10 Things Never to Say to Someone Whose Dog Just Died

I've had two beloved family members in my life: a half German Shepherd, half Great Dane, and a pure-white German Shepherd.

10 Things You Should Never Say to Someone Whose Dog Just Died

Here's a list of what you should never tell someone whose dog just passed. Imprint this in your head, because you never know if one day you’ll need it. Some of these statements or questions may seem obvious to avoid, but to many people, they are not. Furthermore, there are elements on this list that many people would never consider as off-limits.

1. “He was just a dog.”

“Just” can be a very powerful word. Using this word invalidates the grieving person’s emotions, and in fact, even makes that person feel challenged. If this individual is feisty or opinionated, and you tell him or her, “But she was just a dog,” be prepared to be fiercely called on your remark.

Ever see those bumper stickers that say, “The more I get to know people, the more I love my dog”? There’s truth to this. One day, a family member told me, “God must be SO disgusted with how people have turned out, how they treat each other. I’ll take a dog ANY day over a human.”

Dogs are family members to many people, their only companion who won’t judge and who’ll always come running when summoned. “Give a dog five minutes of your attention and he’s your friend for life.”

Being that dogs service the handicapped and provide untold joy and stellar companionship to so many people of all ages, you actually have no cotton-pickin’ right to say, “He was just a dog.”

2. “He's is in a better place now.”

Maybe. But their dog is no longer HERE. Never make this comment.

3. “At least he's no longer suffering.”

Don’t be surprised if the grieving replies, “True. But now I am.” Congratulations. You just dug yourself a hole.

4. “Are you STILL upset about your dog?”

Have you never lost a loved one? Imagine someone feeding you this line. Remember, to some people, dogs mean more to them than some of their immediate family members.

5. “I don’t know what you ever saw in that dog anyways. He wasn’t the brightest.”

People don’t get dogs because they want chess partners or to discuss world events. A dog can be as dense as a box of rocks and still be a significant source of joy to a person’s life.

6. “You can always get another dog/new puppy.”

Would you ever tell someone who just lost their young child to cancer, “You can always get pregnant again”? Actually, some people DO say this when a woman suffers a miscarriage. But hopefully you’d certainly never tell a premenopausal woman who just lost her teen daughter in a car accident, “Oh, but you can still try for another child.”

Dogs have unique personas, as any person who’s ever known dogs will tell you. Do not give out this wayward advice. The bereaved already knows they can “always get” a new puppy.

7. “I’m surprised you haven’t gotten a new puppy already.”

No matter how innocent the maker of the comment might be, it forces the grieving pet owner to acknowledge the loss of their dog. Even if that person doesn't respond to this comment, you can bet that he or she is now thinking about their lost pet when, for all you know, they’ve been working very hard to stop thinking so much about it and move on.

If you think they’re being overly sensitive, it’s really none of your business now, is it?

8. “One day, you’ll see him again.”

If the individual believes in a doggie-afterlife, they already know/believe this. Don’t bring it up. But what if you just happen to point this out to an atheist or agnostic? You just reminded them that they’ll never see their wonderful companion ever again.

9. “Well if you’d had your dog on a leash, he wouldn't have run into traffic.”

Don’t ever bring up a mistake that someone committed that led to the death of their pet. You can be quite sure that for the rest of their life, they will be kicking themselves with guilt and be plagued by endless “If only I . ”

10. “You spent a lot of money on that dog. At least now you’ll be able to go on that dream vacation you kept putting off.”

The very sad person whose dog just died would give anything to have their pet back —even if that meant never again going on a nice vacation or being able to afford pricey clothes, handbags or a new set of golf clubs. When my parents’ second dog passed away, my brother said, “What I’d GIVE to have just one more hour with him.”

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7 Things Your Deceased Pet Would Want You To Know

At iHeartDogs and iHeartCats we often write about coping with the loss of a beloved pet. We do this because we understand that saying goodbye is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do, and we hope that somehow our words can provide a bit of comfort. Having experienced the love and compassion of dogs and cats all my life, I believe they would want us to keep these 7 important messages close to our hearts after they have gone.

1. They understand your sadness, but would rather see you happy

When we are upset, our pets feel it. They seem to know what we need, whether it’s a flood of kisses, gentle kitty headbutts, or just to feel their presence by our side. After they pass away, it’s these moments when their absence hurts the most. Try to remember that although they shared in our pain, they also shared in our joy. Their greatest happiness was sharing in our moments of bliss, and that’s what they would want for us going forward.

2. They know you loved them & did the best you could for them

Our pets feel our love for them in everything we do. From the tone of our voice to the gentle way we stroke their hair. They see past our flaws and insecurities to the people we truly are inside. They don’t need hundreds of toys and custom dog beds to feel how much we care. To them, we are perfect, no matter what circumstances we struggle with during their lives.

3. They will always be with you as long as you carry their memory

No matter what you believe about the soul or the afterlife, nothing can truly die if it lives on in the memories of others. Every time we think about our furry friends or share a favorite story, we are keeping them alive within our hearts.

RELATED: 50 Unique Gifts or Memorials for Someone Who Lost a Pet

4. They don’t want you to have regrets

We hope that our pets will live long, full lives free of pain or disease until their time is up, but unfortunately that’s not the way it is. Whether they pass quietly in our arms of old age, or are taken too soon, they appreciate every moment and would hate to think that we feel any guilt or regret about our time together.

5. They know you would have been with them every second if you could

It’s normal to look back after losing a pet and wish that we’d spent more time showing them how much they were loved. Maybe we worked too much, or skipped our daily walks from time to time. Our pets don’t judge us for our choices, but they definitely appreciate our sacrifices.

6. They loved you more than you can comprehend

Our pets are so sincerely and unselfishly devoted to us that it is almost beyond our comprehension. Many have gladly laid down their very lives for their humans. As hard as it is to say goodbye, knowing the depth of that love can help us find the strength to move forward.

7. Loving another animal is not a betrayal, it’s a way to honor their memory

One of the most wonderful things about dogs and cats is that they have no selfish agendas. They simply want us to be happy. After they have passed away, our pets would want us to experience that unconditional love once again – especially if it means transforming another life the way we did theirs.

Related myTakes

I think people would be better off growing some skin rather than fussing over what gets them offended the most.

Yes, words hurt, of course they do. But it's still your own choice how you're going to respond to them. Some of these expressions are just dumb/insensitive I agree with that. I would word them differently.

It depends on how you use them. Example, they are 2 ways "I don't care" can be used. Example 1: "Do you want vanilla ice cream or chocolate ice cream?" "Eh, I don't care." Example 2: "OMGG I'M GOING ON American IDOL! IT'S BEEN MY LIFE DREAM SINCE I WAS 2!!" "Stfu cuz nobody cares bich."

Yeah that's a reasonable example. If the girl in example 2 would be so excited that she couldn't stop talking about it for days on end I'd definitely get annoyed, but I wouldn't call her out on it like that. People like to dream, I have no right to crush them.

Yeah. Don't be a Simon Cowell :P

Well, in those cases I kind of prefer the harsh yet honest opinion. If a girl can't sing then there usually is little hope for massive improvement. Many things can be learned over time, but having a great voice is simply part luck.

Yeah. Basically it's Cowell's way of saying, "I said no so you can go home and improve. Then you can come back and blow me away."

So in other words, be me when I was younger and get nowhere in life.

None of this is actually hurtful. If you tell someone to suck it up when they're in an actual bad situation, then you're just an idiot. But if they're just complaining about their makeup or how this guy/girl who they never had a chance with anyway is ignoring them, then they need that boot in the arse.

Life ISN'T fair, it's the easiest way of saying nothing can be done about it. It also makes you look like less of a dick in place of saying no can do.

You're crazy/psycho. I get told this on the daily, not once has it offended me.

Nobody likes you. I agree to never say this one, but come on. It's a bloody kinder insult. Anyone over five who uses this as an insult is just an idiot who can't think up new insults. They are not worth your time.

That's disgusting. How's this insulting? It's an opinion, not an insult. You're disgusting on the other hand is. Unless they're just saying that about the state of your home or showering habits. Then you gotta do some cleaning.

Told you so. Well i freaking did tell you so. It's actually offensive that you ask my advice then disregard it completely.

This is easy. It is easy. It's very easy. To hurt your feelings apparently. How is this hurtful?

You can't do it. Yeah, I try not to say this to people unless I've witnessed the absolute fail. Then I say it. But don't say it if you don't know.

You're wrong. If this is true, then it's not hurtful or an insult. It's truth. Get over it.

I don't care. Are you aware just how easy you can get your siblings to shut up by saying this? Seriously, it's like magic. They will yammer on and on for hours with you just yupping, and mhmming. Then you tell them you don't care and voila. They're quiet. It's a freaking miracle.
You don't say it if it's something they really care about though. You have to show your support if it's important to them. Even if you really don't care.

Oh yeah, I’m a bit like that

I’ve had plenty of people say this to me after finding out that I have bipolar disorder. It’s meant kindly, as a means of finding common ground. Except often it comes across like Russia battering a flag into a bit of the Arctic she doesn’t own.

Everyone has ups and downs as a natural course of life this is why people who are permanently smiley are irritating. Ditto those who seem to look to Grumpy Cat as a role model. The difference with bipolar disorder is the extremities of the moods (and the frequency).

Someone without bipolar might go through a bit of a giddy spell: “go mad” and exit Pret with two bags of popcorn at lunchtime, despite an initial intent to purchase just the one. A person with bipolar, however, during a manic phase, might sweep into Pret and announce forthwith that they are taking over the chain, because boy, they have so many great ideas. Have you heard all these great ideas though? Listen to these ideas.

Similarly, feeling down and miserable sucks, and it is something we all feel at times. Grief is a normal process. Feeling fed up is normal. Clinical depression, however, (whether unipolar or bipolar), is a devil that chews on bones and gorges on souls and should never be underestimated or undermined.

My response to a lot of bipolar questions. Photograph: Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images

15 Hachiko

Hachiko is one of the Dog Fathers of loyal pets. His story is well renown all around the world but his fame started in Japan. A professor at Tokyo University by the name of Eizoburo Ueno very much longed for a dog. A student recommended that he adopt Hachiko, Hachi for short. They became very close. Some would even say that Hachiko was treated as the professor's son. As Hachiko got older, he started to see the professor off to work at the Shibuya Train Station and wait for his return. On May 21, 1925 Hachiko waited for the professor as usual but he never showed up. The professor had died tragically at work from a cerebral hemorrhage. For 10 years following the untimely death of his owner, Hachiko continued to wait for him at the train station. In 1932, a statue was made to commemorate Hachiko at Shibuya Train Station and Hollywood even produced a movie called Hachi: A Dog's Tale starring Richard Gere to bring his life to the big screen.

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