first place, to save yourself this heartbreak. Many people also say they will never get another dog again after their first dog passed away.
  7. You will tell yourself that you cannot go through the pain another time, and hence decide never to get a dog again. Please don’t do that. There is no greater joy than seeing a dog grow up and grow old; and there is no greater gift than to give an unwanted dog the gift of a home should you decide to adopt one.Your dog would have wanted you to get another one after he/she goes. Who knows, in future, you and your dog could very well meet again, the same way Bailey and Ethan did in A Dog’s Purpose.
  8. Experiencing, and surviving the pain of losing a loved one is an integral part of life. You will become a better, more compassionate and loving person, because you had to go through this. This pain, is yet another one of the valuable life lessons which your dog has taught you.
  9. There is no shame in wanted to get another dog who is the same breed, and as similar as possible to your departed dog. For this reason, some people choose to buy a dog again rather than to adopt one. It helps them heal. Much as I am an advocate of adoption, I respect others’ decision to look for a dog of the same breed, with similar characteristics.

    Nugget Smile and Growl
    I know that there will never be another dog who shares the same craziness and quirks as Nugget.
  10. Lastly, there will never be another dog who is exactly the same as your departed canine companion. That’s what makes them so difficult to let go of. But take comfort, that every minute of their time with you, was well spent and meaningful. They could not have had a better life with anyone else.

I made a video in memory of my one of a kind, neurotic dog. It is dedicated to all pet owners, who have loved, and lost a furry family member. We all grieve differently, but I think one thing is universal and crystal clear: Our dogs only come into our lives for a moment in time, they live on, forever, in our hearts.


  1. Thank you for this article. I too had a Japanese Spitz, Pepito. He died last week aged 8 years and I am heartbroken. He had cancer and did not suffer long, but was too young to die and I was not ready for it. My grief is very raw. As you say, he was irreplaceable. Not our first dog, but very special. Pepito was a beautiful dog, lovely nature, he brought me joy and happiness every day. I have been retired for 4 years and my wife still works. I was never lonely with Pepito around. He was my buddy. We did everything together. He made me laugh, he was quite neurotic, wouldn’t go near a wooden floor in case it was slippery and he felt unsafe. But he was gorgeous and everyone loved him. He found life so exciting. No-one has ever been that excited to see me every morning.
    I miss him terribly and cry every day. I have a lot of photos, but few videos. Needless to say, when I watched your video, the tears flowed freely. Beautiful

    • I’ve been there. It takes a while to get used to the sorrow but you learn eventually to live with the feelings. It took me 10 months to look at my dogs photo! Eventually I bought another and I’m so happy I did, he knew my pain and he made my life whole and happy again, although I didn’t expect him to replace the first one. You have a lot to give, so I hope eventually you give another a great life with you xx

  2. I too had a Japanese Spitz, Scotch. Lost him to pneumonia at the age of 8. He knew he was gonna leave me that night, he crawled out of his bed and came to sleep next to me. I still mourn for him even though it has been 13 years ago. He was my dog through my difficult twenties. We shared so much together. And yes he was neurotic, very protective of me and my family. Hated the garbage collector. Watching your video made me cry all over again. Never a day goes by that I don’t think of him, whilst thanking God that he was part of my life and thanking God again for not prolonging his suffering.

  3. Thank you for your insight and personal experience with this heartbreaking topic. Very honest and heartfelt. Makes me feel better and I will pass these articles on.

  4. Thank you for writing this. It really helped and consoled me after recently losing my dog Max to prostrate cancer. I was devestasted but reading this was what I need to feel a tad better after the experience.

  5. Yesterday I lost my Bruno, dalmatian, 14 yrs old. He wasn’t well for an year. Hard to come back empty home. He suffered alot from his illness. Each day was so hard watching him to suffer but at least he was alive and was there with me. He was like my baby. He never left me alone. We used to eat together, sleep together, walk together, and many more things. Just pray now he will come back to me. He was my baby and I wanted him to come back as my baby. Thanks for this article. I can relate to this.It really helped me and gave me a new hope.

  6. yesterday in sept 2 i lost my bestfriend name chimmy she was 8 yrs olda and she was a Good Dog she always play with me when i was still a kid we play then i saw something was wrong she was bleeding always my sister check her up and the doctor say she need to remove her instestine where the dog get pregnant then she was okay but then i saw something was wrong my sister go to us and tell she was dead..!!!

  7. I’m a senior citizen and just lost my 11 year old dog.He was 3 months when I got him. The heartbreak and grief you talk about is very true. I lost both parents and felt grief, but loosing my dog has hurt in a way that only dog owners can understand. My dog was by my side every second of every day.When ever I called his name, he was excited because the two of us were on another adventure, just him and I. The bond between myself and my dog is so strong and so special, the heartbreak seems unbearable at times. I look forward to seeing him again in Heaven.

  8. My 11 year old dog died the other day. It was just like you said…hurt worse than loosing my parents. He was always with me, and we pretty much did everything together.

  9. I’m a senior citizen and I just lost my 11 year old dog. I’ve lost buckets of tears over this. He was 3 months old when I received him as a puppy. I feel like I can’t go on without him. He is a bloodhound. The grief you talk about is so very true. We did everything together. Whenever I called his name, he was so excited because he knew we were on another adventure, just him and I. I loved him more than I can put in words. He was just like one of our children. The bond between us was so strong and so special. I really appreciated your article.

  10. I too, lost my 12 yr. old, beloved dog, Tyler Jame suddenly and traumatically due to congestive heart failure. The intense pain and guilt has nearly killed me. Dr. Siew’s story and advice has been one of my few comforts. I live alone and Tyler was all I had,..all I loved. I cared for him 24/7, with the utmost of joy. I prepped his 3 meals a day and tucked him in at night with his blanket. Even though I have a fenced in backyard, he was never outside alone, or out of sight of my watchful eye. He was little, and needed my protection. What a character he was,.. and so smart. I must’ve told him I loved him thousands of times. My sweet boy came to me last night in a dream. He ran fast to me and jumped on me. I was overcome with tears and laughter. I asked him, “Tyler!! Where have you been?!” He opened his mouth and to my shock, words came out in the voice of a little boy. He said, “I’ve been in heaven, mommy!”
    I love you Jame.