Death of a Pet - Milpitas,CA

Updated on October 07, 2010
L.E. asks from Milpitas, CA
14 answers

So my parent's dog just passed away yesterday and I need your wisdom in how to prepare my 3y/o for the fact that he will not be there the next time we go over. He's the first thing she goes looking for each time we go and I want to make sure I tell her in a way she will understand. I'm sad about it myself so I'm having a hard time deciding what to say to her. Your experiences with this and how you dealt with it would be most appreciated. Thank you so much.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Don't make a big deal about it with him and he should be fine. We often project how we feel onto the little ones-just be matter of fact and say doggy went to heaven.

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answers from Cincinnati on

This happened to us just a couple months ago except that it was our pet. My daugther loved our kitty, Lacy. After 10 years though, the cat was just sick & miserable so we put her down. What we told our 2.5 year old:

"Lacy is really sick so we had to let her go live with her mommy so she can feel better. But Lacy has to stay with her mommy to help her belly so she won't live here anymore."

Emily responded quite well to this. She never cried about it. She forgot & asked a couple more times "Where's Lacy go?" We'd just remind her about Lacy being sick & living with her mommy now & she was perfectly fine with it.

I'm really sorry for the loss of your parent's dog. I know how hard that can be. They are a part of the family. I'm sure he's happy where he is now. :)

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answers from San Francisco on

Go to the library and get a copy of LIFETIMES, A BEAUTIFUL DAY TO EXPLAIN DEATH TO CHILDREN, by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen. It's a very simple book with lovely illustrations. It explains that every living creature has a lifetime. Some are very short, some are long, and some are cut short. It is not religious, but gives an opening for explaining your personal beliefs. Your daughter will face other deaths in her life. More than any other book I've seen, this provides a good basis for dealing with deaths. Good luck.
And my sympathies to you and your parents. We lost our dog a few years ago, and still miss her.

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answers from Lynchburg on

Dear Lannet-

So sorry for the loss of your parents pet...but maybe you can see this as a 'teachable' share with your son your beliefs/values about death. We all live...we all die...and thru the loss of this pet better prepare him for the inevitable loss of people he loves.

There is a wonderful book by leo buscalia (sp?) called "The Fall of Freddie the Leaf". It is wonderfully child oriented, has nice illustrations...and may serve as a springboard for some questions/answers.

There is another little book called "the waterbug story"...I have no idea who wrote it...but it chronicles the life of a water bug. Many of his friends rose up to the surface of the water and never return. The waterbug promises his friends that he will NOT do this...and IF he does float to the surface, he will come back and tell them. One night he does float up to the surface...and grows wings and can fly! Try as he might, he cannot dive back thru the water to tell his friends as his new wings will not let him. He takes comfort in the fact that someday...when his friends are ready, they too will grow wings and fly with him.

Any how...both stories allow room to insert/discuss Your beliefs and values.

Take Care

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answers from Atlanta on

My cousin had a dog for 16 years. When her sister past. ( dog)
they talked to a tomb stone place that felt so bad about it, they bacally gave her a little tomb stone with the dogs name on it.
They placed it in the back yard. and LOVE IT

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answers from Modesto on

Go to the library, the librarian will show you some good books on the topic.

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answers from San Francisco on

Greetings L., when our Dalmation Blaze died some of the children and grandchildren were really upset, so we let them help with the making of a special place in the yard to honor the dog. When my husband died, the little ones told me not to worry tat Blaze was taking Papa for a walk. But when Papa's Parrott died who had sounded like him we were sure our Autistic son would not recover. We made a big deal about the fact that it was time for the bird to join Papa and that he really needed him and that God would not want us to have Papa lonely. We went and got a blow up bird to put in the cage in honor of Mr.Flint Bird, and I didn't get rid of the cage as it was to upsetting to have it gone for all the kids. What we did also was print up some pictures of the bird and the dog and have them on the frig and it seems to make the whole family happy. Good Luck as death is a subject tat is hard for some children to understand. We have even talked about how Papa has both and will look at cloud formations to see if we can find one of them waving at us.



answers from San Francisco on

Below is a short list of things you can do to help your daughter deal with the loss of your parent's dog. I created this list awhile back while working in an animal shelter. Part of my job was to help people with the paperwork when they needed to put their animal down. I also am a dog behavior counselor who has helped clients write quality of life statements for their pet(s) to help them make the best decision for their pet when the time came to say good-bye.

As far as talking to your your daughter (I have a 3 year old as well.) just tell her the truth in very simple terms. Answer her questions without giving too much detail unless she asks. She will probably not "get it" and until she sees and looks for the dog herself, she will ask about it over and over again. We lost our last dog a year ago and my daughter still will ask about the dog, where he is, how he died, etc. She is not upset by his death anymore, just curious. Although I know she does still miss him.

• Collect pictures and make a collage in memory of your pet.
• Write a story about your pet's life or help you child to write a story and make the story into a book for the kids to read over and over again.
• Frame an extra special picture of your pet for your kids to be able to say "Good Night," "I love you," or talk to their pet whenever they feel the need to talk.
• Hold a memorial service that everyone in the family participates in.
• Make a scrapbook for of your pet's life. Include pictures of favorite toys, their bed, snacks they liked to eat, games they played, tricks they knew and all the wonderfully naughty things they did that now make you laugh.
• Plant a special tree or plant in the yard in your pet's honor.
• Create a memorial garden in your yard and include a stepping stone that you buy or make that includes your pet's name or picture on it.
• There is a book called, "I'll Always Love You," by Hans Wilhelm. Some kids find the book sweet and comforting.
•My daughter renamed one of her stuffed animal dogs "Murphy" after our dog, Murphy passed away. She still talks about him a year later and uses the stuffed dog as a way to hug "Murphy."



answers from Sacramento on

So sorry for your parents loss of their pet. It really is difficult, because they are an extension of our family.

I am not sure what your beliefs are, but we have told our kiddos that our dog has gone to heaven. To allow them to have closure we got each of the thema helium balloon. We allowed them to write on it and to release it. This really seemd to help them send personal messages to our dog and have a bit of closure.

I hope that whatever you decide to do, that your daughter does well through this.


answers from Detroit on

We had this situation in our house last year. Our dog was 12 and slowly going down hill. Our five year old son was IN LOVE with our dog and considered him his best friend. When the time came to put the dog to sleep, I thought it would be better to spare my son any saddness and just told him that his buddy was going to a retirement home. Everyone kept telling me that he was young and would get over it and forget all about the dog in a week or so.

One month son came to me sobbing that he missed his pal and wanted to go and get him back from the retirement home. And he KEPT asking! I sought similar advice here and realized that I'd made a HUGE mistake in not telling him the truth from the beginning. Long story short, I finally fessed up and told him the truth. He DID cry, loud and sad cries that broke my heart. But he deserved the chance to grieve his friend. I cannot stress this enough. All it did was prolong his saddness by keeping up the idea that he was somewhere where my son couldn't go visit him. Now that he knows where his buddy is, he says "I can't wait to see him again one day in Heaven". No tears, still a little bit of saddness, but so much better than the pain he was dealing with before with all the unknowns.

I'm so sorry for your saddness and your breaking heart for your little girl. Hope that this has helped you decide.



answers from Atlanta on

When our dog died my kids (about the same age) liked the book "Dog Heaven". I had to "rehearse" by myself about 3 times before reading it aloud... but it did the trick.



answers from Sacramento on

I don't recommend lying to your child. This comes from several viewpoints of mine: psychologically and from my childhood.
The pets that I was able to say goodbye to, to mourn and to touch their little paw one last time................I got over with time. A lot of time.
The pets my parents gave away when I was at school........I still can't stomach.
I have been with every pet of mine I've had after that (at a young age) and was able to say goodbye to and pet one last time.
And let me tell you..............that did me a world of good.
So when our dog died last year......I talked my husband into letting my stepdaughter come w/us to the vet to say goodbye before she was put to sleep.
She cried at the vet's office, was fine on the way home and had bouts of waking in the middle of the night for "no apparent reason" for 2 months.
But then she was over it. She doesn't feel her lifelong pet of 12 years was just gone one day or ripped away from her . She was able to say a proper goodbye and she finally got over it unlike the pets I didn't see die or that were whisked away while I was at school never to be seen again.
Explain death, let your child be part of the process, let THE CHILD grieve....that is my best advice. I would never have a pet disappear from a child's life while they were at school. That seemed to do more damage. I am truly sorry for your loss.



answers from San Francisco on

We lost our black lab to cancer last November when my daughter was almost 4. We explained that Dixie was very sick (she had cancer and my daughter knew that the tumor had made it so she could not bark and couldn't eat very well anymore) and sometimes the best thing you can do for a pet that you love very much is to help them die. We also read the Dog Heaven book and a couple of others that I can't remember now (librarian should be able to help, I also got several from my daughter's preschool). About 3 weeks later my daughter saw a black lab and she just started crying and asking where Dr. P (the vet who came to the house) had taken Dixie's fur and tail. So then we ended up explaining cremation and we showed her the box w/ the cremains in it on the mantle at home (we had intended to bury it in the yard) and for about 5 months every picture or craft project she did was for Dixie and she put it on the mantle next to the box. This really seemed to help my daughter. I'm actually glad now that we went through this then because my Dad died of cancer in August and was cremated so my daughter had already had the experience with the dog to relate to. My daughter is quite a sensitive and very inquisitive child though, it depends on your child. One of her friends lost a yellow lab a few months ago and the child was sad for a week and that was it. You kind of have to see how your child reacts and answer the questions that they bring up. We had not intended to explain cremation to her but we had to answer the question of where the physical body went.
Good luck and I'm sorry for your loss.

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