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My dog drowned last night and I feel so much guilt and shame


Ciel

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About a year ago, my 15-year-old dog fell in the pool while outside alone and nearly drowned. The vet said he was developing dementia and that offered an explanation for some strange behaviors we'd noticed in him (like having a hard time navigating the house and backyard, not being able to find his food, etc). He pulled through the near-drowning incident and ever since then, we watch him closely when he's outside and he's never left alone for more than a minute or two at a time. Last night, I let him out and was watching him. He found his leftover dinner bowl and laid down and started eating his food. He's old and has a lot of trouble with his legs and eating takes him a while. I stood there for a minute and then went inside to get a drink. I peeked out the window at him and he was still eating, so I fixed a snack and looked out again and he wasn't at his bowl. I went outside to check on him and there he was in the pool. He was no longer swimming, but the water was moving as if he just was. I pulled him out and he was still alive, but not struggling, just calm. I tried reviving him the best I knew how and felt his body go completely limp and just knew he was gone. He died in my arms, which I'm grateful for, but I'm overwhelmed with guilt and shame for what happened and my negligence. I feel completely responsible for what happened. Had this been the first time he fell in the pool, I feel it would be more forgivable, but I just don't know how I'm going to forgive myself for this. I'm still in shock that he's gone and in shock over how he died. His health was definitely going down hill over the past 6 months, and we've talked many times about putting him down, but I haven't been able to bring myself to have him euthanized. I was waiting for his health to really force my hand, and then this happened and I just feel so incredibly awful. I don't know how I'll ever get the images of seeing him in the pool out of my head. I feel tormented.

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This post has broken my heart I'm so so sorry, I wish I had words to comfort you. I'm new to the site after losing my cat and find the comfort on here has been overwhelming. I don't usually struggle for words but my heart goes out to you xx

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Ciel,

It is so hard, I'm very sorry for your loss.  I'm glad he went peaceably.  He was 15 and you were likely to lose him any time, I've never had a dog live longer than that, but even so I know that's not much consolation, bottom line is you're missing him.  Feeling guilt is a part of grief.  We feel we should be able to protect them, save them from anything and when we can't, we blame ourselves, that's a normal part of grief, but it doesn't mean you deserve to feel that way.  I hope these articles will be of help to you, the first one especially means a lot to me.
http://media.wix.com/ugd/0dd4a5_e934e7f92d104d31bcb334d6c6d63974.pdf 

http://www.pet-loss.net/guilt.shtml

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26 minutes ago, KayC said:

Ciel,

It is so hard, I'm very sorry for your loss.  I'm glad he went peaceably.  He was 15 and you were likely to lose him any time, I've never had a dog live longer than that, but even so I know that's not much consolation, bottom line is you're missing him.  Feeling guilt is a part of grief.  We feel we should be able to protect them, save them from anything and when we can't, we blame ourselves, that's a normal part of grief, but it doesn't mean you deserve to feel that way.  I hope these articles will be of help to you, the first one especially means a lot to me.
http://media.wix.com/ugd/0dd4a5_e934e7f92d104d31bcb334d6c6d63974.pdf 

http://www.pet-loss.net/guilt.shtml

Thank you so much KayC. That article on Guilt being the villain was very helpful. I've been searching for perspective and that is something I will go back to again as I work through this. Thank you for your kind words!

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2 hours ago, Jencatlover said:

This post has broken my heart I'm so so sorry, I wish I had words to comfort you. I'm new to the site after losing my cat and find the comfort on here has been overwhelming. I don't usually struggle for words but my heart goes out to you xx

Thank you for your thoughtfulness, Jencatlover!

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Ciel, this is so so sad, but you have no reason to blame yourself, I know this might sound weird (my head has been going to lots of weird places just lately) but do you think your boy maybe felt it was his time?  I was thinking about something KayC said in a post recently about a cat she had that took himself off to die when he knew it was his time, elephants also do the same.  You say your boys health was failing, he was old and maybe he felt it was time,  you also said he was peaceful and died in your arms which  I think is actually lovely and probably how he wanted to go.  I know this won't ease the pain you feel nothing will, take care of yourself and post here it really does help, the people here are so lovely and really do understand.

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I'm very sorry for your loss but I'm glad that your dog got to live a long and happy life.

I can relate. My dog's heart gave up all of a sudden over the weekend. We think it's because she was a very nervous dog and that the fear that she'd faced in her life had weakened her heart. I feel like I should have taken her fear more seriously and pushed for tests and such, to see of it was having any ill effects on her health.

For what it's worth, I don't think you're at fault. You wanted to extend your time with your best friend; that's understandable. it sounds like you were very careful, but you can't watch them every second of the day; it was a terrible accident. 

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22 hours ago, Sarah&Ava said:

You say your boys health was failing, he was old and maybe he felt it was time,  you also said he was peaceful and died in your arms which  I think is actually lovely and probably how he wanted to go.

That thought had occurred to me also but I didn't know how to word it, you said it perfectly.  

22 hours ago, KMacDW said:

My dog's heart gave up all of a sudden over the weekend. We think it's because she was a very nervous dog and that the fear that she'd faced in her life had weakened her heart.

My dog has separation anxiety.  My previous dog was scared all her life.  I just read this article this morning, and for any of you dealing with anxiety in your dogs, it's worth reading.
https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/common-dog-behavior-issues/separation-anxiety

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On 1/23/2018 at 12:41 PM, KMacDW said:

I'm very sorry for your loss but I'm glad that your dog got to live a long and happy life.

I can relate. My dog's heart gave up all of a sudden over the weekend. We think it's because she was a very nervous dog and that the fear that she'd faced in her life had weakened her heart. I feel like I should have taken her fear more seriously and pushed for tests and such, to see of it was having any ill effects on her health.

For what it's worth, I don't think you're at fault. You wanted to extend your time with your best friend; that's understandable. it sounds like you were very careful, but you can't watch them every second of the day; it was a terrible accident. 

Thank you Kmac! I'm sorry to hear you also lost your dog. Guilt is a powerful enemy. Don't let it get in the way of your grieving and healing. Over the past few days I've been able to pull myself together enough to really think about all the happy memories I had with my dog and how his suffering is over and he is at peace. I've come to realize there is no point in me putting myself through this torture and suffering when he is at peace. I'm trying to focus on all the good. I hope you can do the same about your girl. It's just so hard when it hurts to not have them around any longer.

On 1/23/2018 at 12:38 PM, Sarah&Ava said:

Ciel, this is so so sad, but you have no reason to blame yourself, I know this might sound weird (my head has been going to lots of weird places just lately) but do you think your boy maybe felt it was his time?  I was thinking about something KayC said in a post recently about a cat she had that took himself off to die when he knew it was his time, elephants also do the same.  You say your boys health was failing, he was old and maybe he felt it was time,  you also said he was peaceful and died in your arms which  I think is actually lovely and probably how he wanted to go.  I know this won't ease the pain you feel nothing will, take care of yourself and post here it really does help, the people here are so lovely and really do understand.

Thank you Sarah&Ava. He had definitely been struggling lately and I knew his time would come soon. I'm comforted thinking that he is not in anymore pain and he's at peace. I just miss him so much.

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18 hours ago, Ciel said:

Thank you Kmac! I'm sorry to hear you also lost your dog. Guilt is a powerful enemy. Don't let it get in the way of your grieving and healing. Over the past few days I've been able to pull myself together enough to really think about all the happy memories I had with my dog and how his suffering is over and he is at peace. I've come to realize there is no point in me putting myself through this torture and suffering when he is at peace. I'm trying to focus on all the good. I hope you can do the same about your girl. It's just so hard when it hurts to not have them around any longer.

Thank you. I've found it gets easier day by day. I feel Kaci would want me to keep pressing forward and remember the happy times, rather than dwelling on her death, something that ultimately no one could have foreseen. Yesterday I was able to swipe through some photos of her and only think happy thoughts. 

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I know how sad you are but good to read this. When you can look at photos and have happy memories, I feel like that is a big step. It's so easy to wallow in guilt and regret and it really holds us back from being able to grieve and to remember. I did that for way too long.

 

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I just lost my precious dog in almost the exact same scenario two days ago. I am devastated and the grief and guilt is overwhelming me. Our little Zoe was 20 years old, deaf and blind. We had her from a tiny little pup. She too had fallen in the pool before, but landed on a step so she was ok. How could I not have taken the first lucky instance more serious? I tried to keep an eye on her, but I failed and she paid the price. I cannot stop crying and picturing it in my head. Imaging her panic and last moments. I would love to know how you are now and how long it was before you felt some peace with it all. 

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The originator of this thread has not been back since January and it was a year after the fact when they wrote here, so I think that answers your question...besides which each person is individual with their grief response just as every relationship is also unique.  Do not let someone else's experience hinder your healing though.  I am very sorry for your loss!  This feels the hardest thing we can go through!  I lost my Arlie (cancer) 14 months ago, it's hard for me to believe this time has gone by and I'm still here, I did not see how I could live without him, it's very much like when I lost my husband 15 years ago.  I've had 25 dogs and cats plus parakeets, pigeons, chickens, but Arlie was the one who was my soulmate in a dog, he was my beloved, perfect for me, so smart, goofy, fun, I miss him with all my heart.  I hate that their lives are so short (he was 11 1/2) no amount of time would have been enough for me.  I look forward to being with him again, and that gets me through...

http://media.wix.com/ugd/0dd4a5_e934e7f92d104d31bcb334d6c6d63974.pdf
http://www.pet-loss.net/guilt.shtml
http://www.griefhealing.com/article-loss-and-the-burden-of-guilt.htm
https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2019/08/pet-loss-when-guilt-overshadows-grief.html

https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2017/07/pet-loss-when-guilt-goes-unresolved.html
It is not our grief that binds us to them, it is our love, and it continues still.

I hope this brings you some comfort and peace:

 

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Thank you for your comment. I saw that the original post was from 2018, but the loss of their pet had just happened the night before the post, not a year prior. So I was hoping they might have an update as to how they are now and when they began to heal. I am a total wreck. I can’t stop imagining her struggling to get out to pool, but being blind she was unable to see. 
 

Thank you again and for the links and sweet video. 

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Hello @AJT1995 - I am SO sorry for your loss. I had a different situation but I understand your anguish. We lost our cat at a summer vacation house - it seems he got poisoned somehow. He was totally indoor and we never found anything he got into. It's still a mystery. But his last couple hours, he was violently sick and his organs failed. The fact is he suffered and it was horrible. We rushed to an emergency vet who couldn't save him. Eventually we put him down.

So, I understand your anguish. Guilt, etc. It took me some time I won't lie. The first few days I was in shock. This cat was like our child for 10 years. I couldn't stop crying or thinking about it. After a couple weeks I settled into grief, coming to grips with what happened. The grief continued, coming in waves, overwhelming and then resigned. Life goes on.

But you still are on a rollercoaster. I imagine you will be on that as well.

Be patient. Hang in there. It's not easy. But I promise you will not feel like you do now forever. You will find peace and you will have all the good memories. Again, I am so so sorry to read of your loss. Please write again and if I can help you, I will. I understand so well where you are.       

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I've lost a dog too, and beleive me, its hard. No part about grief is easy. Just try to make yourself feel better by laughing.

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We lost our beloved miniature pinscher Zoe yesterday morning to a terrible pool accident. She was part of our lives for almost 15 years and our entire family is devastated.  So much guilt on my part feeling as I should have done more to keep her safe. We miss her immensely and every way she would greet us. Watching her sunbathing was our favorite thing to see. Please pray for our Zoe and our family. We greatly appreciate it, Thank You. 

Edited by Lorenzo
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Oh no @Lorenzo I am so sorry for your tragic loss. :( My cat died due most likely to an accidentally poisoning and it was absolutely awful. I know how bad you feel, hang in there. 

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On 12/5/2021 at 5:47 PM, Lorenzo said:

We lost our beloved miniature pinscher Zoe yesterday morning to a terrible pool accident. She was part of our lives for almost 15 years and our entire family is devastated.  So much guilt on my part feeling as I should have done more to keep her safe. We miss her immensely and every way she would greet us. Watching her sunbathing was our favorite thing to see. Please pray for our Zoe and our family. We greatly appreciate it, Thank You. 

I am so sorry, this post didn't show up for ten days to me!  Please forgive our lateness in responding, sometimes websites get glitches, no idea why.

I am glad you found your way here, and hope this isn't too late to be of help to you.  It's horribly tragic and I am so sorry you lost her.  15 years is a long time, I only had one dog live to 14 and I was her fourth and final owner, had her the last 12 years.

On 12/5/2021 at 5:47 PM, Lorenzo said:

Please pray for our Zoe and our family.

You've got my prayers.  And I want to make sure you see these articles and video as well:

 

 

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I lost my dog Cody this past Monday night. Cody was 16.5 years old and his health has really deteriorated in the last 4-6 months.

He was scared to death of our pool and had 16 years of habit of staying very clear of it. My worst fear was realized on Monday night. We were headed out the door for a birthday dinner for my dad and we were in a hurry. It was raining and the thought briefly crossed my mind to let Cody stay in the house but he has been having issues this past year and needs to go to the bathroom very frequently and he makes quite a mess too. So, leaving him in the house has been difficult. Nevertheless, the thought crossed my mind because it was raining and ohh how I wish I could redo that moment.

Cody could still see just a bit but was mostly blind and he couldn't hear very well either. I got home from a really nice family dinner and immediately went to let him in as I always do. Since he can't see very well I would turn the patio lights on and off repeatedly and that would always get his attention and he would come out of his dog house and head for the door. That night he didn't.

I walked out to peak into his doghouse and he wasn't there. It was still raining pretty hard. I then looked towards the pool and there he was, floating in the middle. I ran and grabbed our pool skim pole and brought Cody over to the edge and frantically lifted his limp body out of the pool. Crying hysterically by that point, my wife and I dried him off, brought him into this house and wrapped him in his favorite blanket and set him in his bed.

I miss him absolutely terribly. He has been right by my side every day for over 16 years now. I am just wrecked with guilt over how he died and how scared he must of been and that I wasn't there for him when he needed me. I'm thinking that with the heavy rain fall, he was disoriented and fell in the pool, or perhaps the last remaining eyesight he had may have left him and he went completely blind.

That night, finding him that way will just not leave my mind though. It plays in a never-ending loop. I am heartbroken.  -Todd

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I am so sorry, I can only imagine how devastated you feel, esp. with that image.  It's the hardest thing in the world.  My heart goes out to you both.
I hope this brings you some comfort and peace...knowing you provided him a long and happy life.  We often go through the what ifs in early grief because what transpired is too difficult to process, and we look for some different possible outcome, also as we see our roles as their protectors, only we can't protect them from everything.  :(

http://media.wix.com/ugd/0dd4a5_e934e7f92d104d31bcb334d6c6d63974.pdf
http://www.pet-loss.net/guilt.shtml
http://www.griefhealing.com/article-loss-and-the-burden-of-guilt.htm
https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2019/08/pet-loss-when-guilt-overshadows-grief.html

https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2017/07/pet-loss-when-guilt-goes-unresolved.html
It is not our grief that binds us to them, it is our love, and it continues still.

Accidental Death
Comfort for Grieving Animal Lovers

 

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