How to Help My Six Yr Old Daughter with the Possible Loss of Our Pet Chihuahua

Updated on March 09, 2008
L.D. asks from Medford, OR
8 answers


We have a sweet little chihuahua who has been the delight of our lives since we got him Christmas of 06. He has gone missing, and I am having a difficult time knowing what to tell my daughter, who is 6. She adores him as we all do. What can I say to her to comfort her? She is devastated. He may not be gone for good, we are all praying not. but in this time of uncertainty she has no appetite and is sad and crying often. Thanks for your time. Many Blessings.

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So What Happened?

We got our baby back! After many days of worry and sadness, our lovebug chihuahua was returned to us! My daughter began dealing better as time went on, with some help from the advice given. Thank you so much for the support and time to answer my request! Many blessings to all the mamas out there on Mamasource!

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answers from Yakima on

I'd tell her the truth. Chances are, on some level, she already knows something is really wrong. She probably can pick up on your anxiety and discomfort about all this and without information to go along with it, it is very disorienting for her.

It sounds like she's having a very normal reaction to grief and fear. Hold her, empathize ("Yeah, me too. I know how hard it is to not know, and to feel so scared...You aren't alone, I'm right here, and I'm so glad you can share how you feel.") I think she'll eat when she gets hungry, and it's normal to have no appetite when grieving. Make sure she drinks fluids though.

I think a mistake we parents often make is to try and minimize or prevent sadness and despair. But these are normal feelings to experience, and it would be a disservice to her if inadvertently she got the message that it wasn't okay to feel what she feels, or that her pet wasn't that important, or shouldn't be.

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answers from Seattle on

I'd tell her that you think the dog must've been found and adopted by a wonderful family with another little girl who REALLY needed a little dog. Focus on the wonderful life this little dog must be having in this new home.

CHECK ALL OF YOUR LOCAL ANIMAL SHELTERS at least once every three days. I am actually working on a case in which a Pomeranian ran away from its home and travelled more than six miles. (Its owner lived in the County but the dog was taken to the city shelter about two weeks after he went missing. The original owners called the city shelter one time when the dog first went missing - but then only focused on the county shelter. The city shelter held the dog for 72 hours and when he wasn't claimed adopted him out to a new family. A month later the original owner found out what had happened and filed a law suit to try to get the dog back. So far they have been completely unsuccessful, and I don't believe they will be able to get this dog back.)



answers from Seattle on

I went through this when my daughter was 6. We had two beloved cats go missing whom I believe were the victims of coyotes. We scoured the area and then settled on the thought that because the cats had owners before us it wouldn't be too odd for them to appreciate love from another family they met out on their adventures and probably decided to stay a while. We left it open that if they came home that was great but if they didn't it was because they were happy where they were and that would be acceptable.



answers from Eugene on

When we lost our dog Zap, I was 5 years old. Unfortunately, my parents did find him in the middle of the night. They knew that I was very attached to him - he was MY best friend....not my step-dad's. Anyway - they had woken my up from sleep and told me the bad news and said if I wanted to say goodbye I had to get up and see him for the last time. I was very sad and cried, but that is the healing process when you loose someone or pet you cry and say goodbye. The only diffence is that you don't know what happened to your dog and hopefully he will be found. I don't really have any advice on this matter. We as adults try to soften the blow to our children, but sometimes, sometimes they surprise you and are quite tougher than we portray them to be. All we can do is support them in the transitions of life.



answers from Seattle on

We've had the same incident in November, I have a 9 year old son and 6 year old daughter. both were really upset, not to the point that it sounds your daughter is, but they cried a lot. we told them that he must have been found by a loving family who is taking good care of him.



answers from Portland on

I hope you are being honest about the possibility that he might not come back. Holding out false hope can be even more devastating over the long run. I still ache, at the age of 60, over a similar situation at the age of 8.

It's especially hard not knowing what has become of your doglet, and I feel so sad that your family has to experience this worry on top of the loss. Your daughter, and maybe you, will need time and tenderness as you deal with your feelings. Give yourselves lots of room to grieve.

The two understandings that have helped me the most with losses of loved ones are that (1) when we love, the risk of loss is simply part of the package. And (2) love, and the joy that it brings, is worth the high cost of loss. These are both huge insights, and your daughter certainly won't learn them in a sitting, but it might be worthwhile to bring them forth gently as you grieve over coming weeks.

Ritual can be a powerful way to process emotion, too. What if you were to ask your daughter to help you arrange a ceremony celebrating your chihuaua's life and the mark he has left on your lives? You could include anything that seems appropriate, songs or poems, a display of his toys, photographs, storytelling…. This process doesn't have to assume the dog won't return, and might help shift the emotions from grief toward gratitude.

My sympathy to you and your daughter, L..



answers from Richland on

Kids are very Resiliant with the Truth. I found when my Kids were growing up (they are both now in thier 20's) that if I was honest with them about everything that I needed to tell them, they seemed to Understand. Of Course they will have lots of Questions. There is no Maual with Motherhood and it isn't an easy Job. But in the same respect, it is very Gratifying as a Mother to instil Good Morals about hOnesty too. Honesty has been our Policy from Day one and it really works. If your Daughter is Such and Amaxing Child as you say, she will take what you tell her and Learn and Grow into an Amazing Young lady that you will be so Very Proud of.



answers from Portland on

My daughter is 6 as well and is also dealing with the possible loss of her bunny because we have nowhere to put her while we are between homes for 2 weeks. Most important is to let her grieve and mourn the loss. Trying to make her get over it and move on too soon just teaches her to deny her feelings. Talk to her about how you are all sad and are doing everything you can. Talk about how special he was and why. Once you are sure he is gone, you can talk about him being in Heaven (I bet Fido is play catch with Great Grandma in Heaven). Make it fun and lighthearted in a way that is comforting. She may be dwelling on the fact that Fido could be hurting or in danger.

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