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The following stories were written by animal carers who have contacted Solace, to share their experiences of loss and pay tribute to the memory of a much-loved pet.

Hey Min!

I'd like to share my story about my dog Mindy and my experience of having to put her to sleep in the hope that it will help somebody who is facing this difficult decision. I had Mindy since she was a 9 week old, little ball of fluff, right up until she was 14 years old, and she was a huge part of our family for all those years.

She was very intelligent and tuned into everything that was going on at home. She even kept our four cats in check. If there was a little squabble brewing, she was onto it, and would round them up like sheep! It was really funny to watch. I was home a lot, and Mindy was my little pal, she followed me everywhere, especially when she became deaf. 

In the last year of her life she was diagnosed with a cancerous growth on her leg and there was nothing the vet could do other that keep her comfortable and pain free, so that was what we did. I knew the time was coming for her to go and I wished she'd just pass away in her sleep, but the vet said that this would be unlikely to happen. So I would think “how do I do this!!!”, “how do I know when it’s the right time?” Then a friend gave me the Solace website address and I spoke to Annie. She listened as I poured out my story about how I was struggling with it all. She gave me great support and told me to trust my feelings and to watch Mindy as she'd let me know when she'd had enough, and the vet supported that too. Mindy did let me know. She started refusing to take her medication. It was her way of telling me it was time. So I made an appointment with the vet and we talked over how I would like it to be for her. Mindy trusted me and I wanted to get it right. I brought her little duvet with me on 'the day' and I stroked her face, telling her she was all right. Then the vet gave her the injection and said she was gone. We wrapped her in her little blanket and I sat with her for a while, it was very peaceful.

Liz (Co. Dublin)

My Bessie Girl

I wish to thank Solace for the help and support I received after my dog Bess was killed by a train. 

Bess was a black and white Wicklow collie. She arrived at our house at the age of 4 weeks and we fell in love with her. I had lost my 5-year-old daughter Sarah a few years before and so Bess brought life back into our home and family. She was someone to come home to.

Later in life, Bess had five puppies. She was a very good mother but having puppies so late in life was hard on her, and she needed help with the night time feeding. Every night, Bess would wake to the cries of the puppies, give each one of them a lick and then toddle back to bed, leaving me to do the rounds with the saucers of warm milk and ready brek!

When the time came, we found good homes for all of them and kept one for ourselves, we called him Ringo.

One Saturday, Bess, Ringo (and his brother Jake) were going for a walk with my husband and Jake’s owner – along the beach by the Wicklow train track. Bess and the pups were walking on ahead when suddenly they ran onto the track, just as the train was coming around the corner. My husband and Jake's owner saw what was happening and ran after them but could not get there in time. Then Bess, realising the danger, ran the puppies off the track. But did not make it off herself. She was hit by the train, knocked over onto the rocks and killed instantly. When my husband arrived back and told me what had happened, I could not believe it.  My Bess was never coming home again.  My heart was broken. It was like losing my daughter all over again.

Then one day I came across Solace and contacted Annie. It's amazing how much relief you can get just from being able to tell someone about your feelings. Even though this accident happened many years ago, I never felt I got it out of my system. Annie suggested that I speak with a counsellor as she felt that the loss of my daughter Sarah and Bess were very closely connected.

Bernie (Co. Wicklow)

My Special One

Oscar was my little friend for nearly 5 years, the most happy, inquisitive, playful, sensitive and loving little rabbit anyone could ever meet.

I was living in an apartment at the time but luckily there was a big wild garden at the back and some green in the front too. Oscar was never put out by the neighbourhood cats and loved acting the party clown at next doors BBQ's. He was never left out of anything and when friends called they always got the full nosey welcome of going through their bags and sniffing round in circles. Everyone had to give him the obligatory rubs before conversation could begin.

Oscar was about 6 months old when I got him and as he had only been given cheap non-nutritious food at the pet shop, he refused to eat hay and vegetables.  He eventually got to like one vegetable (broccoli) but the damage had been done and there was gum disease deep in the roots of his teeth.

When Oscar was about three and a half he stopped eating so I took him to my local vet but he did not offer a good prognosis. He said that rabbits generally don’t respond well to antibiotics, anaesthetics or medication so I decided to try a homeopathic vet.  Oscar was given a remedy and he began to thrive. For over a year he was the healthiest bunny alive. Then one morning I noticed not a morsel of food had been touched and my vet discovered an abscess under Oscar’s mouth.  He did all he could to make Oscar pain free but the painkillers were having a damaging effect on his liver. As the week went by the abscess got bigger and bigger (despite my draining it every day) so Oscar was given a pain killing injection and I headed down to the homeopathic vet - hoping for another miracle!  The homeopathic vet who had first treated Oscar wasn’t available but a trainee was there and she said he would have to stay overnight. I felt awful as Oscar had never spent the night anywhere strange before and I had a gut feeling that I'd never see him again!  

The next morning I spoke to the vet and he told me the news was bad and I broke down. The drive down to collect Oscar was awful and when he was handed to me (wrapped in his blue blanket) I kept expecting to see his little nose peep out, to let me know all was well. I cried for days and the guilt I had over leaving him to die alone was overwhelming. In the end I looked up pet loss on the Internet and came across Solace. I rang the number and was so relieved when I spoke to Annie. She completely understood the loss - no matter whether it was dog, cat, parrot, rabbit or hamster.

I will always have rabbits as I love their energy but Oscar was 'my special one' and will never be forgotten. 

Natasha (Co. Cork)


I lost my horse Milly some time back and found it very difficult to talk openly about it. I had her from when she was 6 months old. She was a wonderful animal, full of life and stroppy at times! I spent every day with her, grooming, feeding, and mucking out.

When she took ill, it was painful to watch her deteriorate, and when I was told by the vet that she would have to be put down, I was devastated. Milly was only 5 years old. When you love an animal for so long, losing them can be very hard and people who aren’t animal lovers don’t always view it as bereavement, so you can be left feeling very alone. Most people at some time will loose a cherished friend of the four-legged kind and it is great to have the support of Solace. It is a very valuable resource and I would definitely
recommend it.”

Ann Marie (Co. Carlow)

Poor Leno

Leno, my little dog was killed on the road in front of me. He was half JRT and half Cairn terrier and he used to chase anything that moved: cats, moths, and especially squirrels! He used to race after them in the park and almost run up the tree trunk to try to get them but of course they were way too fast. Leno’s name came from the song "Poor Leno" by a band that I love called Ryksopp.

On the day of the accident, it all happened so quickly. I parked outside my house and was getting out of the car, Leno was sitting on the passenger seat. These guys called over to me and asked how to open the bonnet of their car (which was the same as mine) and I gestured to the floor in front of the passenger seat. Leno must have thought that I was beckoning him to get out and he jumped over the driver’s seat and out of the car. I turned and tried to grab his collar but it slipped off and he went under the rear wheel of a passing van. I was absolutely distraught. To see Leno die, in pain, in front of me and for there to be nothing I could do, was devastating. He was only 3 years old.

People have been very kind but I can tell that in the back of some people’s minds they’re thinking, for goodness sake, he was only a dog. It’s not as though he was a real person.

When I contacted Annie I didn’t have to explain or justify the extent of my grief; I knew she understood. I am grateful to Solace for their help in supporting me through the loss.”

Carla (London)

My Dog in A Million

When my beloved Labrador died suddenly after a very short illness, I was devastated. She died unexpectedly after an operation and I did not even have the chance to say ‘good bye’ to her. The last thing I did, was to push her into the cage at the surgery and that is something any dog lover would find hard to bear. She was only 7 years old and was my dog in a million. Losing her like that was unbearable and whilst friends commiserated for my loss, my grief knew no end. I tried to put on a brave face, but I felt a part of me had been torn away.

Quite by chance I had seen an article in a newspaper regarding Solace shortly before my beloved died, and I eventually made contact and when I heard Annie’s comforting and compassionate voice, my tears were allowed to flow, and I could work through the grief I had been bottling up.

Stefanie (Co. Waterford) 


The Full Set of Kennedys 

I contacted Solace as a bit of a long shot, not thinking that, in the circumstances, they could help. I recently took in a stray, hoping I could find a place in a re-homing shelter for him. Sadly, they are full of unwanted animals and none of those I phoned could take him and I felt at the time my only option was the pound. However, as I couldn't bear to bring him to the pound myself, a family friend kindly offered. I was absolutely devastated, feeling I had let him down. I was doing some subsequent research on the net (in the hope that I could still help him) when I came across Solace. I phoned straight away, feeling that perhaps the people there would understand my upset. I spoke to Annie and she completely understood how I felt and did not make me feel a half-wit for getting incredibly upset.

However, when I contacted my friend it transpired that when they arrived at the pound, and the Jeep door was opened, the dog bolted and could not be caught. Hearing this renewed my spirit. Although the pound in question was in a semi-rural area, I knew the dog was smart enough to head for the nearest town. So, with a full tank of petrol, I headed off and after an hour or so of searching, I spotted him! Needless to say, he is at home with me now, snoozing on the sofa.

As to his name, well, I have two other rescue dogs, a Jack and a Teddy so it could only be one name really... Bobby!”

Bernadette (Co. Wicklow)

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