Grief and Guilt from the Loss of Our Beloved Pet

I miss my Chewy so much

Chewy — image by the author

Our fur baby Chewy died on Saturday, August 27, 2022. He woke up struggling to breathe and gasping for air, so we rushed him to the 24-hour emergency vet clinic. Chewy went into cardiac arrest and the vet could not save him. He died between 3:30 and 4:00 a.m. I am devastated and can’t seem to find myself.

Chewy, our 10-year-old Dachshund/Chihuahua mix (Chiweenie), was a small 20 pounds little guy. He came when I needed him the most since I was grieving the loss of my oldest son. Rejected by his mommy, he was the runt of the pack. We rescued him at only 5 weeks old. Chewy was unique. He did not lift his leg to pee, hated other dogs, therefore sniffed no other dog’s butt; and did not like dog food so he ate fresh homemade food consisting of boiled chicken breast, white rice with peas, and carrots. He was nosy as can be; loved, loved, loved bread, and once it was time for night-night, burrowed under the covers from head to toe. I never doubted he was a gift sent from my son in heaven. My son loved bread, was very nosy, and slept covered from head to toe. Ever since he came home to live with us, he always slept in his crate, but we never closed it. Therefore, he would usually jump onto our bed at about 4 or 5 a.m. We never minded it.

But Chewy had some health issues. He was born with a heart murmur and though many pups outgrow it; it was not Chewy’s case. The vet began treating him with medication once she realized he would not outgrow it. We knew that eventually, he would die from this condition since it was progressing so quickly. I asked the vet how long he would live with this condition. The vet told us there was no way to know. It could be 1 to 2 years, maybe months, or any day now. I also asked if he was suffering. She did not think he was since he was jumping up and down from the clinic’s chairs. Signs that I should look for to know he was suffering were not eating nor drinking water, lethargy, coughing, vomiting, and/or not wanting to go outside for his necessities.

Chewy and Mommy — image by the author

We took all the precautions necessary to extend his life. We raised Chewy with home-cooked non-fat meals and veggie treats. Now and then, we’d treat him to an ice cream pup cup, which he loved. But in July 2022, he was already at stage 5 and began coughing a lot, prompting the vet to prescribe yet another medication for cough plus an increase in the diuretic medication dose. His heart was already double its size. He had fluid in his lungs and liver inflammation. The vet warned us that at some point we might have to consider putting him to sleep because his health was steadily declining. Too much, stress, anxiety, or excitement could cause him to have a fatal heart attack. We monitored his health intensely, more so than our own health, I’d say. We set up alarms for his medication to not miss a dose, made sure someone was always home to give him his medication, not cause him any stress, anxiety, or too much excitement and gave him so much love. He was super spoiled by us, but we did not mind because we loved him so much.

We enjoy traveling and do so every year. It never seemed to be a problem for Chewy. Our youngest son lives with us and my mother stayed over for pet sitting whenever my son was not in town.

Back in September 2021, our daughter booked a cruise for us on August 19–26, 2022. We had considered canceling it various times because of Chewy’s condition and some health issues I had. But seeing that Chewy’s medications were working, and he was stable, we went ahead anyway. Though deep down inside, I felt we should have postponed it. We knew our son and my mother would care for him just as well as we did, so we continued our travel plans. In my head, it was a battle between cruising with my daughter and son-in-law and not disappointing them or postponing it for another time. We opted to continue with our travel plans instead. Once we were ready to leave, we could see Chewy’s sadness, especially him being so close to me. And though I left, it broke my heart.

Chewy was not feeling well — image by the author

Chewy’s little heart could not understand that we were coming back like so many other times when we traveled. He probably thought we had abandoned him, and his sadness deepened. He did not want to take his medication. All the methods we tried with him only worked with us. My mother nor my son could get him to take his medication, though they tried many methods. His health declined. My son contacted the vet only to be reminded that Chewy’s days were counted and that we needed to face the fact that he’d be gone soon. She reiterated that to avoid his suffering; we needed to decide to put him to sleep. For us, that was not an option.

Our son contacted us to let us know about the situation he was facing with Chewy. I cried every day most of the day since we left. One day at sea was overwhelming, painful, stressful, non-enjoyable, and one too many. Once we reached Alaska two days after leaving, we headed straight to the airport and came back home to Chewy. Three flights later, two time zones, and I don’t know how many hours of flying, we were finally back home. The stress was killing me.

Arriving was not that easy. We had to come up with a scheme to avoid Chewy getting excited when he saw us. A lot of excitement could cause him a fatal heart attack. That meant we could not park in our driveway since he recognized the sound of our car or place the key in the keyhole. My son noticed that whenever my mother opened the front door, he did not move, nor was he curious to see why she was opening the door. Therefore, his plan was for us to park across the street and walk to our house without our luggage. My mother opened the door for us and once inside, we sat on the floor before calling his name. When he heard my husband call his name, he jumped from my son’s bed and excitedly ran to us with a wagging tail. According to our son, that happy little guy was not the Chewy he spent the last couple of days with.

My baby Chewy — image by the author

Just seeing Chewy made me cry. How could I have left him knowing he was sick? How could I have been so selfish? From that day on, we did not leave Chewy’s side. I felt it lifted an enormous weight off my shoulders just to be home with him. That is when reality kicked in and I knew Chewy was living his last few days and we needed to make these the best. As a pet owner, I did not want to think about him leaving us, though the signs were there. Every time I looked at him, I cried. I did not want to go through this again. I still grieve over the loss of my oldest son, who died in 2007. Chewy was not just a pet to me. He was family. I did not want to go through this again.

The following day, Tuesday, August 22, we were able to get him to take his meds. He seemed to feel better — more energy, excitement, and eating. I held on tight to him, doting on his every need. But on Wednesday it all changed. He did not want to eat his food, let alone any medication, and spent most of his day either on my husband’s lap or mine. And since he was not taking his meds, he coughed a lot. Every time he coughed, I’d pick him up and walk around the living room coffee table. I noticed it calmed him a bit and his cough would subside for a while.

Thursday was the same situation, though he ate, drank water, and went outside for his necessities. I called the vet but got the same response from her. We did not have it in our hearts to put him to sleep. We preferred he left on his own terms. I held on to the vet’s words, “Watch for the signs of no eating or drinking water, or going outside for his necessities.”

Seeing that he was not getting better, I made my peace with him that night while carrying him and walking around the coffee table at 1 a.m. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I spoke to Chewy with loving words, letting him know how much I loved him, that he could go in peace, and I’d be okay.

Though my heart was breaking, I noticed I did not cry on Friday. Chewy’s condition was still the same as the previous two days, but he was still eating, drinking water, and doing his necessities outside. For whatever reason, I seemed more at ease — possibly because I had made my peace with him.

That Friday night, as usual, we went to sleep at around midnight. Due to him being so fragile, he slept on our bed between us the entire night these past few days instead of in his crate. Suddenly, Chewy began coughing. My husband picked him up and began walking around the living room coffee table. The method seemed to work throughout the week, so we continued to do it as often as needed. We were tired from our trip’s jetlag, the stress of Chewy’s condition, and sleepless nights tending to Chewy’s needs. And, though he was only 20 pounds, my arms were aching. Tired and all, we continued to take turns carrying him while walking around the living room table. Most of the time during the week, the coughing would stop, which allowed us and him to sleep for about two hours before he began coughing again. But on this Friday night, the coughing only stopped for about 3 minutes, prompting us to take turns walking him around the coffee table. But this night was different. I noticed his body was feeling limp. Therefore, we drove him to the 24-hour emergency vet clinic.

We arrived at the clinic at about 3:30 a.m. They sent us in immediately. A vet assistant grabbed Chewy to get him started on oxygen, while another assistant took us to a room to complete some forms. The vet walked in to let us know they were getting him started on a catheter and doing some testing and she walked out, but she immediately returned saying, “He’s going. Do you want to be there with him?” Of course, we jumped and ran to Chewy’s side.

Forever in my heart — image by the author

The scene was heartbreaking. His tongue was hanging out of his mouth and his eyes were half closed. His body was limply laid on the exam table. I hated seeing him this way. We stroked his body and told him how much we loved him. We kissed him and let him know it was okay to leave. The vet assistant was still trying to get the catheter going when he suddenly took a deep breath, and sighed, then he was gone. My fur baby was gone.

Tears filled my eyes. I was numb. I felt so much pain. Why? I am so angry at myself because I abandoned him when he needed me the most. So much hurt and so many questions. I don’t know if he knew we were there with him and that kills me. Did he know he was not alone? Did he suffer? Was there anything else we could have done to prevent him from dying? My heart is breaking to pieces even as I write this.

I’m breaking apart. But, thinking back on the events of the week, I realize that while I walked around the coffee table with him on Thursday night; the next day, Friday, I felt peace. I think Chewy noticed it too. I think he was waiting for that. My husband had made his peace with Chewy on Wednesday, as well as my son. Chewy waited for me. He waited for his momma to be ready to let him go. Though my words to him said I was ready, my heart was not. But he needed to hear that I’d be okay. Chewy was a good boy and will always remain in my heart. Now I have two angels in heaven — my son Richie, and Chewy, my beloved fur baby.

Rest in peace, my boys. Mommy loves you both.

Originally published at



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Debbie's Reflection

❤ I’m a Medium, a Spiritualist, and a yogi who enjoys traveling and meditation. I’m also a blogger for Traveler Wows and Debbie’s Reflection. ❤