My Dog Drowned

by Karin Baltzell, Ph.d

Dear Karin,

I lost my dog, Buster almost two months ago very tragically. I let him go out to go to the bathroom like I had done for 15 years and I walked away for a minute. I looked out the window and noticed he had fallen into my almost frozen pond. It had snowed the night before although the pond wasn't completely frozen over. I ran out there to try and get him out. I felt the ice under my feet cracking. I couldn't reach him. I tried so hard. He kept flapping his paws trying his hardest to get out but he couldn't reach land. The ice kept breaking. I called the neighbors and my husband at work and 911. With all the help and trying it was too late. By the time my husband got home my dog was floating on the top of the water. I cannot deal with this pain. I see it over and over and over again in my head. He was looking at me asking "Why aren't you helping my get out of this cold water?". The image I also see is him seeing me on his death bed knowing I let him drown. Please give me some advice and how to cope with this. Every time I look out the window i see that awful pond. How can i continue to live here and see that image everyday. Please help me.

Dear Tracie,

We were so sorry to hear that you had lost your dear pet. It must have been very traumatic for you to not be able to help your loved animal.

There are many things I could try to write to you to hopefully ease your pain, but I think, considering the circumstances, you might still be in some sort of shock, and suffering from post traumatic stress. Your most immediate help could come from a specialist for post traumatic stress disorder. You can find a specialist like this if you call your local hospital and ask for references, or call your local counseling center.

Coping with a death is never easy, and it is especially difficult when you have some sense of responsibility. Rest assured, you could do nothing for your dog. After all these years of letting him out he has never gone to the pond and gotten into trouble. Perhaps he knew that his time was getting close to leave you [he was 15 and that is old for a dog] and he chose to make it quick. Death always looks bad to the bystander, but I am told over and over that those deaths are really quite quick, and not as painful or full of panic as they appear.

Perhaps you might look at your dog's passing as a blessing {he died quickly} and a double blessing because the last thing he saw was YOU, and you were HELPING him. I'm sure your dog knew that. Perhaps he was really saying to you, I'm so sorry I did this, and caused you so much unhappiness.

Do let us know how you come to terms with this. We care.

Karin


Karin is a staff writer and editor for Beyond Indigo. She holds her Ph.D in Psychology.

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