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Stressed
08-02-2006, 12:40 AM
Re-posting and being a tad more specific here: can anyone give me some words of wisdom on how they broke the news to their kids about the family pooch passing over? It’s for a national parenting monthly… I’d really appreciate it!

kikazaru
08-02-2006, 07:03 AM
When we had our dog put to sleep, I didn't try to soft shoe the news to my kids who were 9 and 7 at the time. When they came home from school, I simply said "I have some bad news, we had to have Zak put to sleep today." When they cried and asked why, I again told them very simply that he was old and he was sick and because he was such a good friend to us, we couldn't allow him to suffer any longer. Putting him to sleep was the kindest most loving thing we could do for him. I told them that I sat with him and stroked his fur the whole time and that it didn't hurt him. They saw me cry and they cried and we told each other how much we loved and missed him.

cree
08-02-2006, 07:39 AM
Hmm. wondering if they story is not only about "how they told" but more about how they assisted with coping. For example, my kid said goodbye in the driveway, and when I came home from the euthanasia, we sat down and made a scrapbook of the dog with crayons and photos and scotch tape, and wrote poems to put inside, and talked about the "dumb dog" things that made us laugh, then we went to the store and bought a special hook, a butterfly shaped one, and we hung it in the cellar stairway and placed the now-empty collar on it. For weeks after, kid "visited" the collar in the stairway occasionally and took it down to hear the jangle of the tags and even smell it, and when I saw her doing that, I took a turn doing the same thing, very solemnly, and say something like "remember the time he did (blank)?" and we'd laugh, and then she'd read our "book" to herself, and she kept in on her "special" bookshelf, and so on and so forth.
The words one uses to tell that a pet has either died or is going to die doesn't change the death itself. The way we as parents treat the death, with our words or actions, is what matters.

Laurie
08-02-2006, 05:22 PM
We told our kids our dog was hurting and there was no way to make the hurting stop so the best, most responsible thing we could do for him was to take him to the vet and get a shot so he wouldn't hurt anymore. The kids, all 4 insisted they go along. I didn't want to take them, they were 10, 8, 6 and 3 at the time. But they told us he was their dog too and they wanted to be there. Before we took him, the kids gathered up some of his fur to keep and then we took him to a favorite place of ours in a park giving everyone a chance to say goodbye.

Stressed
08-02-2006, 05:29 PM
Thank you all so much… this really helps. I had pet dogs as a kid but since having kids I find my sentimentality over cute puppies and kitties has faded somewhat. Despite this, your stories made me fill up a bit… my kids don’t have pets [as yet] but I guess pet death is one of the many things you revisit through your kids and I’m not looking forward to it! Thanks again for taking the time…

Soccer Mom
08-03-2006, 12:42 AM
Mine was sort of traumatic because it wasn't euthanasia. I came home for work and discovered that the little escape artist had gotten out of the house. I went looking for him and discovered that Fred was dead beside the road.

My son had a recital at school that night and I chose not to tell him until after the program. He had been so excited about performing and it wouldn't do any good to spoil that. That night he helped my husband bury the dog in his garden.

Two days later, I discovered my son (6 or 7yo at the time) had been digging up the dog "to check on him and make sure Fred was really dead." He said he just wanted to see him. We had a long talk about dead things not coming back and we agreed to plant a tree there.

He likes to go and see his Fred tree.

cree
08-03-2006, 02:32 AM
Soccer Mom -- I did the exact same thing at your son's age; I tried to go dig up the buried pet because some part of me was certain we had buried him alive. That was just as hard as "comprehending" the death in the first place (or, clearly not comprehending...).
I've heard other kids do this -- I guess it's not an uncommon thing.

Laurie
08-03-2006, 03:57 PM
Soccer Mom -- I did the exact same thing at your son's age; I tried to go dig up the buried pet because some part of me was certain we had buried him alive. That was just as hard as "comprehending" the death in the first place (or, clearly not comprehending...).
I've heard other kids do this -- I guess it's not an uncommon thing.


When my childhood dog had to be put to sleep, I was about 20 but we had had him since I was 4. He was my dog more than the others so it had to be my decision. For years I had dreams where he would show up at the door, alive and fine. In my dreams I was first overjoyed and then crushed with guilt when I realized I had buried him alive.
Before we buried him, I made my sister, who was an EMT, check his heartbeat to make sure he was really dead, but that still didn't preserve me from the guilt.

dclary
08-03-2006, 11:18 PM
When I was about 8 or 9 we went to the World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Our dog, Booker, had recently been in a fight with a much larger dog, and had oozing wounds from his head, and had started having epileptic seizures (all poodles have latent epilepsy: a traumatic event can trigger it).

Anyway, we got back from Knoxville, and came by my grandmother's house to pick up Booker. Uncle Henry was there. "Your dog was really messed up, so I took him out back and shot him."

As a sophisticated young man who'd seen Old Yeller, I knew what that meant. My sister, about 6, was bonkers for a month.

I'm still pretty sure there was a better way for Henry to handle both the situation and his reporting of it.

Soccer Mom
08-04-2006, 06:33 AM
I'm glad my son isn't the only one to be fixated on his dog. I ended up getting another dog much sooner than I had planned.

And yeah, Uncle Henry could have been a wee more sensitive in breaking the news.

SusieSmith
08-04-2006, 11:44 PM
I just had my dog, Rosie, put to sleep in May. I don't have kids of my own, but several of my nieces and nephews were at my house. She was in so much pain she couldn't move, so I called the emergency vet(the only one open on a Saturday) and let them know I was bringing her in. I then gathered all the kids and explained that she was ready to go, but needed help. I told them to say goodbye and explained that she would be dead when I brought her back home. When it was over we buried her in the back yard under her favorite tree. A few days later we had a small service when my adult niece, sister and brother-in-law brought over the head stone they made. I think them getting to say goodbye made it easier on them, although I assured them the vet made sure she was gone. They were all very close to her. Most of them knew her as a babysitter and playmate all their lives, protecting them from strange people and animals who dare try to enter her yard and preventing the kids from climbing or wandering into what she considered unsafe areas. I set up a dedication page on my website in her honor. It helped me greatly, and now they have a place they can go to remember her.


"Rosie Smith
Born - January 27, 1992
Died - May 27, 2006
You were my world. I miss you so much, my baby girl. No one will ever take your place."

Kentuk
09-27-2006, 10:58 AM
When I was nine I had a dalmation named lucky. Hyper kid, hyper breed unlucky dog. It took me many years to realize that Lucky didn't go to a farm but bought the farm.
In other words not telling the truth can work.

Vincent
09-27-2006, 11:46 AM
Just don't laugh when you pick up the poor dog and he's as stiff as plywood after lying outside all night. Remember that scene with the cat in 'Pet Cemetery'?

Well, my parents laughed, and it was almost as upsetting and shocking as finding him dead. It was a nervous and sad sort of laugh, but still.

Also, I think a burial is the way to go. Little funeral, flowers, kind words, etc etc. Don't just dump them in the trash.

Mac H.
09-27-2006, 12:51 PM
I simply said "I have some bad news, we had to have Zak put to sleep today." When they cried and asked why, I again told them very simply that he was old and he was sick and because he was such a good friend to us, we couldn't allow him to suffer any longer. Putting him to sleep was the kindest most loving thing we could do for him.

I hope your kids forget this lesson when they choose your nursing home ...

Mac

CATastrophe
09-28-2006, 10:54 PM
It can help to share a good book...Judith Viorst's The Tenth Good Thing About Barney is a children's classic for dealing with the loss of a pet.

spike
09-28-2006, 11:04 PM
When we had our dog put to sleep, I didn't try to soft shoe the news to my kids who were 9 and 7 at the time. When they came home from school, I simply said "I have some bad news, we had to have Zak put to sleep today." When they cried and asked why, I again told them very simply that he was old and he was sick and because he was such a good friend to us, we couldn't allow him to suffer any longer. Putting him to sleep was the kindest most loving thing we could do for him. I told them that I sat with him and stroked his fur the whole time and that it didn't hurt him. They saw me cry and they cried and we told each other how much we loved and missed him.

We did the same thing when it was time for Chippy to be put to sleep.

karenmary
09-28-2006, 11:11 PM
Have I got a story for you!

No, seriously, when we had to put our beloved dog to sleep, I told the kids to say goodbye in the morning before they left for school b/c he might have to be at the vet for a while. While they were at school I had him put down (weep, weep).

But the kicker was when my 6 year old asked if we could bury him. So I asked for the ashes to be returned. Then he asked if we could also bury our cat who had died two years prior. Unbeknownst to my son, we had the cat piled ontop of all the other cats who were to be cremated that day when he passed. Couldn't tell him THAT.

SO ... when my dogs ashes came in, I ran to the dollar store to find another tin like the one my poor pooch's ashes came in, found another ziploc type baggie amongst my scrapbooking supplies, and SPLIT my poor dog's ashes into two -- creating quite a scene in my kitchen with ash dust flying everywhere -- then we had a burial for BOTH animals.

My poor dog ... underneath the ground in two batches under two concrete slabs: one with his name, the other with the name of his greatest nemesis.

September skies
09-28-2006, 11:20 PM
We had to put our beloved dog (very old) to sleep once. We cried the night before, patted him, gave him the most wonderful bath, fed him by hand. When they talk about his final day, they always do it with such love. Beautiful memories all the way through to the end. Snif....

Tsu Dho Nimh
09-29-2006, 03:56 AM
When I was a kid, my parents found our tomcat lying dead in the street when they were coming home from a meeting ... they buried him by flashlight that night. They were going to tell us the next morning that Monty had been hit by a car and let us set a nice rock for a headstone.

The next morning mom went out to bring in the paper ... we woke up when we heard a shriek "He's ALIVE" and she came in crying and clutching a very indignant tomcat to her bosom. My dad dashed out to check the grave!

Apparently they buried his identical twin the night before, because the grave was undisturbed.