Dog Only Knows Behaviour and Training with June Pennell
Dog Only Knows Behaviour and Trainingwith June Pennell

Sometimes you just have to write it down!

Coping with Pet Loss: Understanding the Science Behind Heartbreak


Writing a post about International Dog Day earlier today has led me to reminisce about the wonderful dogs I have shared my life with over the years and what an incredibly painful experience it is to lose our beloved pets.


It leaves us feeling empty and heartbroken: the bond we develop with our pets is unique and profound, making their loss feel like losing a member of our family. Heartbreak is an emotion that we've all experienced at some point in our lives, and let's be honest, it hurts – both emotionally and physically. But have you ever wondered why heartbreak can feel so physically painful?


Recent studies have shown that heartbreak activates the same areas of the brain that are associated with physical pain. When we experience deep loss, our brains release stress hormones, such as cortisol, which can lead to aches, pain, and even an increased susceptibility to illness. The act of bereavement triggers the brain's emotional centres, causing a surge of these stress hormones which can lead to other physical symptoms like fatigue, loss of appetite, and difficulty sleeping, all of which only seems to deepen the emotional pain we feel when our pets are gone.


Remembering and honouring your pet, or celebrating the legacy they have left you, can also contribute to healing. Create a memorial with their pictures, write a letter expressing your feelings, or consider planting a tree in their memory. These acts can provide solace and allow you to commemorate the special bond you shared.

Remember, heartbreak may be painful, but it is also an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. So, take the time to heal and be gentle with yourself during this challenging period and don't hesitate to seek professional help if needed.


Grief counselling or therapy can offer valuable guidance and support. Cruse is great! Though the pain of pet bereavement may never completely fade, understanding its scientific roots and actively working towards healing can help us through this painful period.


Remember, it's okay to grieve and take the time to heal – you're not alone, and there are resources available to help you navigate this journey of loss.







June Pennell

Coping with Pet Loss: Common Stages of Grief

Losing a beloved pet is indeed heartbreaking, and it's natural to go through various stages of grief during this difficult time. While everyone's grieving process is unique, there are commonly recognised stages that people may go through:


1. Denial: Initially, it can be hard to accept the reality of the loss. You might find yourself thinking that your pet will come back or that this is just a bad dream.


2. Anger: Feelings of anger, resentment, and frustration can arise. You might be angry at yourself, the circumstances, or even your pet for leaving.


3. Bargaining: Many individuals try to make deals or promises to bring their pet back or change the outcome. This stage often involves thoughts of "what if" or "if only."


4. Depression: It is normal to feel intense sadness, emptiness, and loneliness after losing a pet. You may withdraw from others, have trouble sleeping, or experience a loss of appetite.


5. Acceptance: In time, you may reach a stage of acceptance where you begin to come to terms with the loss. This doesn't mean you forget or stop loving your pet, but rather that you find a way to integrate their absence into your life.


Please remember that grief is a very personal experience, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. It's important to be kind to yourself, allow yourself to feel the pain, and seek support from family, friends, or even professional grief counsellors if needed.


June Pennell

Sometimes you just have to write it down!

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At a glance



INTO Dogs Certified Canine Behaviourist & Trainer


ICAN Certified Animal Behaviourist & Trainer


Professional Member


*   Pet Professional Guild

*   Complementary Medical Association 

*    iTrainDogs

Dog Welfare Alliance.  



Approved trainer for Veterans with Dogs working with veterans and service dogs. 



As a full accredited member of The Association of INTODogs I am able to display this symbol. Please check out the charter website to see what assurances this symbol brings.


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I cover mainly the Andover, Amesbury, Salisbury, Stockbridge, Winchester area as I am based near the Wiltshire / Hampshire Border. Please contact me if in doubt.

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