What Do You Tell the Kids When the Dog Passes On?


This past week our family dog passed away. He was 15 years old and lived a long and happy life. He loved chasing cows and squirrels. Over the last year he had developed various tumors and eating problems.  This past Friday, he crossed the rainbow bridge and he went to the big farm in the sky. I couldn’t tell that to my kids, so I tried to be honest and direct. I also asked my husband to help me out.

  • It is ok to be sad because our dog is no longer with us. He will always be in our memory and part of our good thoughts.
  • We decided to have a small memorial to share our good thoughts with each other. We all threw a flower into the pond where Spec enjoyed swimming.
  • He was very sick and we did not want him to have any pain. It is not a good thing to hurt. He lived a long and satisfied life.
  • We made sure not to say that Spec was “put to sleep” or “went to sleep.” Because we didn’t want them to think sleeping is associated with death.
  • I was sad, also, and didn’t try to hide that from the kids. Even though I was sad, I had lot of positive things to say about the 15 years we had with Spec.

When I was thinking about how to tell the kids and what to tell them I realized he was older than them. He had been around since before I was married, since before the kids were born. They had never known a life without Spec.

They did well, they didn’t carry it too long. We have another dog, Si, and he is helping us feel better and move forward.  One day we’ll get another dog and we’ll all be able to give that dog our love because of how we learned to love Spec.  That new pet won’t be a replacement, but another animal that we can love and welcome into our family.


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