Tom Hardy has been loud and proud about his love for Woodstock, the adorable stray dog he adopted “late one dark night in Peachtree Georgia Atlanta”. The puppy was, at the time, just 11 weeks old – and Hardy had found him cowering in a terrified bundle at the side of a busy motorway.
The actor tirelessly worked to connect with the Labrador cross, slowly building up trust over time – and, before long, they were absolutely inseparable. The pup grew up to become a confident and loyal companion, securing a spot on Time’s list of the world’s most influential animals, appearing on red carpets, and even making a brief appearance in Peaky Blinders.
So, when his beloved friend passed away a few days ago at the age of six, Hardy was understandably heartbroken.
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Determined to do right by Woody, the 39-year-old refused to bury his grief. Instead, he shared a lengthy and emotional tribute to his best friend via his official fan Tumblr, TomHardyDotOrg.
“I don’t normally speak out about family and friends but this is an unusual circumstance,” he began the post (which included a nine-minute slideshow).
“Woody was far too young to leave us and we at home are devastated by his loss. I am ultimately grateful for his loyal companionship and love and it is of some great comfort that he is no longer suffering.
“Above all I am completely gutted. The world for me was a better place with him in it and by my side.”
Hardy then went on to write: “To me and to a family who loved him beyond words and whom he loved without doubt more than I have ever known, Woody was the bestest of journey companions we ever could dream of having.
“Our souls are intertwined forever.”
The Taboo star even addressed his fallen friend directly, dubbing him a “special bro” and “a shining example of man’s best friend”.
“Thank you Woody, for choosing to find us,” said Hardy. “We will love you and be with you and you with us forever.
“I love you beyond words. To the moon and back again and again to infinity and beyond. Run with Max now and the angels. I will see you when I get there.
“With all of me, I love you always. Thank you for your love, beautiful boy.”
It’s a reminder that the sense of loss and sadness we feel over the death of a pet is nothing to be ashamed of – or hidden – and echoes the heartfelt tribute presenter Sue Perkins wrote to her dog Pickle.
In fact, Bruce Fogle, who authored Interrelations Between People and Pets, has urged people to allow themselves the chance to grieve when an animal companion passes away – because they are so much more than “just a pet”.
When a pet dies, “there are two relationships,” he writes. “You are the parent of a child, and you are also losing the security and constancy that Mummy provided. The dog is a complete innocent, never hiding its emotions, never lying. This is why the grief can be so great.
“It can be greatly complicated if people feel guilty about experiencing such intense emotion over their dog, while knowing they didn’t feel it when a parent died.”
The Humane Society agrees, adding: “Animals provide companionship, acceptance, emotional support and unconditional love. If you understand and accept this bond between humans and animals, you've already taken the first step toward coping with pet loss – knowing that it is okay to grieve when your pet dies.”
They have shared their advice on how best to cope with the death of a pet, suggesting that bereaved owners reach out to sympathetic friends, write about their feelings, and prepare a memorial for your furry loved one.
They also suggest “calling a pet-loss support hotline, [or] volunteering at a local humane society” – and add that the search for a new pet should not begin until one is well and truly ready to welcome another animal into their life.