A.W. asks from Kansas City, KS on August 14, 2007
Please Help. Family Pet Has to Be Put to Sleep.
I found out today that our yorkie has to be put to sleep. It is hard enough for me to deal with but I don't know how to go about explaining it to my children. They are 4 and 20 months. My son in particular is very attached to our dog. If anyone has any advice I'd appreciate it.
J.B. answers from Kansas City on August 14, 2007
I am sorry you are having to go through this. A loss of a pet can be hard on you....more so your kiddos who have always had that pet around. I would tell your son that the dog is really old and now it is time for him to go to heaven (if your beliefs are such). If not, explain according to your faith or beliefs. If you are then planning on having another pet, explain to him that he can help choose your new pet not as replacement but a pet for him to then give his love to now. Sometimes just the distraction of a new pet and a way to express the love he had previously been able to give the yorkie will help him cope with the loss. I hope you find what's right for you regardless and are able to move past this.
W.B. answers from Kansas City on August 14, 2007
Just let him know that his doggie is very sick and she is very sick and she went to heaven. Since your son is only 4 y/o there is no reason to go into great detail on what exactly is going on. If he asks any questions just answer them honestly and with age appropriate words and let it be. Don't make up some story that he ran away or anything like that, just be honest and tell him the truth as to the fact the dog is sick. Hope this helps you. My sons guinee pig died and my husband had to explain what happened to him. He was cryin more than my son,lol. Anyway, I know it might sound stupid but make a little memorial thing for the dog, it could just be a planter with rocks and I cross made from sticks unless you are bringing your doggie back.
Living out in the country most of my live we became very acustomed to life and death of our pets. W.
A.P. answers from Kansas City on August 16, 2007
We recently lost our year old pet to cancer unexpectedly. I highly recommend the book Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant. It helped my 4 year old out so much! Best wishes.
A.L. answers from Kansas City on August 15, 2007
I am very sorry about your loss. Pets are just like one of the family. We had to put our cat of 10 years to sleep, a few weeks ago. It was one of the toughest things that I have had to do. Your children are different ages, so they will comprehend loss/death differently. I told my son that Phantom (our cat)had to say "bye-bye" (he spent time saying goodbye to her), and that she was going to heaven. I pointed to the sky and told him that she would be happy and safe there, but we would not be able to see, pet or play with her anymore.We also made a pot and planted a flower for her. You could do something like that, with your 20 month old. Your son will have a better understanding. You two can talk about all the good times that you have had together, and even take some pictures. You can explain that sometimes animals/people get really old or too sick, and they die. They can not play with us or see us anymore however, they are in heaven (or whatever your beliefs are). There are many books on loss/death, as well, geared towards young children.
Again, so sorry for your loss
J.W. answers from Kansas City on August 15, 2007
I am so sorry to hear what you are going through. I have almost 5 year old twin girls and a 3 1/2 year old girl. This past February, we had to put our 4 1/1 year old basset hound to sleep and we sat down and explained to them that he was very tired and hurt and it was time for him to go be in heaven with God. They cried and kept asking why, but we let them say good bye to him before we took him to the vet and take their pic with him if they wanted to and they have done pretty well. On occassion, our 3 1/2 year old will ask for him and we just remind her that he is in heaven and nothing else is said. They comprehended it all pretty well. Good Luck. J.
J.N. answers from Kansas City on August 14, 2007
Work with your Vet to help your kids. Our vet was a great source of comfort to us when we had to put our dog down. If you like have your yorkie cremated and let you children help decide how best to bury him. My brother and his wife just went through this with their dog and two very young children. They cremated him and burried Goliath in his favorite spot. The kids made memorial steping stones for him.
The best advice we had was don't thell them the dog went to sleep or he has gone to a farm. Small children somtimes start thinking they will die if they sleep or keep asking when the pet is coming home. Telling them that the pets we love don't live forever, but the good things we remeber about them will is about the best we can do for them.
C.V. answers from Kansas City on August 15, 2007
There really is no EASY way.I have a 4 1/2 year old and I had a dog put down a few weeks ago.He was old so she had been around him since she was born.I just explained to her that he was sick and we needed to put him to sleep so that he wouldn't be in pain anymore.Make sure that you explain that he understands the dog will not be back.Another thing you could do is not tell him that you are having the dog put down but just tell him that the dog was sick and it died.I think putting the dog to sleep is really hard for them to understand.I only chose to tell my 4 year old because it wasn't planned to have him put down that night and I decided it was best to let her say good-bye.However since you don't have that you might just prepare him by talking about how the dog is getting old and is sick.Then go into how we sometimes aren't around for very long after we get old and sick.Then after the dog is put down you can tell him that the dog died.Sometimes(if you are willing)a new pet can help them get over it.
H.B. answers from Kansas City on August 15, 2007
I am so sorry to hear about your soon to be loss of a family member. I would explain to them that the dog is old/sick/etc and it is time for he/she to go to Pet Heaven. I would then have them make a memorial for the pet which they can describe their feeligns and have an outlet. It really helped my daughter deal with the loss of her first pet, a guinea pig, when she was 3. I think the main thing is let them know what is going on and give them a way to express themselves, especially the 4 yr old.
Sometimes the Rainbow Bridge poem helps:
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....