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My Beloved Abbey


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hello, i just lost my beloved 8 year old rottweiller named abbey. she was my baby, spoled in every way-when i got her from the pound she was about 1/2 years old in 2001. anyway, she never wanted or nedded for anything. she prefered staying in bed, or lounged on the couch more than anything!!!

well, it started off like any other day-i was getting ready for work, and my neighbor came over for coffee. he brought abbey (who he dearly loved) and my cocker spaniel steak bones-i rarely let her have those in her life, and i don't know why that morning, i let her, and i thought it would make her happy. when i left for work, it seemed she was fine, i said i love you guys, see you after work. came home to abbey on the kitchen floor and couldn't move, i stuck my hand down her throat to see if anything was there,, there wasn't, so i called my neighbor frantically to help me carry her to the car-he managed the stregnth to hold all 110 lbs of her and i drove like mad to the vet-they tried to calm me down by telling me she would be ok-they gave her valium and took her back to x-ray-within a 1/2 hour, she died. they had given her oxygen because she had a piece of bone lodged in the begining of her stomach, and she was wasn't getting enough air. i am sick over her suffering-how could i not know? how could i go to work? how did i not know? oh, my god i can hardly make it through my days. i've cried so hard so long, i've tried to imagine her there, why didn't i know? oh, god, please let me know she's ok, and tell her how sorry i am-i will love her always and forever, and i just got her ashes saturday-i will bury her with me. i just want my dog back, it hurts so much without her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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My dear friend,

I am so very sorry to learn of the death of your beloved rottie Abbey, and I can only imagine how painful this must be for you. Please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss, and know that I am thinking of you.

The circumstances of Abbey's death suggest to me that you may be feeling very guilty and even angry with yourself for whatever part you think you may have played in her death. But at a time like this it's important for you to remember that you did not deliberately set out to bring any harm to your beloved dog. Like all the rest of us, you are human, terrible accidents do happen, and there was nothing intentional about this at all. Guilt and anger are powerful emotions that can be frightening, but keep in mind that feelings are neither right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. What really matters is what you do with what you're feeling. When you simply acknowledge feelings of guilt and anger to yourself or to a trusted other without actually doing anything about them, no harm is done, to you or to anyone else.

Anger is sheer, raw energy, but you can find healthy ways to discharge that energy and channel it – through physical exercise, writing and talking, for example.

Feelings aren't always rational or accurate, either. Feeling guilty about the circumstances surrounding Abbey’s death doesn't mean that you are, in fact, an uncaring, irresponsible dog owner who intentionally set out to bring harm to your dog. As I'm sure you know, one of the most wonderful things about our animal companions (unlike humans!) is that they love us unconditionally, they are forgiving of all our human faults, and they never, ever hold a grudge against us. If anyone knew how much she was loved by you for the time that she was in your life and a member of your family, surely it was your precious Abbey.

In the end, there is nothing anyone can say to lift from your shoulders the load of guilt that you may be carrying around with you now. The only one who truly can forgive you is yourself. Guilt is one of the most common reactions in loss – and in situations such as this, it is only human nature for you to feel guilt for what you may have done or failed to do. If after examining all the facts you decide that you should have done things differently, then the only thing you can do at this point is to learn from your mistake and promise yourself that if you are ever presented with the exact same set of circumstances again, you will do things differently next time. A sudden, unexpected death like this can teach some valuable lessons about how fragile and temporary life is, and that if we have something to say to someone we had better say it now, because we may never get the chance again to say it. Can you let this be one of Abbey’s legacies to you – one of the precious life lessons you can take from this tragic loss? You know, just by having the courage to post your tragic story here, in this public forum, you are educating many other animal lovers about the dangers of feeding bones to dogs. Are there any other lessons here that you may need to learn? Take some time to think about about all of this. It is one of the most important tasks in mourning: to find meaning in this loss.

In any event, my dear, there is nothing you can do now to go back and change what has already been done. Instead, to cope with the guilt you might try to find some way to communicate with Abbey’s spirit and ask for her forgiveness. That may be by meditating, by writing her a letter and saying all you need to say to her, by finding a quiet place and lighting a candle and speaking to her in your mind – whatever way you choose is up to you. The point of all of this is to find some way to forgive yourself, to apologize and make amends to the one you believe you have harmed, to learn from your mistake and to move on. That's the only way you will heal from this loss.

Guilt and anger can eat you alive unless you find someone to talk to about your feelings, someone who will help you look at the situation more objectively. If you find that posting here is not enough, I encourage you to find someone you can talk to in person who understands the bond you felt with Abbey, who understands the mourning process and will listen to you without judging you. I don't know if there are any pet loss services in your area, but since you have access to a computer, you might try calling one of the pet loss telephone helplines listed on the Pet Loss Helplines, Message Boards, Chats page of my Grief Healing Web site. If you feel a need for more than that, you can go to the State-by-State Guide to Support Groups, Counselors & Pet Cemeteries. Sometimes sharing our story enables us to unburden ourselves and to obtain the absolution we may need from others. None of us is perfect; we are all human, we've all made mistakes and we've all done things about which we feel guilty.

I know you’ve already obtained another rottie pup, but it’s important that you take the time needed to grieve this loss of Abbey, including the processing of and coming to terms with all that anger and guilt you may be feeling over the circumstances of her accidental death. (See my articles, Pet Loss: A Disenfranchised Grief and Loss and the Burden of Guilt. )

I hope this information helps, my dear. Please know that my heart goes out to you at this sad and difficult time.

Wishing you peace and healing,


P.S. You (and others reading your tragic story) may find these articles informative:

Raw Bones or Cooked Bones – Are Either Safe?

Feeding Raw Bones to Dogs

BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) for Adult Dogs

Catering to Canines

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  • 2 weeks later...


I am sorry you lost your beloved dog, it is a hard thing to go through.

Marty, you have made some very good points. I want to add that guilt has a role in our lives, albeit a very short lived role, and that is to draw our attention to something that needs change. Beyond that,when we have already dealt with it as much as we can, it is no longer guilt that shouts at us, but shame. Shame has no positive purpose but it accuses us in a detrimental way and tries to keep us there when we should be moving past it and it tries to hold us down. We should not accept shame, but rather reject it on the spot, so that we can move into a healthier more positive frame of mind, one of positive production rather than negative. It is important to recognize the difference. If we have learned from an experience and resolved not to repeat our mistake and have taken steps to remedy it as much as possible, we should not feel guilty but to our credit, we have learned and are better for it...sometimes we still have consequences to be endured, but we should not continue to feel guilt.


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