Last night on the way home from my 10-day research trip for my book, Soldier Dogs, I overheard a passenger at JFK Airport telling a colleague about how she needs to find another job because her dog died last week and she couldn’t get a day off to cope with her loss. She’d apparently taken a couple of sick days to be at her dog’s side at the end, but her boss knew what was going on, and refused to give her an honest day off the day after she had to euthanize the old girl.
“He didn’t get it, no one there really gets it,” she said. “If it were a cousin I’d get the day off and people would understand. God forbid it’s a dog who lived for you every day of her life.”
She’s right. People who have lost a dog can empathize. They know how hard the death of a dog hits. It can come from left field and leave you stunned, empty, depressed. The hole in your life, even if you’ve got a full life, is deep. If you’ve been there, you know. Clearly no one in that woman’s office had walked that painful road. The woman still ached. I ached for her, but she had the colleague’s ear, so I stayed out of it.
Once I got home, I was perusing some dog stories online to see what might be worth reporting on the blog, and I ran across a Huffington Post article from yesterday that addressed the same issue. It was a big coincidence, right down to the title, which read, “You Don’t Get a Day Off When Your Dog Dies.” It’s about the author’s dog, and the idea of bereavement benefits being extended to four-legged family members. I knew this was a topic whose time had come.
So I ask you: What have been your experiences in dealing with work when your dog was dying or after she died? Were people understanding? Were they uncaring? Did you get time off to process your loss? What kinds of policies do you think companies should have to help people cope after a dog dies? I think this will be an interesting conversation.
(Image from the Flickr photostream of Poofy)