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How to tell the DC that the dog has been put to sleep?

(11 Posts)
AngryFeet Tue 19-Jul-11 10:52:54

MIL got a rescue dog last October - a lovely scruffy looking poodle called Jake. He was 11 so no spring chicken but was very happy and energetic. DD has always been terrified of dogs so we were a bit worried how she would cope as both DC are with MIL one day every week while I work. But she ended up loving him and it has almost cured her of her phobia of dogs which is great. She is always excited to go to MILs on Wednesday so she can "see Jake".

Anyway MIL has been on holiday for the last 3 weeks so the kids haven't been there for a while. I just saw an email that I missed on Saturday from MIL saying that sadly Jake suffered serious seizures that day and lost the use of his back legs so they had to put him to sleep and they are heartbroken sad

I am really upset now. Yes I am sad about Jake but I am more sad at having to see the DCs little faces when I tell them what has happened when they get home from school sad I have to tell them today as they will be at MILs tomorrow.

I don't know what to say to them. MIL is very religious but we are not so she will most likely tell them he is in doggy heaven. Do we just say the same? I don't care about inflicting religious beliefs on them right now I just want to say the right thing as to not upset/frighten them too much.

RIP Little Jake xxx

bruxeur Tue 19-Jul-11 10:54:13

Farm in the country?

multitask Tue 19-Jul-11 11:00:39

Oh God no not the farm in the country lol.. I was told that by my Mum when I was a kid about our neighbour's dog and like a fool I was still telling friends that Spot (yes he was a dalmation) had gone to live on a farm.. embarassing when you're over 20 and still not twigged on!!

Think I would say he was old, suddenly took sick, and it was very kid to take him to vet so he could slip away and he is at Rainbow Bridge now.. but definately not the farm!!

bumpybecky Tue 19-Jul-11 11:00:54

when our dog was pts in january we were quite honest with the dc (13,11,6 and 3). They knew the dog had been unwell so we told them that the vets couldn't make her better and that she was in pain and sad so we had decided it was time to let her go.

We told the older two dc that the vet would give her a drug that relaxed her body and her heart would stop beating and it would be like drifting off to sleep. dd1 even went to the vets with the dog when it happened (she's braver than me, I stayed at home).

Afterwards we've said that she's dead and not coming back. ds (3) asked after her for a few weeks and kept asking when she'd come back from the vets sad I think he'd heard us talking about collecting her ashes and got muddled.

There are books that cover pets dying (Dear Mog) but I knew I'd just cry so they wouldn't be very helpful!

bumpybecky Tue 19-Jul-11 11:02:15

one thing though, we made sure not to tell the younger two dc that the dog had gone to sleep and not woken up. I've read about a child having nightmares and refusing to go to bed as he thought he'd die in his sleep!

SparkleRainbow Tue 19-Jul-11 11:04:27

We lost a lab and a cat in the last 18 months. We have 3 dc between ages of 8 and 2. We just edxplained they had been very sick and the vets couldn't make them better. The dc cried and were sad, but I think straight talking works the best, well it does for me. I hope they are all right.

DogsBestFriend Tue 19-Jul-11 11:11:37

I'm sorry for your MILs loss of little Jake. sad It always hurts me to hear of the passing of a dog.

My own approach when my (now teenaged) DC were little was to be honest and say that the pet/wildlife was so poorly that they couldn't be made better and that nature or the vet had saved them from more pain by stopping their body working. It may not be the way forward for others but I have 2 dog rescue volunteer DDs, one who's about to train in vet surgery so I guess that I can't have done it all wrong.

If that isn't for you, then this might help.

chickchickchicken Tue 19-Jul-11 11:32:10

i would recommend being honest with the kids. i think its kinder in the long term. you also need to check what MIL is going to say as you dont want to be in the position where you contradict each other unknowingly and then kids will be even more upset/confused

you might also like to do a little story book about jake and include some photos of the fun times with him

Scuttlebutter Tue 19-Jul-11 15:24:55

Please, please don't lie to your children. Some people find a discussion of the Rainbow Bridge very helpful (just do a quick Google) - for adults as well as children. There are also lots of lovely books that will help children understand this issue better - you'll know which angle to take with your own children, as it also depends on their previous experiences of death, say for older relatives, or other pets. I think a simple, non dramatic story - Jake was very unwell, and the vet didn't want him to suffer any more, so his life has ended. Although we're very sad, we didn't want Jake to suffer and he passed away very peacefully with your granny (MIL) holding his paw.

What I would NOT say is that he went to sleep or was put to sleep or that he had a GA - you don't want your children developing an irrational fear of medical procedures, anaesthetics or even going to sleep, unless they are clearly old enough to understand the distinction.

I love the idea of making a little scrap book, and children should also be encouraged to think of their grandparents' grief at this time, and to be considerate. Maybe this would be a lovely Christmas present (the scrapbook) for MIL that DC could make? Also, they need to understand it's perfectly OK to talk about Jake and to remember fun times.

AngryFeet Wed 20-Jul-11 10:20:19

Thanks everyone. I didn't want to lie to them (although DH did but he was vetoed grin) so just told them as you have all said that he was very old and very unwell and in a lot of pain so he died. Lots of tears from DD but I explained he was in doggie heaven now and used the Rainbow Bridge description. At bed time she told me she was worried about Jake so again I told her he was happy in heaven with all his doggy friends, running around.

This morning she told me she wanted to draw grandma a picture of Jake with grandma and grandad with a little story about what they used to do with him as she wants to make grandma feel better <weep>

smartyparts Wed 20-Jul-11 18:48:04

This book is very lovely for young children, my dcs love it

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