It’s been a year and a half and she is still missed. It’s hitting especially hard now because the holiday season was her time. The day after Thanksgiving was the day that all the Christmas decorations came out of the shed. She would jump around and act silly—nose-poking the box that held her stocking and her reindeer antlers (to this day I still don’t know how she knew which box it was). She would lie quietly on a blanket beside us while we opened each box and carefully extracted each ornament, her eyes lighting up when the angels and snow globes made their appearance. Then, when the last ornament went up on the tree, we would step back and look at our handy work... she was always beside us, body wagging as if to say, “Good job!” The decorations did not come out the day after Thanksgiving this year. We tried, but we just couldn’t. We kept thinking about her, our best friend, and we couldn’t. Christmas is just not the same without her.

If you are reading this, you are a dog lover and you understand how I feel. You understand how truly deep the human-animal bond is, and you understand the intense grief that is felt after losing a pet, especially one that was a source of constant, unconditional companionship. It is only those who do not comprehend the human-animal bond, who would say that feeling grief over a loss of a pet is silly or over sentimental.

Grief is normal and natural. Take it from me, I have vented and cried with many dog owners, and I am reassured every time that my feelings are not crazy. Bereavement is a process and should not be taken lightly. The important thing to keep in mind is to not lock away your grief—this doesn’t make it go away—and don’t try to avoid it by not thinking about your pet. This will make your bereavement process so much longer and more painful. By thinking about the good times with your pet, you will understand what their life and death means to you, and you will be able to put your grief into perspective.

There are some amazing resources out there if you have lost a pet and need help grieving.

One of my personal favorites is the book, “Saying Good-bye to the Pet You Love” by Lorri Greene and Jacquelyn Landis. There are also support group sessions for people that lose their pets. These sessions are beneficial because you realize that you are not alone; that everyone in the room is feeling the pain that you feel. These sessions also help with what to say to children and also helping other pets in your home.

We will be setting up Christmas this next weekend. It will be hard, but we’ll think about her and smile because she was so happy during the holidays. And, when we step back and look at the decorated tree, we’ll know that she’s still there with us.

Rainbow Bridge

Author Unknown

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks

into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....