Could Use Some Heartfelt Advice Please

Updated on August 18, 2008
L.S. asks from Dayton, OH
5 answers

sadly, we had to put our beloved family dog to sleep today. i'll spare everyone the details, but we did the humane thing. his name was norman & he was like people to us. my husband rescued him (an abused stray) 10 years ago & i became his stepmommy 8 years ago. he was even the ring bearer at our wedding.
my question pertains to our 2 1/2 year old son (max). what do we tell him? how do we tell him? what should we say -- what shouldn't we say? i know he's going to come home from grandma's tonight & wonder where his Bubba (what he calls Norman) is. when his fish died he asked me if shark & wawa went off to work & i said yes. i don't think that would be appropriate in this situation.
i also don't want him to think that when someone goes to work, they never come back -- esecially because mommy & daddy go to work all the time.
i also am a little apprehensive to tell him norman got really sick or had a bad boo boo & won't be coming home, because again, i don't want him to think that's going to happen to him, or me, or anyone else.
i know people have been through this before. i also know i ALWAYS get very thoughtful, intelligent answers on this site.
i should mention, we are not a very religious family, so if i tell him norman went to be with god, i don't think he'll understand.
i'm also worried about how often he's going to ask us 'where's bubba?' and that's going to send my already devastated husband over the edge.
i would greatly appreciate any ideas, theories, thoughts, etc. are there any good books we can read to him about this?
thank you all in advance. please take a minute to hug your pet.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Dayton on

Be as honest as you can. I do think that you should tell him that Norman got very sick and he went to heaven to be with God. Or the other old dogs. I would not tell him, however, that Norman went to sleep. That would scare him. If he asks you questions, just answer them honestly. Let him know that you are sad and that it's ok to be sad. Talk about Norman and all the things you will miss about him. It will help you heal as well. Hope this helps.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

Our son thinks the dog is an Angel that now protects us in heaven. He even asked us if they take naps so they have breaks protecting us.

Good Luck and God Bless your family during this loss.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

Dear L.,

Sorry about Norman but we all have finite stays on earth. Somewhere Max will have to get that concept. The longer you protect him the worse the shock. Perhaps you can say that Norman got old and graduated from this world to the next. And it wouldn't be a bad idea to introduce him to God. Eventually you will all meet and it would be kind of late to understand how much Max, you and your husband were loved and didn't understand.

God Bless,


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dayton on


I am very sorry for your family's loss. It's never easy losing a fur kid. My husband and I have fostered rescues and we've lost a few of them due to illness. We've also lost a few furkids of our own due to age.
Our daughter has been around this all of her life. We have never lied to her about death. It's a sad, but natural, part of living and to lie about it will only cause confusion later. (when a beloved grandparent/adult passes on.)
I wouldn't say he's gone away, because that leaves the expectation that he will come back. We're not overly religious either, but we have found that telling her that the kitties has gone to heaven works. We've told her that kitty will always be with us, in our hearts and in our memories. We've explained that kitty is much happier now and isn't in pain anymore. We have a saying goodbye ceremony that we do. We all get comfy and tell stories about kitty and we all cry a little bit.
Allowing her to do this lets her say goodbye and understand that kitty isn't coming back and that kitty is better and not hurting anymore. It also gives us a chance to mourn and gives us closure. We let her ask whatever questions she has and we answer them as honestly as we can. We explained it to her in age appropriate terms, so she understands.
I can't tell you exactly what to say because I don't know your son's personality. You do, so you are the best person to answer his questions. Just be honest and explain it in terms that he can grasp.
~ E.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dayton on


Here is our story from earlier this year: our dog was ten and getting senile. He would walk into corners or under the table and forget how to get out. He would dig and dig in the middle of the floor (he'd never done that before). He was eating less. He was more arthritic, he was losing his eyesight, etc. I kept bringing all of this up to the vet, and she said if he got worse we would need to consider possible options.

One warm night this March we were all out in the backyard. Our neighbor, whom he had seen and played with many times, came over to our fence. He went crazy, snapping and biting and jumping at her. Our three year old came running to see what was bothering him because they were very close - he always smelled the flowers she picked and layed beside her while she colored, etc. I scooped him so he would be away from her and he turned and bit my face. I dropped him and he snapped at her but held himself back - I grabbed him and drug him inside the house. He bit my arm twice as I got him into the utility room (he didn't even know what had happened half an hour later and acted like he didn't know how to walk). She saw the whole thing, and was very scared. I called the vet the next morning, and we had him euthanized.

As you can imagine, our little one was very worried and concerned. I told her that he had gotten very old, and didn't remember who he was or who she was. She asked me many times what had happened, and I told her each time that he was very, very old and couldn't think right anymore. We had him cremated and she and her older sister wanted to go with me to get him. You may or may not be comfortable with that, but it helped them to hold the box he was in, and know he was at peace.

When they're both ready (her older sister isn't quite there yet) we're going to take him out to the woods he loved to walk in and have a small ceremony for him.

So, my advice would be to be as honest as you can with your son. He's young, and death is an abstract concept, but he'll get an idea of what happened as you explain it. I think it's better to have an understanding of the truth than be worried that other things he loves may go "bye bye" without him knowing first.

Best wishes, and I'm very sorry to hear about your dog.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches