Ask Wy

March 2022

Hey Wyatt! I noticed you've been out. I'm glad to hear you're ok but I started wondering, how do I cope when I lose my pet?

Thanks--I am so glad to be back at work! While I hope to be around for many years to come, it is true that my life as a dog tends to be much shorter than human lifespans. I know my family will be sad when I am no longer with them. When mom works with others who have lost family members (human and pet--she says we can mourn the loss of our pets in very similar ways we mourn human loved ones) she focuses on something called the Four Tasks of Mourning (Worden):

  • Task 1: Accept the reality of the loss

  • Task 2: Process the pain of grief

  • Task 3: Adjust to a world without the deceased

  • Task 4: Help the survivors find an appropriate place for the deceased in their emotional life

Usually our mourning process happens with the support of friends of family. Sometimes, though, people don't really understand how people can grieve the loss of a pet. Sometimes they say things that feel hurtful even if they don't mean to be unkind. If that's the case, you might want to reach out for some additional help. Pet Loss and Bereavement Support Groups can be helpful if you're struggling with the loss of a pet. Individual therapy is also available if you find yourself needing more help.

Worden JW. Grief counseling and grief therapy: A handbook for the mental health practitioner. fifth ed. New York: Springer Publishing Company; 2018.

Hey Wy, are you excited to be back in the office? Did you miss being Dr. Dog?

Yes! I am so happy to be seeing people in therapy again! They tell me they miss me and what a good boy I am. And sometimes they feed me popcorn or green beans! They're the best. I really love being Dr. Dog. I love listening to people and helping them learn to cope with hard things that happened in the past. I'm a really good listener. Sometimes it is hard to talk to other humans, I'm told. I hope when hard things happen and you need someone to talk to that you'll come talk to me. If you don't live near Greenville, I hope you'll talk to another therapy dog in your area. Or even a human. You don't have to do hard things along.

What does a hard working therapy dog do between sessions?

Nap in the sunshine 😍