Monday, November 26, 2012

Mom Moment Monday

I am a little late in the day posting this...but something happened yesterday that I think is worth sharing.

We are boarding our dogs for Christmas while we gone for 12 days, so I had to take Jackson to the shot clinic at Petco because he was behind on a couple of annual shots. As I was running out the door with Jackson and not Ginger Emery wondered where I was going. I told her I had to take Jackson to the doctor and proceed to walk out the door. Almost immediately she ran after me really upset and asking if he was going to come home or would he have to stay at the doctor. I dismissed it and said yes, he will come home with me in about an hour. She seems satisfied, but still concerned and went back inside.

This seems like a pretty simple transaction, but I've since realized that she had every reason to think that Jackson might not come home...

See, last fall we lost our beloved dog, Carley. She was only 5 and seemingly healthy, but got lymphoma, which spread quickly. From the time I noticed something was up to when we had to put her down was only 2 days. It was tough. E was only 2 1/2 at the time, so I did the best I could in telling her that Carley was really, really sick and was going to live at the doctors because we couldn't bring her home. It's been over a year, but E will still ask if Carley is still sick or if we can bring her home. It breaks my heart...

When we had E I vowed that I wouldn't lie to her. I wanted to provide age appropriate questions, have difficult conversations and make sure she was empowered with knowledge, rather than having an inappropriate curiosity that ends up with her pregnant at 16... I think we've done a good job of that so far tackling things like race, breasts, and man boobs.

So, fast forward to a few weeks ago and my childhood dog, Snickers, passes away. He lived with my mom, was about 15 (we are not entirely sure because we got him from the pound) and died peacefully at his own time in my old bedroom. He just went to sleep.

This is a tangent, but stay with me. It all comes together...

Every Christmas since I was a baby I have gotten an ornament, of my choosing, from my Grandma. About 10 years ago I picked a small dog, with a liking to Snickers, stuffed in a glove with a bow around his neck. Last Christmas, when decorating our tree, E found that ornament and cabbaged onto it. In fact, she slept with it for several nights. She called it Snickers and thought it was SO funny that it looked just like Nana's dog. This year, when putting up our lights she immediately found that little dog and said she was so excited to see Snickers at Nana's when we go home for Christmas. Again, I had to explain that Snickers was really sick and had to go to live with the Doctor. She asked if Snickers was at the Doctor with Carley and I said yes. She was sad, but my explanation seems to have helped her understand at the very least that she won't be seeing him again.

Explaining death in an age appropriate way it tough. I thought I'd done a good job, but now she is scared for our pets to go to the Doctor for a check up. Maybe I should have bought a book or something. It is such a tough subject and I don't want her to be scared. It is something I hope and pray we don't have to encounter or deal with again for a long time...

How do you explain the death of a pet or loved one to a 3 year old? She's smart, but incredibly sensitive... Help mamas!


  1. Aww, it breaks my heart to hear this - and I didn't know about Snickers! :( So sorry dear. For us, pet deaths will be a time to talk about and reinforce the concept of heaven. There are a lot of great books to help explain heaven to little kids. Delaney has a set of books that are: What is heaven like? Who is God? and so on.

  2. My mom got us several books on pets and death a few weeks ago when we lost our bunny. I'll email you the titles and authors when I get home. They are very age appropriate!

  3. Thanks Bri and Andrea! I think we're going to have to talk about it more to help her understand! I welcome all suggestions!