View Full Version : Advice on dealing with dog's death

Jun. 27, 2010, 01:49 PM
We are going to be putting our dog down this coming Friday. Virginia is 11 years old and her quality of life is now gone. She has been a huge part of our lives and our girl's lives. I am wondering the best way to talk about this with them. The girls are 8, 7, 3 and 1. Of course, the one year old won't be affected at all although she loves the dog.

What is the best way to handle this? I am going to be a mess as it is. Virginia was my first baby even before I had children. I had just put my black lab, Virgil, down shortly after I got married. Well my husband took him to the vet. Train's "Meet Virginia" was playing on the radio in the vet's office.

A few months later my husband calls from the farm about a puppy that was hit by a car. He tells me that she is hedious and could I find her a home. If not, the neighbor was going to drop her at the pound. I actually told my husband that if she was really that ugly that maybe being humanely put down was the best. I told him that she was probably going to have a rough life. And that was that.

He came home late that night and asked me to come out to the truck. I said, "You better not have that ugly dog in the truck!!". He reached in, turned and handed me the cutest, fattest black lab you could ever imagine. As I burst into tears he said, "So do you think you can find her a good home?". She still has the scar down her side where a tire skinned her. The next day when we talked about names for her almost at the same time we said - Meet Virginia. So the name stuck and she has been a member of our family ever since.



Jun. 27, 2010, 01:52 PM
Be honest with them and don't be afraid to show your feelings. Losing her will be like losing a member of the family. Hugs to all of you.

Root Beer
Jun. 27, 2010, 02:20 PM
It's never easy to lose a member of your family. I would let the older kids pet her, give her treats and say goodbye.

You have my sympathies. So sorry for your loss.

Jun. 27, 2010, 02:21 PM
My then 3 year old was not really affected by our dog's death. I got a couple of books to read them -- "The 10th Good Thing About Barney" and "All Dogs Go To Heaven" by Cynthia Rylant. I don't know if they really helped or not; they certainly made *me* cry!

Sending hugs and warm thoughts for you in this time.

Jun. 27, 2010, 02:23 PM
Of course, the one year old won't be affected at all althoughI'm not so sure about that.

Jun. 27, 2010, 02:53 PM
That picture of her with the baby says it all, and it brought a lump to my throat. What a dear, sweet girl and I am very sorry for you. I have been through this with my kids through the years because we have taken in so many old cats, dogs, chickens, geese and horses.
I have told my kids the truth in as much as our pet's body on Earth has worn out and does not work any more. I told each of them that the spirit from our pet has been released from its body and is now part of nature. When the kids were old enough, we would write a poem for each animal and bring it to the grave with flowers, and also say 'hi' to the pet if we passed the grave during the course of the day.

I think the older we are, the more diffiult it is to bear the parting. Fortunately, kids live so much in the moment that they are amazingly resilient. I always tried to keep it positive, but accept and embrace the tears and sadness, too. Lots of hugs, and in my view, I feel positive that their spirit is somewhere out there and we will meet again. That also helps me deal with the heartbreak of saying goodbye...for now. I hope that can help you, too.

(Hugs) to you at this sad time. But what a wonderful thing you did for 'Virginia' all those years ago.

Whitfield Farm Hanoverians
Jun. 27, 2010, 04:54 PM
My heart's breaking for you. I wish I had some advise but know that you're in my thoughts & prayers.

Jun. 27, 2010, 05:06 PM
I'm so sorry for you and your family.

The Rainbow Bridge poem always helps:

I lost my best friend a few years back. They say, "you get through it. You never get over it."

Jun. 27, 2010, 05:23 PM
Couldn't have said it better than chemteach did. Nothing wrong with showing your feelings (although if you're going to be hysterical, maybe not so much) to your kids so they know that emotions are not only appropriate but OK to display. It *IS* sad, and trying to make it anything but is confusing to them. This doggie came to you after the loss of another--why not continue that tradition, tell your girls that you're going to pick a day very soon, go to the animal shelter, and pick out another puppy. :) (Might do some reconnaissance ahead of time to make sure a suitable critter is there . . . )

Jun. 27, 2010, 05:39 PM
Thank you, everyone. I have talked about it with the girls. The oldest asked that we just not talk about it. The second immediately asked about getting another puppy. And the third asked if Virginia was going to heaven. We recently (April) lost the little boy I was carrying so they are thinking along the lines of Virginia going to heaven to keep him company. It is a comforting thought. My husband is gone 6 weeks at a time so he comes home Wednesday and will help again to bury another dog.

When Virgil died we planted a beautiful tree over his grave and when we moved out here to the farm I insisted that my husband transplant the tree. It looked dead for so long but now is covered in white flowers. It makes me smile whenever I walk past it.

Jun. 27, 2010, 06:49 PM
I am so very sorry for you and your girls. I just held my dear sweet little Alex dog as he passed last Sunday at 17 y.o. I had him for the last 13 years. Dogs are part of your family and it is sad - let them grieve and be sad. But also remind them of all the wonderful memories you are blessed to have of Virginia. You will never replace her, but another dog who needs a home will ease the loss.

Jun. 27, 2010, 08:18 PM
Don't be afraid to show your children that you loved Virginia-loving someone isn't wrong, and grieving them is part of love. You are doing your girl the kindest thing you can, and being a loving friend to her. One caution is that you shouldn't get another dog immediately, since everyone needs a chance to grieve, and there should be a long enough time that a new dog is viewed as a unique individual with their own personality and behaviors and not as an extension of their predecessor. Remember that your girl will be free of pain, and be young and free again as she waits for you at the bridge.

Jun. 27, 2010, 08:26 PM
I wanted the vet to come out here and when I called the receptionist was new. I told her what I needed and she said with a tone, "Well we do NOT do farm calls for something like THAT." I was so disgusted that I told her to just have the vet call me. He called and as expected he said that he wouldn't have a problem coming out here to take care of Virginia. V hates the vet office so doing it here will be the kindest thing I can do for her. I told the vet when he comes I want to do the paper work and pay him so that he can do it and then just leave.

She can go under the trees in the shade with her people around her. That is how I want to go now that I think about it.

Zu Zu
Jun. 27, 2010, 08:37 PM
Thoughts and prayers and HUGE hugs for Virginia's family ~ :cry:

Jun. 27, 2010, 09:17 PM
Big hugs to you and yours. I'm sorry for the losses you've had.

Jun. 27, 2010, 10:37 PM
Lots of hugs to you. Remember that children are much more now oriented than adults. If any of the children want to be present when Virginia is put down, you should probably let them be present. Get the vet to explain the process of putting her down ahead of time to the children who want to be present so they understand what he is doing. You may want to have a little "funeral" for Virginia, and let them write about her, pray for her, and put flowers on her grave.

The children will probably be ready for a new dog before you are ready. I always find it very hard to bond with a new pet while I am still grieving. They may be ready for a new dog fairly quickly. Make sure the new dog is a suitable dog for the family. It may be hard for you to put the emotional energy into looking for just the right dog.

Jun. 27, 2010, 11:00 PM
All the advice give is just great. Things are much more open than they used to be with children.

While this is on the dog, you might want to talk to oldest child by yourselves, dig a little deeper than "let's not talk about it". Being older she will have ideas and concerns in her head that younger children won't. With dog leaving you so close to losing a lovingly expected baby, she might need some outside counseling to help get things better understood. Kids come up with the MOST peculiar ideas, NEED to talk them out and clearly understand that things happen for no reason at all. Some kids take blame, think God "is getting even" or even more odd ideas. They have children's counseling thru funeral homes now, might be something local for you. Has been helpful with children I know.

Do talk about the positive things that Virginia did with your family, funny stories, special moments. Those are what we do the most of at any family member's funeral, remember the best of their times with us.

Jun. 27, 2010, 11:01 PM
I'm going through the same thing with my 14 yr old male pit. Had him since the day he was born. I don't know how I'm going to handle it, let alone my daughter. Even though she's 16 she can hardly even talk about it.

My thoughts are with you and your family. Check out the Pet Loss forum, they have given me a lot of peace with my decision.

Jun. 27, 2010, 11:57 PM
I am so very sorry.

Maybe spending some time together as a family making a scrapbook all about Virginia might he helpful. It will be something you all as a family will have going forward. Let each child create their own page(s) (with adult help as needed) which will have their own thoughts written on it about having Virginia as their dog and about how they feel about Virginia going to Rainbow Bridge.

Also, there are a lot of books out there about losing a pet. Go to your local library and see what might be there.

Prayers are with you and your family in this very tough time.

Jun. 28, 2010, 12:19 AM
I think the scrapbook idea is lovely. Others have said it better than I can, but I wanted to add- the whole idea of "Grief is the price we pay for love" helped me greatly as a kid. We had a lot of pets and I was in horses from a young age, so I was not unfamiliar with losing an animal- but my Mother hadn't had that sort of inundation from youth and she needed to talk about it. When my first horse died a too-early death, we had some pretty profound conversations given my age, and that idea was the one we kept coming back to. It was a great comfort to both of us. To know that he wasn't in pain any longer was a consolation for our pain, and his goodness was worth every second of sadness. In the years since then I have tried to communicate that thought to kids i've been around who have lost a pet, and it seems to be pretty easily understood even at an early age. They give us so much in their short lives; our grief, while painful for a short time, is a small thing in return for that companionship and love.

I'm so sorry for your losses and your family will be in my thoughts.

Jun. 28, 2010, 12:48 AM
That is lovely Ruby.

Jun. 28, 2010, 01:55 AM
I'm sorry. :( About the only suggestion I can give is to talk to the girls individually about their feelings.

She can go under the trees in the shade with her people around her. That is how I want to go now that I think about it.

Perhaps something to share with them?

Where to Bury a Dog by Ben Hur Lampman

We are thinking now of a setter, whose coat was flame in the sunshine and who, so far as we are aware, never entertained a mean or unworthy thought. This setter is buried beneath a cherry tree, under four feet of garden loam, and at its proper season the cherry tree strews petals on the green lawn of his grave. Beneath a cherry tree, or an apple, or any flowering shrub of the garden, is an excellent place to bury a dog.

Beneath such trees, such shrubs, he slept in the drowsy summer, or gnawed at a flavored bone, or lifted his head to challenge some strange intruder. These are good places, in life or in death.

Yet it is a small matter, and it touches sentiment more than anything else. For if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, questing, asking, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps and at last. On a hill where the wind is unrebuked, and the trees are roaring, or beside a stream he knew in puppyhood, or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture land, where most exhilarating cattle graze. It is all one to the dog, and all one to you, and nothing is gained, and nothing is lost - if memory lives. But there is one
best place to bury a dog. One place that is best of all.

If you bury him in this spot, the secret of which you must already have, he will come to you when you call -- come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again. And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel they should not growl at him, nor resent his coming, for he is yours and he belongs here. People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his foot, who hear no whimper pitched too fine for mere audition, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them then, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth knowing. The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.

Originally appeared in The Oregonian in 1926 and later was included in the late author's book of essays and poems, "How Could I Be Forgetting."

Jun. 28, 2010, 07:20 AM
Epona, I'm trying not to weep at a 7am meeting. :). Lovely.

Zu Zu
Jun. 28, 2010, 08:33 AM
Thoughts and prayers and hugs ~
EponaRoan ~ thank you for sharing ~:cry:

Jun. 28, 2010, 09:51 AM
EponaRoan - that was beautiful and very comforting. Everyone has been extemely helpful. We are going to make a movie of Virginia so that we can watch it whenever we miss her.

My oldest crawled into my bed this morning and we had a good talk. She said that she doesn't want to see Virginia die. And I told her that was totally fine. She asked about getting another dog and how weird it would be without Virginia. When I think of the flashbacks of our life Virginia was almost always there. Lilly wants to name the new dog, Gumbo. I might have raised a cajun baby.

Jun. 28, 2010, 10:21 AM
No advice, just hugs. It's so hard to lose a member of the family, and the picture of Virginia and the baby is priceless.

My house dogs are buried under a tree in the hayfield- we hadn't yet moved to this farm but I didn't want to leave Lou behind on the old farm so we picked a spot that would be undisturbed. When our bestest farm dog ever died unexpectedly, we decided to bury her under a young Pin Oak we planted in front of the barn so she could always watch over the farm and "her" horses. It just sucks to lose a dog.

Jun. 28, 2010, 01:57 PM
Perhaps you can plant another tree/bush/shrub next to the tree you transplated in honor of the other dog? Have your kids help plant it, too. It'll kind of be a good illustration of "new life from death", giving a little tree new life in honor of a life now passed. :)