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Ellen Pompeo looks to Meredith Grey for strength after beloved dog's death

The actor shared wisdom from the fictional character she's played for 17 seasons, that most recently helped her cope with the passing of Valentino.
/ Source: TODAY

The actor Ellen Pompeo, 51, is “heartbroken,” but says she’s remembering “the good times” and finding strength in her role as Dr. Meredith Grey as she processes her grief over the death of her dog, Valentino.

Pompeo announced Valentino’s passing on Instagram Saturday, posting a sweet video of her dancing with him last summer. “When we shot this video in August, I knew I didn’t have much time left with him. But I was blessed to get another six months and I was blessed to have 16 years,” she wrote.

Valentino, a toy poodle, was often spotted on Pompeo’s social media, and he even appeared in a story on Pompeo’s home for ELLE DECOR in 2010. Pompeo, an animal lover who haslong had other dogs, chickens and fish, wrote her bond with Valentino “was on another level...what a blessing this bond was.”

In a follow-up post on Saturday, Pompeo thanked her supporters for their love after hearing of Valentino’s passing, saying she has been reflecting on her work as Dr. Meredith Grey to work through her loss. She has played the complex and empathetic doctor on 17 seasons of "Grey's Anatomy."

“I recently filmed a scene where Meredith says, ‘Life is so much loss, so much grief and so much pain..but it’s a package deal, there is no joy without pain.’” Pompeo said Grey has helped her “more times than I could have imagined.”

Pompeo shared she has been sitting with the memory of Valentino to “chase away the pain” but that she’s “grateful for love.”

In addition to her animals, Pompeo shares her home with her husband, Chris Ivery, 54, and their three children: Stella Luna, 11, Sienna May, 6, and Eli Christopher, 4.

In hearing of the family's loss, Pompeo's friends and costars sent messages of support on Instagram, including longtime "Grey's Anatomy" star Patrick Demsey, who said of Valentino, "He was a little sweetie, I am so sorry for your loss, big hug and kiss."