Grieving woman signed off work for two weeks after her dog died of cancer

Wendy O’Grady, 47, suffered 10 miscarriages in 15 years while trying to conceive with her husband Mike.
Egham resident Wendy had an instant connection with her Labrador Zac (Picture: PA Real Life)

A woman was signed off work for a fortnight over the ‘indescribable pain’ of her dog dying with cancer .

Wendy O’Grady, 47, suffered 10 miscarriages in 15 years while trying to conceive with her husband Mike. When Mike brought Zac home as a nine-month-old Labrador puppy in 2009, he became an immediate source of comfort to the couple in Egham, Surrey. Wendy, who works as a retail store supervisor, said: ‘The first moment I saw him, as we sat in the back seat of the car, I fell in love with his sweet nature.

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‘He completely lit up our lives. He just became our baby. It was instant connection.’

The couple adopted a second Labrador, Purdy, now 10, and the two became ‘instant friends’.

But tragedy stuck last month when Zac was diagnosed with spinal cancer.

It proved to be incurable and as Zac’s health deteriorated, they decided to put him down on July 12.

Zac and Purdy were the best of friends (Collect/PA Real Life).
Labradors Zac and Purdy were the best of friends (Picture: PA Real Life)

The dog’s death had such a profound impact on Wendy that she had to stay off work for two weeks.

She said: ‘His spine was literally crumbling away, there was nothing anyone could do.

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‘The medication didn’t work, and we slept downstairs with him for five nights as he was in a bad way. He was so unwell and in a lot of pain.

‘It was just awful. Purdy was devastated. She even came to the vets with us to say goodbye and gave Zac a kiss.

‘The grief was so bad that I was signed off work for two weeks. Zac was like my child, he was the glue that held our family together.’

Wendy pictured here with Zac likens her loss to losing a child (Collect/PA Real Life).
Wendy likens the death of a family dog to losing a child (Picture: PA Real Life)
The couple have adopted a new nine week old puppy, Zebedee (Collect/PA Real Life).
The couple said Zac was ‘the glue that held us together’ (Picture: PA Real Life)

Wendy’s anguish was compounded when a relative also became ill and was hospitalised in the same week.

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The strain caused her autoimmune condition, Sjogren’s syndrome, to flare up.

She reflected: ‘I think people should be more open and just talk about it. We lost a member of our family and I think it should be addressed.’

Pet wellness experts Itchare campaigning to encourage companies to offer their employees a pet bereavement leave policy.

Last weekend brought happier news for the O’Gradys as they got a new dog, a puppy named Zebedee, as a surprise anniversary gift from a family member.

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Always keep an ID tag on your pet. Consider getting your pet microchipped as well to help identify him if he is lost or stolen.

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