How Long Does It Take To Recover From Your Dog’s Death

Navigating the emotional maze after losing my soul dog

Mango — Image by the author

Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen. — Orhan Pamuk

The house feels quieter and emptier, the air a little heavier, and even the sunniest days can seem a bit dimmer.

Losing a furry family member is like losing a piece of your heart.

Today marks the first anniversary of losing my soul dog, Mango. The sweetest little thing ever!

A ball of cuteness — Image by the author

My world became less colourful a year ago

Let me tell you, it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions that didn’t come with a manual.

As months passed, I kept wondering how long it takes to recover from your dog’s death. I realized that’s a loaded question with no one-size-fits-all answer.

My dog held a unique place in my heart that even my closest human companions couldn’t fill.

If you love a pet like I loved mine, you know it’s not an exaggeration to say that certain pets become more than just animals. They transform into confidants, emotional anchors, and soulmates of a sort.

My dog’s unconditional love, the way she sensed my mood & health, and her unwavering loyalty created a stronger bond than those I share with my relatives.

Mango was a good girl. She always slowed down when I had flare-ups with my injury — Image by the author

She didn’t judge or hold grudges and was always there with a wagging tail when I needed it the most. Although, she was the best at giving me the side-eye when something didn’t go as she wanted with a cute snort or grunt (woof).

So, when I lost such an extraordinary companion, the emotional toll felt devastating for months.

It’s okay to feel closer to your pet than to some of your blood relatives. It’s okay to grieve your pet more and longer than your human family members.

It’s not just a pet that we’re mourning, after all.

It’s a loss of unconditional love, daily routine, and a unique form of emotional support that’s challenging to replicate.

My grief was overwhelming because the connection with my dog was so pure and uncomplicated, making the healing process a complex and deeply personal journey.

If someone tells you that it was ‘just a dog,’ it was ‘just a cat or a pet,’ that’s not a good person to be around when you’re grieving. That person doesn’t understand what you’re going through, and you don’t want to be surrounded by people who don’t get it.

The Grieving Process: It’s Complicated

The timeline for recovery varies from person to person.

For some, it might take weeks or months; for others, it could be years. Factors like your emotional resilience, the circumstances of your dog’s death, and even your daily routine can all play a role.

Mango was a senior pup, getting close to 12 years of age. She had been on heart medication for just over 2 years when she got a double stroke, and her little heart gave up after a few days of struggle.

People told me I should’ve expected it, but I still hoped she had a few more years. Seeing her suffering during the double stroke was terrible to witness.

If your dog was a constant companion who went everywhere with you (like mine), the void they leave with the departure might feel even more gaping.

Cavaliers are excellent hiking dogs if the weather is cool enough, like in Wellington, New Zealand — Image by the author

Coping Mechanisms

Writing as Therapy

As someone who finds solace in the written words, I can’t stress enough how therapeutic writing can be.

I wrote down my thoughts, memories, and even letters to my dog. This exercise not only helped me process my emotions but also served as a beautiful tribute to her.

I felt comfortable sharing my experience in a blog post.

No, It Was Not Just a Dog – Identity crisis after losing my dog

I’d highly recommend writing as a coping mechanism!

You’d be amazed how your words can resonate with others going through the same ordeal and how people would find comfort in your words.

Creating a Memorial Space

Another way I coped with my dog’s passing was by creating a memorial space dedicated to her.

Mango’s memorial space — Image by the author

It could be as simple as a photo frame on your desk or as elaborate as a garden corner with their favourite things, plants, or toys.

Mango ‘lives’ in my living room now. I don’t mind what people think.

Is it the best place for her? It is for me, for now.

This space serves as a physical reminder of the love and joy she brought into my life.

Every morning, I say hi to her. Whenever I’m feeling down, I spend some time here talking to her (booping her nose on the picture), reflecting and remembering the good times.

I’ll spread her ashes on the shore when I live close to the ocean again. Mango loved the beach. It was the place she adored the most.

Mango in Canada (senior grandma age) — Image by the author
Mango in New Zealand (young adult age)— Image by the author
Mango in Ireland (puppy age)— Image by the author

Leaning on Your Support System

Don’t underestimate the power of a strong support system. Friends, family, and online communities can offer invaluable emotional support.

Talking about your pet and sharing memories can be incredibly healing. You never know — you might end up making a lifelong friend who understands exactly what you’re going through.

I was lucky enough to have 3 people I could talk to about Mango. It made a world of difference talking it out with them, as they understood what she meant to me.

Seeking Professional Help

If you find the grief too overwhelming and affecting your daily life, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Therapists and counsellors can provide coping strategies tailored to your needs.

It’s even more important to talk it out with someone if you don’t have a support system to lean on.

Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Even though I had a few people I could talk to, I didn’t want to burden them with my thoughts, so I found help outside my circle. I had 2 sessions with a grief counsellor, and she helped me tons.

When to Consider a New Pet

This is a tricky one. While a new pet can bring joy and fill the void to some extent, evaluating your emotional readiness is important.

A new pet is not a replacement but a new chapter. So, don’t rush into getting a new one.

Take your time to heal!

When you’re ready, you’ll know.

Trust your instincts! They’ll tell when you’re ready for a new fur baby.

I realized a new doggo wouldn’t replace Mango because she holds a special place in my heart.

Grieving is a deeply personal process that takes its own sweet time. There’s no stopwatch ticking away the seconds until we are ‘over it.’

Key Message

Grieving is not a linear process.

You don’t just move from sadness to acceptance in a neat, predictable fashion.


It’s more like a messy scribble with ups & downs and loop-the-loops.

One day, you’re fine. The next, you’re bawling your eyes out because you found their favourite toy under the couch. That’s perfectly okay. Your feelings are valid, and it’s essential to let yourself feel them. It’s all part of your healing journey.

If you’re going through this right now, I’m sending you all the love and positive vibes as you navigate this challenging chapter. 🌈🐾

Such a poser she was! — Image by the author