Death of a family pet

How do you tell your child your pet is dying:

My wife and I have been together for 20 years in September, for 9 of those years we have been graced with the presence of a little lady called BoBo. She was and still is our 'first child', (even if she has 4 legs and poos in the back garden).

Bobo: Our 4 legged baby (April 2010)

Bobo: Our 4 legged baby (April 2010)

We rescued her when she was about 2 years of age. She'd been left out on the street to fend for herself by a family who had moved home. She was a very very nervous dog when we first took her in. She still is really, but not when my wife is there. She loves her so much and the feeling is reciprocated. She's her little shadow, following her everywhere. She tolerates me ( I mean the dog here, although in retrospect that sentence works for both of them).

Since she became part of the family we've always lived in houses with laminate floors, I presume you've heard the saying 'the pitter patter of tiny feet', well our 4 legged baby always announced that my wife was on the move through 'the pitter patter of tiny paws' as she followed her around the house.

They're soulmates.. they love each other so much.

Bobo eats when the Bear is home (lets just clarify that I call my wife 'the Bear' or 'Pooh' at this point, in case you are thinking they also have a Bear!!), when she's not home she sits looking out the window, awaiting her return.

When times were tough the Bear minded Bobo and vice versa. That dog has snuggled more issues away than many a friend could even contemplate resolving.

She's getting old (that's Bobo, not the Bear*), we reckon she's about 11 at this stage, that's 77 in human years (which isn't too bad an innings). About 4 years ago we got her a companion, Shoop (that's what happens when you let a small child name a family pet) and she is mental. I knew that Bobo wouldn't last for ever and in the back of my mind I thought that having another dog might help 'break the fall' of this little lady leaving us in the future. Althought they look similar they are so different; Shoop is 'my dog', we're similar (a bit mad and mischievous) and Bobo and the Bear are similar (little ladies).

Bobo is a lady (she even poops like one), Shoop is a tramp: The lady and the tramp. (Yes I'm inadvertently calling myself a tramp).

As I said, Bobo tolerates me, which is good because she has a general distrust of men (that's what being dumped out on the street can do to you I suppose) but I still love her.

I constantly slag Pooh, telling her my dog is better, and tease Ben about how great my dog is compared to his Mammy's. We all know the truth though.. Bobo is an absolute legend of a dog. My dog doesn't come close to this little lady.


So recently it happened.... Bobo got sick. The Bear and her have a telepathic understanding, developed from years of snuggling and 'problem sharing/halving'. So when she sat at her feet and looked up her big sad eyes told her something was very wrong....They both knew.

Off to the Vet they went and after numerous tests we found that Bobo had the Big C. there was nothing that could be done. Its terminal.... 2 months, tops. (I've tears streaming down my face writing this and so can only only imagine what its doing to my wife).


I really hope we get one last Christmas with her but if she's suffering then we'll have to make the difficult decision.

So this leads me to the question. Is there a right way to explain this to small kids?

Our little man is 6 and is very sensitive and I know it will affect him badly. Bobo has always been in his life. She was here before him. They grew up together. It will be the first close loss that he'll have in his life.

Bobo, with Baby Ben in the background

Bobo, with Baby Ben in the background

After discussing it with the Bear we made a decision to let him know as soon as we had found out. So far we've told him that 'she's sick... and old... that she mightn't get better'.

He's a smart young man and read between the lines and was upset but we feel that its right and very important that he has time to get used to the situation and slowly let the realisation sink in. I feel it's best to be honest with kids. None of this 'gone off to a farm' nonsense.

We can all grieve Bobo together as a family.... she'll be missed.
 

In the past week Bobo has had OK days and bad days and honestly we don't think she'll make Christmas. Its going to be hard but we love her so much we don't want to let her suffer at all.

 

This has been difficult to write but strangely cathartic..

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Daddy P.

 

Bobo cleaning Shoop, like a mammy.