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Dog Walking 101: Grieving the Loss of a Canine Client

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As a dog walker, forming bonds with your canine clients and their parents is hands down one of the most rewarding parts of your job. On the other hand, when a dog passes away, it can feel like you’ve lost a pet too. You understand the pain their parent feels, and naturally you want to offer your sympathy and support. Though it will take time for their grief to go away, there are some things you can do or say to help ease their sadness a little.

What to give to someone who has lost a pet

If a beloved canine client has recently crossed the Rainbow Bridge, here are some ideas for keepsakes that you can give to their parent to provide a bit of comfort. 

  • Scrapbook. If you’ve taken a dog for more than a few walks, then you likely have enough photos of them to create a scrapbook. Go through your phone’s gallery and select photos of your four-legged client that their parent will love, and see if you can include pictures that they’ve never seen before. Though digital scrapbooks are nice, a physical scrapbook that the pet parent can hold and flip through whenever they miss their pup provides a more poignant experience.
  • Hand-drawn portrait. If you know how to draw, why not commemorate your furry client with a hand-drawn portrait? Any pet parent would be more than happy to receive one of their pup, whether it’s a realistic pencil drawing or an illustration done in your own style. Consider framing the portrait as well so that the pet parent can display it in their home right away.
  • Memorial donation. Many animal charities let you celebrate the life of a pet with a donation in their name. They also offer the option to send a personalized card to the pet parent via email or snail mail. Aside from honoring the memory of your canine client, this gift helps other animals in need as well. 
  • Floating locket. A floating locket lets a pet parent keep their dog near their heart at all times. Unlike regular lockets that are enclosed and can only hold one or two pictures, a floating locket can accommodate multiple items such as a photo, charms, and a small piece of fur. Floating lockets also have glass windows, so the contents are always visible. 
  • Sympathy card. Sometimes, a handwritten note is enough to help ease the burden of losing a four-legged loved one. You can also include a few photos of your canine client in the envelope. Whether you buy a card or make one yourself, what matters the most is the sincerity of your message. If you’re not sure what to write, then keep reading for some tips.

What to write in a pet sympathy card

A thoughtfully written sympathy note can offer some much-needed support to someone who is grieving. Writing a long letter isn’t necessary; you just have to show that you care. If you’re struggling to find the right words, here’s some guidance on what to say and what not to say. 

  • Start by offering your sympathy and letting the pet parent know that you’re thinking of them.
  • Briefly share one of your favorite moments with their dog. This adds an even more personal touch to your note.
  • End your note by letting them know you’re always willing to lend an ear or help out if needed. 
  • Don’t say, “They’re in a better place now.” This is not comforting to hear and may make the pet parent feel even worse.
  • Don’t say, “You’ll feel better soon.” Let the person grieve at their own pace and acknowledge their grief instead. 
  • Don’t say, “At least you have other pets.” Each companion animal is a unique individual who can’t be replaced. 

Here is an example of a sympathy note:

Dear Sarah,

I was very sad when I learned that Spot had gone to the Rainbow Bridge. I’m so sorry for your loss. Spot was such an amazing dog, he was always a pleasure to walk and never caused any trouble. I will miss strolling with him along the greenway. Please let me know if you need anything. 

With sympathy,

John

The passing of a dog leaves a void in the hearts of the people who loved them. Send your support to your canine client’s parent during this difficult time, and make sure to take care of yourself and your own grief too.


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