How to Grieve Your Shihpoo for Comfort and Strength


14 Ideas for Grieving Your Shih Tzu-Poodle Puppy

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When I was 12 years old, we accidentally ran over our dog. He was a beautiful, loyal, but mostly blind, and deaf 14-year-old dog, but he still loved to walk the neighborhood at my side. I remember feeling devastated, not wanting to go to school for days. We buried him in an old tunnel we had dug into the hillside. I often wondered what others did to grieve the loss of their dogs. I will admit I appreciated that my no-nonsense, hardworking, raised-on-farm mother shed some tears of her own when calling my father at work to explain what had happened that day. 

What are some positive ways to grieve for your Shihpoo?

The process of grieving a dog varies in form and length from person to person. Holding a memorial and creating physical mementos can help, while adding a place of remembrance to your back yard or an item made from your puppy’s outfits to your blanket supply can also provide emotional strength.

We all grieve in our own personal ways, and each situation of loss differs in purpose and intensity. Losing a parent, sibling, child, or spouse will hit you greater force than losing a goldfish or a dog. That does not diminish the value of grieving a pet. It’s not a competition. Grieving the loss of your Shihpoo does not negate the grief of someone who has lost a family member.

Permission to Grieve

You have permission to grieve the death, loss, or even ownership transfer of your Shihpoo. That permission does not come from your family members, your neighbors, or other members of your Shihpoo Facebook group. Only you can give yourself permission to grieve. So do it.

It’s okay to grieve. Allow yourself to feel your loss as a tribute to your Shihpoo. 

Allowing yourself to feel the loss of your Shihpoo does not indicate any sort of weakness. It does not mean you lack discipline or self-control. Grieving, in whatever form you allow it, acknowledges the important place in your life the individual occupied.

That place will feel empty, and without grief, it will remain an empty hole inside you. Grieving offers you ways to fill that emptiness with positive and enduring memories.

Grieve in Your Own Way at Your Own Speed

People from different eras grieve differently. Some, though certainly not all, from earlier times maintained their stoicism after loss, which might make others feel they should not show any emotion during their own times of grief.

People from other times and places might show extreme emotion publicly, which can make some uncomfortable if they are not used to witnessing such displays.

Whether your culture stems from a time, a place, a family, or just your own heart, your way of grieving is valid. You don’t have to conform to anybody else’s expectations.

When someone asks you something horrible like, “shouldn’t you be over this by now?” simply thank them for their concern and tell them you are grieving as fast as you can.

14 Positive Ideas for Grieving the Loss of Your Shihpoo

Whatever the origin of your grief, you can find strength and support to help you through it. Every situation is unique, even though there are just a few basic reasons for grieving. Most commonly, we grieve the death of our Shihpoo. Shihpoos tend to be very social pets and companions, loving to cuddle and play constantly when awake. When they pass away, their absence becomes all-too-painfully-obvious very quickly.

The literal loss of a Shihpoo can also lead to deep feelings of grief. Whether your puppy escaped under your backyard fence or bolted while on a walk, that fact that you miss him or her is the definition of grief. In such cases, your grief can also combine with feelings of guilt and uncertainty to complicate your feelings.

Even giving your Shihpoo to another individual or family can lead to grief. Early in our young family life, we tried twice to have a dog in our home. The sweet young beagle named Bronco lasted about a month before we realized that two children under two already demanded plenty of time from us as parents. Even though we found a loving home for him, our children still felt the loss, so much so that they speak of Bronco with fondness these 15 years later.

We then rescued a dachshund we named Dash. He was also extremely sweet and even patient with strangers, which surprised many with dachshund experiences of their own. Unfortunately, in just two or three months, we realized our four-year-old son was having allergic reactions to Dash. Fortunately, we had some friends in our neighborhood who already had a dachshund and were looking for another. Again, this many years later, our children speak of Dash using the vocabulary of loss in doing so: “I miss him,” “that was sad,” “why?”

Regardless of why you are grieving, consider the following ideas for helping you through the process.

1. Hold a Funeral or Memorial

If you worry that non-dog lovers might think you it silly to hold a funeral or even just a memorial for a dog, don’t invite them. Just because others have different views of their relationships with pets than you do, don’t let that stop you from taking an important step in your grieving process.

Holding a formal ceremony to celebrate your relationship with a Shihpoo that touched your heart can bring a great deal of comfort and even a new measure of joy. The accredited financial counselor in me would probably recommend you minimize the amount of money you spend on such a gather, although I also recommend you place it among your priorities and spend accordingly.

If the funeral and burial plot take higher precedence than paying rent that month or your car payment that month, that’s your choice. However, I would recommend you never place funerals or memorials on credit. Funerals, caskets, and burial plots in pet cemeteries, where available, can easily run as much as 50% of the US median household monthly income. Cremation options come in around one-sixth to one-third the cost.

2. Hold an Informal Remembrance Event

If you experience the normal money constraints of life, steer away from the pet funeral directors and hold a simple memorial in your own home. Ask each invitee to come with their favorite store or willing to share what they will miss most. You might even serve your Shihpoo’s favorite food to sneak from the human table. 

Celebrating your Shihpoo’s life and the memories you built together allows you to express your gratitude for his or her loyalty, love, and dedication to you, whether you spent a month or two decades together. If you have children, such formal celebrations also help diminish the guilt they might feel if you eventually get another dog. These events allow you to recognize that the individual Shihpoo mattered and can’t be replaced in your heart.

3. Create and Display a Memory Book

You have so many options to create memory books of your time together with the special Shihpoo. You can design and order a printed memory book from a service like Mixbook. Upload high qualify photos to the service, and then add your favorite Shihpoo stories. While they are not cheap, they do not cost nearly as much as major memorial events and will actually provide you fresh and sweet memories with your puppy for decades.

Of course, you can ask friends and family members to post photos and stories of your Shihpoo. Be sure to bookmark them so you can access them whenever you feel the need.

4. Contribute to an Animal Care or Protection Service

A donation in memory of your puppy can provide you a double dose of comfort. First, you honor your Shihpoo by doing something good in his or her name, and second, you create a legacy of helping other dogs because you cared so much about your own. Find a local shelter or a dog sanctuary, like Healing Hearts that my amazing childhood friend founded and runs in Lompoc, California.

5. Volunteer at an Animal Care Facility

Beyond a monetary donation, you can honor the memory of your beloved Shihpoo by giving of your time to a local shelter, rescue, or sanctuary. Offering your most valuable resource blesses both your life and the life of a loving animal.

6. Create a Memorial Garden

Plant a tree and some shrubs in the corner of your back yard as a memorial garden to your dog. Add a border of stones to create an enclosed space, then plant a few bushes or flowers to honor your companion.

7. Create a Memorial Stone or Bench

Adding a memorial stone to your memorial garden creates an even stronger connection to your pet. Whether you order a preformed resin “stone” that you can add your Shihpoo’s photo to or you place a customized granite memorial stone to the garden, a physical object with your pet’s name or photo gives you a focal point for your memories.

8. Plant Trees in Your Dog’s Name

The Trees for Pets program from the Arbor Day Foundation offers you a way to remember your dog while making the world a little greener. Your donation means the Foundation will plan ten trees they would not have otherwise been able to plant. You can then download a certificate that lists your dog’s name and the name of the forest where the trees have been planted.

9. Voluntarily Clean Up Your Local Dog Park

Did you spend hours and hours at your local dog park? Each time you were there, you may have noticed benches, tables, or play equipment in need of cleaning or repair. Head on over once a week or once a month and make that park an even better place for other pet families.

10. Create a Keepsake

Some Shihpoo mammas and papas are comfortable using a portion of their puppy’s ashes in a physical keepsake, such as a piece of jewelry, a laboratory-produced diamond, or something for the display cabinet. Others are not. Do a search on Etsy for pet keepsakes to find creative ways to memorialize your puppy. From customized pendants and bracelets to unique displays for your shelf, creative entrepreneurs on Etsy can provide you a unique way to keep your dog close to your heart.

11. Sew Your Puppy’s Favorite Outfits into a Pillowcase or Small Blanket

While you likely do not have enough outfits to create a memory quilt, you might have enough to assemble into a pillowcase or a small blanket. What better way to remember your cuddlebug Shihpoo than cuddling up with his or her cute outsides, coats, and costumes sewn together!

12. Donate Your Puppy’s Toys to a Local Shelter or Rescue

Most Shihpoo families struggle with loss. Some want to hold onto their puppy’s favorite toys as mementos. Others have a hard time controlling their emotions at the sight of such items. For these latter families, donating your dog’s favorite toys (cleaned and sanitized, of course) to the local shelters or rescue is a fantastic way to allow your puppy to continue making the world a happier place. Dogs at the shelter or rescue will continue to find joy in playing with these toys, and you can find peace of mind knowing your puppy did some good even after his or her passing.

13. Create a Memory Box

If you prefer to hang onto the toys and tugs your Shihpoo loved, create a memory box. You can purchase a customized box with your puppy’s name on it, or you can simply use a permanent marker on a store-bought container. For young children in particular, such boxes offer tangible connections to their best furry friend for years. If you notice that after a year or two the box remains closed, consider offering it to yoru local shelter or rescue.

14. Read Read Read

When I experienced the most grief-filled time of my life (not related to dog), I read several books about the situation I was going through and found great comfort and strength in the way others approached it. Facebook friend, Mary R., offers some great book recommendations from her time as a teacher and helping her young students through the loss of a pet: The Tenth Good Thing about Barney by Judith Viorstand Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant.

Life Does Go On

Aside from remembering your Shihpoo, be sure to take care of your own physical and emotional needs and those under your care (the two legged and the four legged). Eat healthy and continue to take walks, even if on you own. If you struggle with grief beyond what you can manage, do not hesitate to seek out the counsel and listening ear of a comforting friends or even a counselor. You are more than a Shihpoo Mama or Shihpoo Papa, so focus on your own needs for a while.

Stay in Touch with Those You Care About

Maintain your human connections with those you love. Allow your family and friends to be your strength and support, although you may consider which will be more understanding than others. If you visited dog parks or neighborhood greenspaces where you connected with other dog family members, you might find it difficult to return without your dog. However, if your connections were strong enough, you might think about inviting them to join you for dinner or to ask if they would be willing to share their memories or if they had photos they could add to your online memorial or your Facebook page.

Meet Your Obligations to Other Animals

If you have other animals under your care, focusing on their wellbeing can provide you a measure of stability and even comfort. If your grief overwhelms you, do not hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or community resources for support and help through the process.

Considerations Before Getting Your Next Shihpoo

Getting another Shihpoo upon the loss of another Shihpoo feels and seems natural. Your beautiful puppy, now gone, has left an empty space in your heart and you want to fill it.

While everyone is different, and grieving periods will vary, be careful not to rush into getting another puppy so quickly.

Allow for a Period of Grief, especially for Children

Getting another dog within a matter of days or even weeks might create feelings of guilt in adults and children alike. Allowing yourself a few weeks or even months to grieve your loss honors your lost puppy and gives you long-term strength to move on.

Recognize that You Can’t Replace Your Lost Shihpoo

Once you are emotionally ready to bring another dog into your life, make an extra effort to remind yourself that you are not “replacing” your lost puppy. Each Shihpoo is unique and deserves to be valued for his or her uniqueness. Purchasing another Shihpoo and expecting him or her to look, act, and behave like your previous Shihpoo is unfair to both dogs.

Verbally share this principle with any children in the home. Allow yourself and children to build new traditions with the new Shihpoo. Buy different toys, take him or her to different parks, and take different routes on your walks.

Related Questions

How do you help someone get over the death of their Shihpoo?

The best ways to support a friend or family member in times of grief after the loss of their Shihpoo include offering a listening ear, writing and delivering a sympathy card, or offering to share a memory or photo of the beloved dog.

How long does it take to grieve for your dog?

Some individuals may move from Shihpoo to Shihpoo without much thought, while others will keep their Shihpoo’s memories fresh for an entire lifetime. If your grief seems to paralyze you after even a week or two, consider talking to a friend, family member, or even a professional counselor.

Todd Christensen

Founder and lead blogger at ShihpooCentral.com, Todd loves his family's two Shih-poo puppies, Titus Rex and Stark Antonio (aka Sir Titus Whitus and Baron von Wigglebutt). He and his wife have four wonderful human children as well, and he doubles by day as a financial educator facilitating budgeting, credit building and debt elimination workshops.

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