How do you deal with Pet loss?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Pisky, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. Pisky

    Pisky Registered User

    Oct 3, 2014
    My father thinks the world of their dog. At 16 and poorly the dog will soon need to be put down.

    The problem is is the dog isn't around my dad goes and looks for him. last year we popped to the park and accidentally forgot to write it on his board. we took the dog, by the time we got back dad was frantic. He had even called the neighbour in.

    I think he will only intermittently remember that the dog is dead if at all. This could cause major issues as he will go looking for him if mum needs to go out for anything.

    also it must be a nightmare for the grieving process.

    has anyone dealt with this before please and do you have any tips?
  2. AnneED

    AnneED Registered User

    Feb 19, 2012
    East Yorkshire UK
    We have dealt with this but it actually went quite well so may not be helpful. Mum's cat died at the age of 18, fortunately quite suddenly. Wasn't sure what to do (she was out with a friend when it happened but was aware that the cat was elderly.)

    I decided to be relatively upfront about it and told her. We then had a small burial in the garden that I organised to be a bit of a funeral as that is what has happened with her pets before.

    I did ask her if she wanted another cat as carers had taken good care of the previous cat and told me when she became unwell - I was prepared to go there for a few days and settle in a middle aged rescue cat if either she said she wanted one, or if she didn't remember the cat had died or had problems without it. She said no.

    I bought a plant for the spot where the cat was so I could refer her back to it if necessary.

    She dealt with the whole thing fine and remembered that the cat was dead and that she didn't want another (unlike her car which she still after 3 years thinks is at a garage being repaired.) There was more activity in the house - she may have been looking for a 'lost thing' but it was never clearly the cat.

    However the down side was that she started talking about Aunties who died many years ago as having recently died and that she needed to go to their funerals. This popped up quite a bit sometimes rather unexpectedly (when out on a day trip with a cousin she demanded to be taken to the funeral of one who had died 10 years earlier). What helped was that at that point (a few days later) she went for a respite stay at a home for a couple of weeks and when she went home she was quite aware that the cat was dead and the talk of funerals had stopped.

    People vary but I do think that people with dementia can manage having a pet - clearly your dad does in the current situation - if there is support with it's needs and they behave appropriately, so maybe another middle aged laid back dog (maybe from the Cinnamon Trust who rehome pets whose owner has died to other similar homes?) This would of course be down to your mum and whether she could cope. Otherwise it would have to be the 'love lies' about the dog being at the vets/ out with grandchildren or whatever else would strike your dad as a reasonable explanation for it's absence. Arguing that the dog id dead if he thinks it's not is probably the last option, from my experience.
  3. Bod

    Bod Registered User

    Aug 30, 2013
    Would a stuffed toy dog be any help?
    Put the old dogs collar on, keep in the old dogs favourite place.

  4. Amelie5a

    Amelie5a Registered User

    Nov 5, 2014
    #4 Amelie5a, Jan 12, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2016
    When Dad's cat had to be put to sleep

    Hi Pisky, unfortunately this was something I had to deal with last summer. As I've already posted the experience on another thread, I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to copy and paste it here. (Can't link to it as I haven't posted enough yet)

    "My Dad (88) has mixed dementia which - touch wood - has remained relatively static since diagnosis early last year. He still lives at home with support.

    He was devoted to his cat of 13+ years and my sisters and I often said that we hoped Dad passed before the cat did, as we weren't sure how he'd handle it.

    But a few months ago, one Sunday morning when I was staying over, Dad shot into my bedroom in the morning, distressed because he'd found the cat on the floor and she couldn't move properly. We nursed her all day - she spent most of the day on dad's lap and there were lots of tears.

    Come Monday, I contacted a vet - explaining the situation, including telling them about Dad's dementia. The vet couldn't come to the house - we had to go to the surgery. I asked Dad if he wanted me to take puss on my own, but no, he wanted to come too. So off we went, puss on Dad's lap. At the vet's, he stayed in the car with puss until the vet was ready to see us.

    As expected, the vet felt the best option was to put puss to sleep. She talked to Dad all the way through, and he made the decisions. I was confident that, in the moment, he knew exactly what was happening and it was right that he was able to make the choices - not being there when she was put to sleep, cremation, no return of ashes, etc

    Dad was very upset - not surprisingly. (Me too!) But, looking back, his involvement really helped the grieving process and the memory that his beloved cat was no more. He only once 'forgot' - and that was when he woke up from a sleep after we got back from the vet.

    I was worried that Dad wouldn't remember longer term and would be out looking for his cat - but no, he's always retained the core memory of what happened i.e. puss is no more, even if all the detail has gone. He has a lovely photo of her beside his chair and will still talk about her, 'tho less so in recent months.

    Obviously, every PWD is different - but thought I'd share how we ended up handling the death of a beloved pet. I didn't plan it, just took one step at a time depending on how Dad was".
  5. Pisky

    Pisky Registered User

    Oct 3, 2014
    thank you everyone

    thank you everyone for your replies. It was actually quite hard to read them as they were all sad events.

    Unfortunately for me what I didn't realize when I wrote the post was that Teddi had gotten worse that day and he was being taken to be put down that afternoon.

    He didn't make it. He died in dads arms while they were waiting for the vet.

    Next day not a problem. Then he realized and became upset. then forgot then became upset.
    this morning however he is asking where the dog is and can they help him etc.

    we had hoped that something that traumatic would stick with him and he would remember but at the moment he hasn't.
  6. AlsoConfused

    AlsoConfused Registered User

    Sep 17, 2010
    I read somewhere grief is the price we pay for love and I think eventually, once the pain's faded a bit, all of us - those with or without dementia - probably think it's a price worth paying.

    I hope your Dad's one of the relatively fortunate people who only remember their losses occasionally and who can be distracted quickly from such painful memories. It will be so hard for you too, to provide support to your Dad without becoming distracted by your own sadness.
  7. mompain22

    mompain22 New member

    Jul 10, 2019
    How do we help my mom deal with her cat death. She had him for 10 yrs. She has dementia. I need help
  8. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    What is happening at the moment @mompain?
    Does she remember that he has died and is getting very upset, or does she not remember and is looking for him?
    How you deal with it depends on how she is reacting.
  9. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    hi @mompain22
    you wrote in another post that your mum cries at every night for her cat and is wanting to go look for him but he passed away 6 months ago.
    I wouldn't suggest getting another cat for her, unless you are sure she can take proper care of it; might your mum, though, be comforted by a toy cat, so she has something to cuddle
    as she doesn't retain the fact that her cat has died, is it possible to come up with a story that she will accept but doesn't face her with the sad truth every evening ... maybe he's at their lovely vet recuperating for a few days and being pampered, lucky cat (may work if this has ever happened before) .. anything to give her a good reson to stop looking for him, then you can immediately suggest a mug of milk before bedtime, her favourite treat, a TVprogramme, so she is distracted and you break her yrain of thought ... if she does mention the cat again, say exactly the same thing almost word for word, don't explain, then distract again
  10. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    The cuddly toy route worked for my mother. Her cat didn't die, she was parted from him when she moved to a care home, so it's a slightly different situation. She was initially upset and kept asking where he was and why he hadn't come to see her, but she adopted a cuddly toy (actually, several) and now carries one of them around. She doesn't mention her cat now.

    I think it would have been a lot harder though if my mother had still been in her own home, in a place she always expected to see her cat, it would have been harder for her to accept. I hope Shedrech's advice helps.
  11. Morrisey

    Morrisey New member

    Nov 20, 2019
    My mother can no longer keep her elderly pet with her in a memory care facility. None of the family want the dog. What do I do?
  12. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    If none of the family will take the dog, you will have to do what I did - rehome the pet. I contacted a rescue society and they found the cat a new home.
  13. nellbelles

    nellbelles Volunteer Host

    Nov 6, 2008

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