How Do You Talk to the Kids When the Dog is Dying?
This is the worst part of pet ownership. We've learned that Harry has major health issues and he's in noticeable pain, and we're faced with that big decision that no dog owner wants to make. How do you talk to the kids about what's coming?
I rescued Harry in 2006 and I'm not exactly sure how old he is. He was probably a year old when I adopted him, so he's probably 12 now. That's a pretty good life for a mini schnauzer.
One day last week he was resting on the carpet in the middle of the day, and all of a sudden just starting whining and crying at the top of his lungs, like he was in the worst pain ever. He had been walking with a limp, but up until that point I chalked it up to Grandpa-dog arthritis and didn't think it was that serious. Then the loud cry-whine happened again in the middle of the night, and he couldn't get up out of his big fleecy bed.
Then I noticed a lump under his arm pit, or front left paw pit in this case. The vet took cells from the lump, and also pointed out another mass in his shoulder on the same side, and took cells from that lump too. The test results came back abnormal. Doggie cancer.
The treatment options are expensive and extensive, and they would likely only prolong Harry's life by a few months which doesn't sound like the best choice. So we're getting down to it.
My daughters are 8, 7, an 5, so this dog has been with them for their entire lives. They know that Harry's life is almost over and they're sad, and one of them even consulted a school counselor about it because she got teary-eyed during class. They want to be there at the vet's office when the time comes to say goodbye to Harry, but I don't think that's a good idea. Would you let your kids be in the room?
Sometimes Mama doesn't know exactly what to say. I've told them that God doesn't promise pets or people will live forever down here on earth, but there will always be new life. We can plant a tree in Harry's honor, and new puppies will be born, and eventually we can get a new dog to add to the family. To which the 5-year old immediately says, "Mama, when Harry dies, can we get a black lab?" Hopefully we will mourn Harry for at least five minutes before we add anything new.
Libby will miss Harry too. She curls up with him every time he lays down, and they are best buds. The loss of a pet sucks in so many ways.
I'll wait on your words of wisdom, and I'll post an update soon.