Why It’s So Painful to Lose a Beloved Dog

Vox reporter Alvin Chang shared his heartbreaking personal story about his beloved dog Rainbow, whom he had to put to sleep in July 2016, after a long illness. Feeling helpless, Chang decided to look into why “losing a dog feels like losing a family member” and found a great deal of valid information. Video editor Dion Lee used this information to explain the commonalities humans have with dogs and how attachment theory applies, but it was what Chang said from the heart that really hit home.

The reason it felt like a human died is because, in so many ways, dogs are like us. They spend much of their life caring for us, and letting us care for them. Their life arc is our life arc, from suburb to city, from hardship to bliss. I didn’t know how to say goodbye. But in the moment, there was only one thing I actually wanted to say to Rainbow, my white dog: Thank you.

This painful feeling also applies to beloved cats.