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Old 04-12-2014, 10:48 AM
5,792 posts, read 9,273,302 times
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I frequently see on this forum, and hear at the dog park and elsewhere, people referring to their dogs who have passed on, and the most common terms seem to be "my previous dog," and "my former dog." I've been mulling this over for some time; one of the unexpected side effects of losing First Dog (now 7 years ago, hard to believe) was that we didn't know how to talk about her with strangers, and we felt really uncomfortable saying "our previous dog," because she didn't feel "previous" to us. She still felt like our dog, except now she was dead . Same thing with "former." And just saying "we once had a dog," etc, felt too removed, and "Our dog who died" hurt too much. We took to referring to First Dog as Present Dog's "predecessor," but that wasn't always understood by others. So I've been looking for an easy way to tell strangers, without plunging into long explanations and rekindling of grief, that once we had another dog who did such and such and so forth, and I thought I might ask here if anyone has experienced the same dilemma, and whether you've found a good solution?

"Previous" would indicate that the dog is somehow replaceable, like "my previous car."
"Our former dog" sounds sort of like he or she is something else now.
"The dog we lost" just sounds careless ("Well, did you find her? Where did you lose her?")
"Our dog who died" is just too blunt.

So I thought of using the parallel of people losing people; after all, for most of us our dogs are at least somewhat similar to children, and a parent would never, ever say "My previous child," if being in the awful situation of having lost a child. So I'm now thinking that using a parental-type choice of words might work: "Our dog [Sassy, Max, Woofie, Fluffy, whatever] who is no longer with us." In e-writing, "My Max, NLWU, was a great hunting dog, etc." Is that too pretentious? What do you think? Any other suggestion?
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Old 04-12-2014, 10:59 AM
Location: Los Angeles
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When I talk about my dogs, I usually mention that I had three in the past, Shep, Baron, and Elsa.
When referring to any one of them I say, My Shep, My Elsa, or My Baron.
Shep was my first, and he has been gone for many, many years, but not a day goes by that I don't think about all three of them.
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Old 04-12-2014, 11:24 AM
Location: Western NC
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I often say "when we had our Tucker (Maggie, Taylor....)" I might say that Taylor was our first dog or Tucker was one of our first dogs. Maggie was our rescue girl. I don't think I've ever said "previous dog" or anything of the sort. I can get more dogs but none of these three were replaceable
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Old 04-12-2014, 11:35 AM
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I usually say Angel...our dog we just had put down.....then I cry and never say what I was going to say....
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Old 04-12-2014, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Clark Fork Fantast View Post
after all, for most of us our dogs are at least somewhat similar to children
First off, I sincerely thank you for not saying that losing a dog is just like losing a child...although I can see how it may feel that way if one has never actually lost a child.

My son passed away shortly before his 6th birthday and I have also lost beloved four-legged family members. I generally do not specify to strangers in casual conversation that they are no longer living. If it comes up, I will just say that say that he/she passed away.

It is not my intention to minimize the pain that any of us feel when we lose one of our pups, but the truth is that people EXPECT to outlive their dogs and it is the norm for people with pets to have some who have died. In other words, there is no "shock factor" when telling someone that you have a dog who has passed on...however you choose to describe your pup's "status" is right as long as YOU feel ok with it.

Because you specifically mentioned talking about your late dog in a manner comparable to how a parent would speak of a deceased child, I will give you an example of how I might refer to my son in casual conversation:

Curious Stranger: How many children do you have?
Me: 2
(STILL) Curious Stranger: How old are they?
Me: My son, who has since passed away, would have been 18 this year, and my daughter is 14.
Stranger (no longer curious, and desperately looking for someone else to talk to now): Oh, I'm sorry.

They never really say what it is that they are sorry about...the fact that my son is no longer here or that I'm having to deal with a teenage daughter...probably both.
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Old 04-12-2014, 04:15 PM
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I struggled with this same thing. Now I use the word "deceased." For some reason, it seems to put people more at ease than the other terms, or, at least, does not prompt the awkwardness in conversation that "passed" and "dead" do.
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Old 04-12-2014, 04:18 PM
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We just use the dog's name then if someone asks we will tell them the dog has died. I don't see any reason to bring more into the conversation unless asked and I really dislike labels in regards to anything.
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Old 04-12-2014, 04:28 PM
Location: Colorado
18,798 posts, read 4,929,001 times
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Caesar is our peke now....when speaking of our first, now gone (2006) peke, Sasha, I just say
"our first peke, Sasha" when referring to her.
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Old 04-12-2014, 04:32 PM
Location: Kirkwood, DE and beautiful SXM!
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I still say My Simon or My Strudel. People who know me well know that both have passed on. I don't find it necessary to use the word deceased.
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Old 04-12-2014, 04:34 PM
Location: SW Missouri
15,847 posts, read 30,301,579 times
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Death is perfectly natural and a part of the life cycle. When referring to a previous pet, I always mention that she's/he's dead now. It's not a big deal.

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