Art helps me cope with the death of my pets

In my life I have had to learn to cope with the loss of many pets and each time my art helps me cope with the death. My animals have always been very important to me. Over the years I have had many cats (I currently have 11 cats plus some new wild kittens born to the outside troupe this very morning). I remember a husband and wife ‘non cat’ couple coming to dinner and being amazed in seeing the cats interact and how each one had their own character. Funny that they thought they would all be the same.

Art helps me cope with the death of my pets
For Giacomo

I have painted portraits of most of the cats I have had the pleasure of living with (with some current works in progress). This is a recent photo painting of our cat Giacomo whom we lost last year.

I never liked dogs but one Christmas Eve a friend called to say her chihuahua had gone into labour, the vet wouldn’t come out and could I go round and help as there was a breech birth. Well, after several pups came out I found myself laying on the flagstone floor in the kitchen with my arm and hand at an impossible angle to catch a puppy that was being dropped from a height as the mum gave birth. I caught the puppy, looked at it, so tiny in my hand and it yawned. And it was love at first sight.

Art helps me cope with the death of my pets
The Guardian

Holly Berry (as she was born on Christmas Day) became my best friend. We did everything together. She would lay in her bed as I painted, rested her head on the laptop as I worked, travelled from UK to Italy and back several times a year. Just looking at her made my heart smile. It was like we were joined at the hip.

My love for her was so great I thought she would be with me forever but when she got sick at the age of 11 with a bad heart I had to start getting used to having to live without her. And my writing and art work helped me with that. I painted this picture of her ‘The Guardian’ which is actually about her guardian angel looking after her and helping her through the transition. She died very peacefully in my arms, which seemed fitting as she started her physical life in my hand. I wrote a poem that helped me cope as she got sicker and I knew the end was near. She lay next to me on the bed, wheezing, as I wrote this poem in tears.

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If I lost you little dog,

for a time the world would lose its colour.

No joy in a sunset, or a bird in flight,

the softness of kittens or the smell of jasmine.

The arrival of the postman would become a non-event.

The peace would become noisy and the tranquility suffocating.

Food would become tasteless and a walk without purpose.

Certain words would taste like poison, such as ‘tomorrow’, ‘Bruno’, ‘biscuit’ and ‘bedtime’.

And the night a prison of loneliness listening for the stirring, licking and snoring that would never come again.

For the warm lump asleep between my shoulder blades.

But only for a time.

Gradually the colours would return.

For our love is not just physical.

Not only do I carry you in my arms but also in my heart.

And that continues beyond death.

You would always be with me, even as I wept.

(c) Dorothy Berry-Lound

The death of a pet
Dog Spirit

Holly is still with me seven years after she died. I feel her with me often as I work, sitting down the side of my seat. at the spot where we used to sit and watch the sunset, and where she is buried, she sits next to me on the wall. Only now she is joined more recently by  our beautiful boy Barnie who died only a few weeks ago, taken from us far too early by spondylitis that led to meningitis – he was only five and we had so many more adventures left to share.  He was a completely different character, like a complete beginner where you always felt that Holly had been here before. Barnie had eyes that followed you around the room and a constantly wagging tail. He looked after the little kittens, Stevie Mouse and Emmy that we brought in so sick and in need of protection. He used to lay against my leg, sharing my footstool, with his head against my laptop as I worked. After the immediate shock of his sudden death wore off, my art helped me cope with my grief through my writing and completing this portrait of him ‘Dog Spirit’.

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Art helps me cope with the loss of my pets
Souls of Cats

As I walk on my land I feel the constant presence of the animals who still live here in spirit, their souls visit and walk with me and uplift my thoughts with the memory of them and inspire my writing and art. There are now two little puppies, Ringo and Spud, who have come into our lives and will grow and flourish here, carrying on the tradition of Holly and Barnie of keeping the cats under control (or maybe the other way around!).

More information on my art is available at

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Dorothy Berry-Lound

I am a fine art photographer and visual storyteller and I promote life, work and energy balance through my art, poetry and writing. I specialise in photomanipulation which is also known as photopainting. I use my own photographs and then work on them digitally to develop the story of the images further using the application of colour and textures.

My art covers a range of subjects, reflecting my Brighton background, my life in Italy, the countryside and my love for animals. But I work from the heart so all pieces are developed with a little piece of me and contribute to the mood of the room in which they sit.
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rd EricksonRudyDorothy Berry-LoundKathy K. McClellan Recent comment authors
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Kathy K. McClellan

“Just looking at her made my heart smile.” I told my fur baby Cookie that she always made me smile. I could certainly relate to so many of the statements and emotions that you wrote about in this piece.

Dorothy I love the way you ended this article. It made me smile even though the tears in my eyes made it hard to read.


Thank you for this article. As a photographer i have prints of all our dogs that passed away over the hears that hang on, what I call, the wall of fame. Sadly, we are beginning to run out of space. Jaime was the last one who died. He passed away during Hurricane Irma. He had Mitral Valve Disease with two punctures in his heart. His heart literary exploded. After I buried Mickey, my baby, I was still worried sick that he was comfortable and not too cold. I wanted to go out there and comfort him so badly (!) I… Read more »

rd Erickson

I’ve owned three dogs in my life – but Sugar, a little black poodle mix with terrier, was the light of my life. She lived 9 years and left so suddenly one day. Your words bring back memories and the grief I felt for days and weeks after she was no longer there to greet me when I came home every day. She went everywhere, literally, for those 9 years. We got her from a neighbor when she was a very small puppy, would fit in the palm of your hand. The neighbor boys were using her like a ball,… Read more »

Kathy K. McClellan

Roy, I related to your Sugar memories. Going everywhere with you. Greeting you when she didn’t go and you came home. I am not ready for the time and energy commitment of another pet so I decided to foster. You might want to consider that. You save 2 dogs for every one you foster. 1st…the one you foster and 2nd..the one who gets their place in the shelter. Sometimes the foster is only for a couple of weeks.