mourning your dog

Dear Cesar,

Just a few days ago we had to put our 10-year-old dog down. She left behind her 8-year-old “sister.” Nikki seems to be moping around the house and seems like she’s in search of her sister, the only thing she’s ever known. It’s heartbreaking. Please let us know what we should or should not be doing. This is hard for us as well and even heartbreaking just to watch her go through this. We don’t want to give her attention when she’s in this state.

Thank you,
Alicia Hirtzel
London, Ontario Canada

Hi Alicia,

First, I offer you my condolences, as I understand how hard it is to lose a canine family member. Take your time to mourn, but also think about moving on. Think about what it looks like, how it will feel, and be positive about the change in your lives. This way you’re creating a plan and intention – that’s the first step to healing and moving forward. You’re right to not give affection while your dog is in that depressed state. That only encourages it to continue. One of the best things you can do right now is to switch up your routine. Dogs love routine, but in this case, something has already shifted the routine with the passing of Nikki’s packmate. Go to new environments where there is no memory of them being together, introduce new smells and activities, get new dog beds or toys, and be conscious of how you’re thinking and feeling. This is a perfect time to include friends with dogs to come visit with their dogs and let your dog make some new friends of her own. Remember, that this will pass, and with time, you will form a new routine and new chapter of your lives will open. Honor the dog that passed however you need to or what feels right. I was able to heal from the loss of Daddy by helping others and still today, his memory lives on in the dogs and people whom he was able to bring balance to.

Stay calm and assertive!

Cesar Millan


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