Grief and regret over the loss of 12 yo Rottweiler

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    This is my first time on I found this site by typing ‘living with regret’ in to Google. My family and I had to have the family dog put to sleep 2 days ago. I can’t stop crying; the grief is unbearable. I can’t stop wondering if we had waited before going through with the process if maybe he would have gotten better. I can’t stop replaying the last few hours of my buddies life over and over in my mind. Just when I think I’m okay, I get an image of his last moments, and my eyes well up with tears.

    My Rottweiler was 12 years, 5 months. As I said, he was the family dog. He was abandoned and we took him in as a 2/3 month old puppy; I was still living at home and 19 at the time. Here is where my grief is married to regret. I moved out 4 years ago and I regret not seeing him enough in his last 4 years. I am mad at myself for not taking more walks with him, for not taking more pictures of him, and especially for not insisting to my parents that they get him straight to the vet when I noticed his weight loss. I don’t know how to accept the choices I made because I feel like I let him down; that I failed him. Even though my fiance and family are very supportive, I can’t explain this to them because they all tell me to stop being so hard on myself. My family is grieving as well, but I don’t think they are caught up in regret the way I am.

    I can not look forward to the future and do better for my buddy now, he is gone. I am having a hard time finding comfort in the things that I did do with him. I know the grief will eventually lighten up ( at least I hope it will), but I don’t know how to live with my regret. Is regret punishment? Or am I being selfish? Please, any thoughts would be appreciated.

    Thank you,


    Hi Beth

    I am sorry for your loss. Dogs are the most amazing companions in this world and there is so much we can learn from them. Grief is a normal reaction at this time so please continue to do so until your heart is filled with love and light. Do not make your grief a permanent state.

    Spirituality provides the solution to your feelings of regret. I am not sure if you are spiritually inclined or not but I will share what my experiences have taught me this far.

    Life on planet earth is temporary. When you are born, the day and time is fixed for your departure at the same time. No doctor or science has been able to change this. That is, we are all destined to go when we are meant to and our soul has decided this before we are born. Therefore, You couldn’t have stopped your buddy from leaving as he is also part of the universal consciousness.

    I am sure your dog is happy wherever he has gone to. He will not be happy to know that you are living in regret. Did you ever see your dog live in regret ? Dogs live in the present moment – always excited to explore even if you have taken them on the same walking path 1000 times, always excited to see you when you come home and ever ready to forgive their human companions even if the dinner was not served on time etc. Dogs are a classic example of unconditional love for their human counterparts.

    While you cannot change your past, you can help yourself by living in the moment. Remember the fond memories of your dog, remember each lesson that he has taught you and take these both into your future. Regret only creates negativity and limits your potential to have a worthwhile existence on this planet.

    Start by forgiving yourself for feeling the regret and pain. Then accept yourself for who you are and move on to loving yourself unconditionally. When you are able to do this for yourself, the same will flow onto everyone around you.

    May you find the strength to move beyond regret and create a life filled with opportunities and light. Your dog loved you for who you are.

    Stay well


    Chris Ellis

    Hi Beth,
    I know exactly how you feel. I too have lost a loved pet and there is nothing like a loss of someone important to make us feel that we could have somehow done better. I think have probably felt that with every loss I have had. The thing I will say to you is that every day, each one of us is doing the absolute best we know how to survive well and to help others survive well. Sometimes we have to make decisions for which there is no happy ending and it is a really sucky part of life.
    But, let me point out something for you. You adopted this guy when he was abandoned. That right there is such a huge deal for a dog. You saved him from a life with no love.
    We always wish we could do more for those we love but sometimes we need to look at what we did do that was right.
    In answer to your other questions, no regret is not punishment, it is just a wish that something never happened. That is all.
    Are you being selfish? no not at all you are grieving for a loved one.
    There is a short process you can do that will make you feel better. Have someone ask you this question: “Find something that is not reminding you of (your dog’s name)”. When we are in grief, everything reminds us of the one we lost. Have the person ask you to find thing after thing in your environment that is not reminding you of your dog and to not say anything other than to simply acknowledge you for answering the question. .At some point you will pop out of the sadness and usually have some sort of realization about life. This is based on technology developed by L Ron Hubbard to assist people who have lost someone they loved. It is called “Loss of a person Assist” but I have done this with my kids when they lost their pets and it works really well. Hope you find this helpful!



    I am deeply sorry for your loss. Though you may not have been there as much for the last 4 years of his life, know that he still led a better life than if you were never to have adopted him. Feel some ease at this distinction.

    Also, dogs are one of the few animals who love us more than they love themselves. Know that your dog would want you to be happy right now. He would not want you to grieve nor want to see you sad therefore honor his death by living as he would want you to. It’s all he would ever want. So forgive yourself because he’s already forgiven you. 🙂 You’ll see each other again eventually. Until then, live a life he’d be proud of.

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