When a close friend loses a pet, it can be hard to know what to say or do. Those of us who have lost a dog know that it can feel like losing a member of the family. Dogs ingratiate themselves in our lives; they’re there for graduations, first dates, weddings, vacations, and first steps. Losing them leaves an ache that only time can heal.
We know that gifts can’t fix the hurt your friend might feel, but a thoughtful sympathy gift can be a friendly reminder of your support and the role the dog played in their life.
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Reminders About Gifts
A good gift is one that fits the recipient’s taste, even if it doesn’t fit the giver’s. If there’s something that you love that is outside the recipient’s norm, let it pass. As with all gifts, think about the recipient, and you’re sure to find a thoughtful gift that will speak to their heart.
Something that’s Quick: Flowers
Flowers are a quick and easy way to show your friend that you care. You can hand deliver them or, if your friend lives out of town, have them delivered.
Flowers are a thoughtful gift that can lift the spirit of anyone whose heart is aching. One of the best perks of giving flowers as a sympathy gift is that they can arrive almost immediately – even if you can’t. Regardless of if your friend lives next door or across the country, you can order flowers and have them delivered within a day or two.
While dog-themed flower bouquets are beginning to pop up, I would recommend choosing a more somber and classic arrangement for the occasion. Most flower shops will either have an online option to send “sympathy” flowers, or else you can talk to a local florist can make a bouquet that is appropriate for the occasion.
The flowers you choose do not need to be big. The main goal with flowers is to have them there quickly. If you can’t deliver the flowers in person, choose a smaller bouquet and spend any extra money on a speedy delivery.
Something to Hang: Pictures & Paintings
Personalized pet frame from Lifetime Creations. Framed pictures are a special way to preserve the memory of a pet long after the pet has passed.
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words; in the age of all photos being digital, a tangible picture is a special gift. If you don’t already have a picture of your friend’s pet, keep an eye on their social media right after they announce the passing. They’ll likely post one or some of their favorite pictures as they are processing their loss, and any of these are good candidates to get framed.
You get to decide the style of the frame and whether you get a traditional frame or a personalized one. This is an important time to keep in mind the style of the recipient. The goal is to give them a gift that will help them feel loved, not to get them something they don’t have a place for.
Pet Loss Sympathy Gift Wood print from Wood Life Prints. This modern print gives the benefits of having a framed picture but in an alternative style.
If you like the idea of a picture but you’re not sure a framed picture is right, you can also consider a wood print. A wood print is literally a picture printed onto wood instead of paper. This is a thoughtful sympathy gift for someone who enjoys pictures, but who might not like having something a delicate as a frame with glass.
This custom drawing from Draw Your Portrait is drawn to likeness using a photograph that you submit. The calligraphy name is an optional add to further customize the image.
If you want something more artistic than a picture, you can consider commissioning a custom painting, which is a beautiful and thoughtful way to preserve the pet’s memory.
You have lots of different options, including watercolor renditions, black and white drawings, and everything in between. Choose something that you know will fit your friend’s home and style, and remember that bigger isn’t necessarily better here. The smaller the portrait is, the more flexibility your friend will have with where they keep it.
Original watercolor painting by Pet Portraits World. You have many options in regards to size and style when you choose a painting. This is a large, original watercolor is 16×20.
To get the a good likeness, you will need to start with a good picture of the pup. In addition to capturing the dog’s personality, the picture should also have good lighting and the dog should be facing the way you want him in the painting. Expect the painting to look like your picture.
Keep an eye of your friend’s social media shortly after the passing of the pet. They will probably post some of their favorite pictures, and any of those would be good to turn into a painting.
Painting of a greyhound done by OutsideIn Art Studio. You may consider a simple rendering like this if you do not have a picture of the dog available, or if your friend prefers a more simplistic style.
If you don’t have a picture handy but still want to give a painting, you can consider a more abstract route. Some artists will paint a specific kind of dog, and then personalize it with the name of your friend’s pet. This could be a nice middle ground for having something that doesn’t require a picture, but that still artistically points directly to the pet that passed away.
Something to Wear: Jewelry
These custom rings from Brielle Belle come in a variety of colors and sizes, and they could be a beautiful sympathy gift for a sentimental friend who enjoys jewelry.
We often wear jewelry to commemorate significant moments or people in our lives: wedding rings, class rings, family rings – the list goes on! So why not give your friend a special piece of jewelry to commemorate their pet?
As mentioned before, this is only a good gift it the recipient wants it. If your friend doesn’t like jewelry, choose from one of the other many options to help them commemorate their pet.
If you suspect that your friend would appreciate jewelry, the next step is to determine what kind. You can get anything customized, including rings, bracelets, and necklaces.
This custom pet portrait dog necklace from Mignon and Mignon can be customized by breed and then have the name added. A necklace like this is more likely to be received well if the passed pet was a purebred and looks like the picture.
There are different levels of “dog forward”. Keep this in mind as you pick out a gift. If they’re all about being a “dog mom”, then you’re likely safe with getting something that’s clearly dog-themed like a dog bone shaped necklace. If they are a bit more subtle, you might consider a traditionally shaped necklace, but with a custom dog portrait engraving on it. A more simple, even less dog-forward option might be a layered necklace with a subtle paw print.
This is a layered commemorative necklace from Delicate Layers. A necklace like this can be worn independently, or layered with similar necklaces. This necklace is an example of a piece of jewelry that commemorates the lost dog, without being too “dog forward”.
One of the great things about jewelry is that there are so many options within the category. You are likely to find something that fits your budget and their style.
Something to Hold: Mugs & Stuffed Animals
This personalized dog mug from Sara de Bono is made in the likeness your friend’s pet. You have the option to customize both sides and add sayings like “Always In My Heart”.
Cuddling on the couch with a cup of something warm is infinitely comforting, and your friend will need some extra comfort during this time. A custom mug is a thoughtful pet loss gift for any friend who loves tea or coffee, or who just needs an excuse to be cozy.
One warning that I will give is beware of “Dog Mom” mugs. A lot of custom mugs allow you to customize only one side of the mug, but the other side says something like “Dog Mom” or “Sorry I Can’t, I Have Plans With My Dog.” It goes without saying that you should avoid these. Instead, look for that only has an image on it or that you can customize both sides. If you find an artist that has a style you like, they’ll probably be able to work with you to make the words fit your intentions.
Look-alike pet from Cuddle Clones. Look-alike pets are made by professionals to give the exact impression a beloved pet. (Photo credit: @cuddleclones)
Custom look-alike stuffed animals are a trend that has been growing in popularity, and for good reason! Creating a stuffed animal that looks like the passed pet is a way to have a permanent reminder of the pet’s place in the home.
This is likely your priciest option to comfort your grieving friend, and before your proceed with it, I’ll give a few warnings. First of all, don’t skimp on price here. There are professional companies like Cuddle Clones that have the supplies and experience to do an excellent job with a proven track record. Choosing a lesser provider may result in a less polished or even slightly disfigured imitation of your friend’s pet. I recommend that you don’t skimp on quality. It would be better to get an excellent version of a different gift than a poor version of this one.
I would also caution against this option if there is still a chewing dog in the home. The last thing your friend needs is to come home and find their house covered in stuffing, and experience the loss of their pet all over again.
All those warnings being headed, if you’re still excited to go forward, go for it!
This will give your friend a cuddle buddy as they process their grief, and make it so their dog never really needs to leave their home. Petsies even calls their stuffed pets “Forevers”, emphasizing that even though a pet may have passed from the home, they’ll never pass from our hearts.
If you budget allows it, this could be a really special and thoughtful gift for a grieving friend.
Something Seasonal: An Ornament
This dog ornament from R Walker Design is a lovely way to remember a passed pet year after year. This thoughtful gift will give your friend a moment of pause every holiday season, and a chance to remember what a special role their pet played in her life.
Christmas ornaments are a special way to commemorate moments or seasons in our lives. Children make them in grade school classes, we buy them during vacations, and friends gift them to each other. Every year when we pull them out of the box, we get to reflect on what the ornament means to us.
Giving a gift of an ornament gives your friend a moment to remember the special role their dog played in their life, year after year.
This is a great gift because, unlike a large picture or stuffed animal, it takes up hardly any space. Unlike jewelry, you don’t necessarily need to match their style.
If your friend lost a pet around the holiday season, this is an excellent sympathy gift that will bring them comfort immediately and for years to come.
Something that’s Free: Your Time
Time is often the most valuable resource we have to give, and it is often the hardest to part with. Try to carve out time to spend with your friend.
Perhaps the most precious gift that you can give is your time. Spending time with a friend who has gone through a pet loss is a kind and thoughtful way to show that you care. In a world where people often have more money than time, and when it’s easier to comment on a post than to drive over to a friend’s house, giving your time could make the greatest impact.
You don’t need to do or say anything specific. Spending time with your friend and going on a hike, watching a movie, playing a game, or talking says that you care about them and you’re there for them during their time of need.
The choice is up to you! Only you know your friend, their style, and your budget. Whatever you choose – whether it’s an expensive gift, a small momento, or spending time with them – know that it’s truly the thought that counts. Put some thought into how to best make your friend feel loved and cared for in their time of loss, and go with your gut.
If you end up using one of these ideas, we’d love to hear from you!