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Our much loved family dog is dying. What do we tell the children?

(23 Posts)
fakenamefornow Mon 03-Oct-16 18:57:11

The dog is old and has had a good life, she's coming to the end now though. We might have her pts very soon, or she could die anytime. My little girl is 9, she loves the dog more than anything and seems yet to twig that the dog is dieing. How do we handle all this? Tell her we're having the dog pts? Tell her dog just died? Even let her be with the dog to say goodbye? We just don't know what to do for the best, for all of us.

IzzyIsBusy Mon 03-Oct-16 19:00:18

Be honest but age appropriate.

Pets life span is less than people but pooch had such a wonderful and happy life he had the best life.
I would allow her to say goodbye and offer her the choice in how to do it.

I am so sorry you are losing your much loved pet flowers

fakenamefornow Mon 03-Oct-16 19:12:23


Anyone been though this with a similar age child?

2plus1 Mon 03-Oct-16 20:32:15

Our children were 7.5 and 6.5yrs old when our dog died earlier this year. We had said several times that she was very elderly and we didn't know how long she had left with us. They were aware of the situation and our dog was 13yrs old so they had only ever known life with her. Sadly events were out of our hands as our lovely lab took a sudden turn for the worst and she was admitted to the vets at 11am with her being pts at 1pm. The children were all at school so had no option of saying goodbye. We told them after school what had happened and answered all their questions honestly. They were upset but ok with it. I am not sure how they would have been if they were there at the pts stage. I was devastated myself. The children all helped to scatter her ashes and therefore our lab can travel on the wind to wherever she wants to be. It is a tough time and only you know how your child will react. Expect a fair few questions and many tears. Dogs are such a part of your family.

kilmuir Mon 03-Oct-16 20:36:38

I agree be honest. My DD handled it all very well.

fakenamefornow Mon 03-Oct-16 20:41:14

Thank you. Children are now in bed, dog is in her basket in front of the fire. She's sleeping and looks quite content.

Myself or DH will make sure we get up first incase we do find her dead. We've tried talking about what's happening a little, without just coming out and saying the dog's dying, just to see if she picks up the conversation and asked any questions. Not much from her though

Wolfiefan Mon 03-Oct-16 20:45:05

Oh bless you. It's so hard. Make it clear that the dog is really getting very old and has xyz that means it may not be here much longer.
If you need to pts I wouldn't have the child there. It can be really peaceful but there's no guarantee. And you need to focus on being calm for the dog. Not looking after your child. I would say "doggy was very ill. The vet said they couldn't make doggy better so she died."
Sorry if that's all very blunt. And flowers

DixieWishbone Mon 03-Oct-16 20:52:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sittinonthefloor Mon 03-Oct-16 21:07:44

Poor you, and your lovely old dog. We went through this very recently with similar aged DCs. They knew our dog was old already, but she suddenly got worse, they went to school knowing she was going to the vets but we bought her home so they could say goodbye before she was pts in the evening. Lots of tears but they brushed her etc, it was v sad - but they dealt with it v well, no unanswered questions, no mysteries. Talked about that we have to put the dog first etc, what a lovely life, vets can't do anything etc... I'm glad we were honest. i actually think they learnt quite a lot from it. flowers to you all.

Scuttlebutter Mon 03-Oct-16 23:50:18

One option may be to consider asking your vet to visit and PTS at home so your dog goes in familiar territory, perhaps with DC nearby but not in the actual room when it happens. Like others I'd counsel against having DC present - I've witnessed PTS that have not been pleasant to watch - totally unfair on a young child, and could traumatise them for years. But DC could play an active role in thinking about a "funeral" service, decision on whether to bury or cremate for example and how DDog is remembered e.g. planting a tree or a rose bush in their favourite bit of the garden, or making a memory box with their collar, tags, vaccination certificates, training certificates, etc. I also agree that it can be a very important and profound lesson on how we are thinking about the welfare of our much loved companion and how death is not always to be feared, but can be celebrated.

zizza Tue 04-Oct-16 20:37:01

So sorry for your situation. We've currently got 3 dogs and have had 3 pts in post years when our children were Johnnie school age and then as teens. They took it much harder when they were older. We gave them a chance to say goodbye, everyone had a cry - but it was helped by the fact we've always had another dog to lavish our affections on.

Sorry - I haven't got much practical advice, but may I suggest you don't use the phrase "put to sleep" - can make children nervous of sleeping and doesn't help with the understanding of death as being final.

Thinking of you

fakenamefornow Wed 05-Oct-16 10:48:19

Thank you for your posts. The dog is booked to be pts on Friday. Our vet is a very good friend and will come to the house although I have said we'll come to her if that's easier for her. She's been so kind, I was crying all over her on Monday.

We're going to have it done while the children are at school. I want to tell them the dog just died. Partly because I don't want them to blame my friend for putting her to sleep, partly because I don't want them to blame us. My husband is very keen that the children say a last goodbye to the dog. I'm not even sure what he means by this though and don't think it's practical. They know the dog is dying and could go anytime.

MaryAll Wed 05-Oct-16 11:33:53

This is a tough one indeed. I don't have any practical suggestions, because there are pros and cons to anything and we never know how children would react, we just want the best for them and the pet. What I would recommend is that they have a proper goodbye in the form that you have chosen - a funeral, planting a special plant in your garden or whatever you and they can think of. Give them time to accept what has happened afterwards.

fakenamefornow Wed 05-Oct-16 11:38:37

By a proper goodbye, my husband was thinking while the dog is still alive. This is what I was a bit confused by and didn't really know what he meant.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Wed 05-Oct-16 11:48:09

Well just remind them Friday morning that she's really not got long left and to give her an extra special goodbye before they go to school. When they come home and find her gone they'll be pleased that they had a proper goodbye. You don't need to tell them she was pts. Are you having it done at home?

zizza Wed 05-Oct-16 13:39:24


Excellent suggestion

fakenamefornow Fri 07-Oct-16 20:29:22

Dog was pts this today. The vet came to the house and the dog didn't need to be moved out of her basket in front of the fire. Told the children when they came home from school. We all cried buckets then buried her in the garden. It went as well as it could go. Very sad day.

memememememe Fri 07-Oct-16 20:34:20


PeppaAteMySoul Fri 07-Oct-16 20:38:00

I'm sorry flowers

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Fri 07-Oct-16 20:47:12

I'm sorry. flowers

tkband3 Fri 07-Oct-16 21:26:48

So sorry to hear this. Hope you and the family are ok. We went through the same situation in January last year when our DDs were 11 and 9. We were all devastated - our Yorkie was nearly 14 and they'd never known life without him. We all grieved for a long time and I still get upset sometimes when talking about him (I'm welling up just typing this). Take good care of yourselves flowers.

Wordsaremything Sun 09-Oct-16 17:50:29

I'm so sorry.

DailyMailPenisPieces Mon 10-Oct-16 20:31:51

flowers sad

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