Losing a Pet: Lucy's Last Day and How I Told the Children
By Carol Jones on May 22, 2014
I decided I needed to have a conversation with my twins about our dog Lucy's death the day before we had her put down.
I honestly didn't know what to say, how to approach it. I decided that the best thing to do was to be completely honest with them. I told them that Lucy is very sick. Riley said we need to take her to the doggie doctor for medicine. I told her that the doctor can't help her this time. Sometimes doggies get so sick that they can't be fixed.
I told them that she was going to heaven. Riley cried. Dylan hugged me. Riley said she can't go to heaven because she lives here with us. She said she would miss us and shouldn't go. I told her that I was very very sad that she has to go to heaven but she will be happy there. This is all coming on the heels of losing their granddad, exactly one month ago. One month ago I had this conversation with them. It's still a very fresh wound in our hearts. So they understand the whole "heaven" concept and what it means.
Children are smarter than we give them credit for. It's important to me that I don't tell them things like "Lucy went to live with someone else" or that we had to "put her to sleep". both of these statements could cause unnecessary fears. I don't want them to think that if we go away somewhere we won't come back. Or that sleep is a scary thing.
But I am finding it very hard to say "Lucy died.".
They have seen not one, but TWO very loved family members get so sick that they can't be helped. I made sure to tell them that people and pets don't go to heaven every single time that they are sick, that it's only when they can't be fixed. Do they believe me? I don't know.
I know there will be moments and days when one or both of them will get incredibly sad and miss Lucy and granddad. It's those times that I need to remind them it's ok to be sad and to miss them.
Lucy's last day was spent with love and sadness. I got up at 5:30 with her this morning after a fitful night. I wiped the salt crystals from my eyes, I must have cried in my sleep because they covered my lashes. I took her for a walk, just her and I. It was so peaceful and calm. I let her sniff every flower and bush she wanted. I discovered she had a favorite little shrub that she buried her face into. I let her lead me, and within 10 or so minutes she was leading me back home.
We came back and she was given cuddles for a while, then the kids got up and snuggled with her. They fed her an entire box of dog treats. She got pizza and ice cream. We took the kids to my good friend's house and headed to the vet.
We got there 10 minutes early and sat in the car & cried for that time. The vet said that she didn't find the tumors alarming. In me was a fleeting moment of hope, but the fact that Lucy was having problems putting her back feet down and getting up along with the groaning from arthritis in her spine we all knew she was in pain. She said that it would only get worse for her and treatment would only help a little. The best thing for her was to ease her pain and let her go.
While we were in there she laid down and wouldn't get up, like she knew and she was ready.
I couldn't face being there with her when they put her down. I tried so hard. I just couldn't watch her die. I wanted her to know so badly how much I loved her and how much I'll miss her. We said our goodbyes and cried in the car for a while.
I went back to get the kids, right away Riley said "Lucy's in heaven. I miss her". Yes, baby. I miss her too...
The vet said that the lifespan of a purebred Labrador is generally 7 to 10 years. We had her for 12, I am so thankful for that extra time with her. Now I am just tired of crying. Tired of losing my loved ones. I miss her so much but I know it was the right thing to do for her.