Our pooch recently had his annual checkup. He turned 12 last month and he is 93 in dog years! He’s a senior for sure and it’s getting more and more apparent although I have to admit, the old guy still has some spunk! He can’t see well. He can’t hear well. He follows me EVERYWHERE. He doesn’t play ball for endless hours like he used to and he takes it slow on the stairs. He’s a 90 pound Labrador and he sometimes has trouble getting up off his bed. He can’t get into our SUV on his own anymore. It’s sad to watch him grow old but as my mom recently reminded me, it’s part of having animals because they just don’t live as long as us.
Scooby went from being the baby himself when my husband and I (then boyfriend) brought him home as a 4 month old puppy, to becoming the proud watch dog of our 3 children. He is part of our family and my kids adore him. Lately, I’ve had to remind my daughters to take it easy with him. I don’t want them sitting on him and climbing all over him like they sometimes do. I don’t want him to overdo it playing with the kids outside because the vet said that he has very little muscle mass in his hind legs and too much playing will mean pain for him later on.
I am worried about how the next year or two will play out with our 4 legged buddy and I’m not sure how to prepare my children for the inevitable. Do I warn them of what is certain to come? I’ve mentioned that Scooby won’t be with us forever but I know they don’t fully understand. I don’t want to make them worry or feel sad because for now, he’s doing well and is as healthy as a 93 year old dog can be. To give you some idea of just how healthy our old guy is, let me tell you that he stole the kids’ leftover lunches right off their plates on the table when nobody was looking just the other day!
Do I tell my kids outright that Scooby is going to die? Or do I just let them continue to enjoy his companionship without worrying about what the future will bring? I’m leaning toward letting kids be kids and enjoy their furry pal for as long as possible because let’s face it, you can’t really prepare a person for losing a friend anyway.
5 thoughts on “Every Dog Has Its Day”
And btw, thank you for the correct spelling of “Its” in the headline! One of my pet peeves :-).
We are day-to-day with our senior dog; literally every morning I wake up and wonder if today is the day she will die, or we will have to put her to sleep. So, since it seems so imminent, we have been talking with our 4yo about it. She knows that “Tess is dying.” We’ve talked about what dying is. We saw a dead bird in our backyard about a year ago, and she still remembers that, and we use it as an example, and talk it about it often. I tell her that someone dies when their body stops working. I’ve talked to her about how Tess’s body will be dead, and we won’t have her anymore, but her spirit will always live in our hearts because we will always remember her, and talk about her and tell stories about her.
Interestingly, she has said to me a few times “When Tess dies *we* will still be here.” I’ve assured her that Yes, when Tess dies we will still be here. She has also said “Mommy, *I* don’t want to die.” I’ve told her that no one wants to die, and no one wants her to die, but dying is part of living.
This all seems so morose, doesn’t it? But, to me, I think it’s important to let go of my own baggage about death and be truthful with her in as gentle a way as I can.
Wishing you peace and gentleness with this difficult process.
Having two senior dogs, we knew this was going to be something we were going to have to deal with sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, the “sooner” turned out to be this past weekend for one of our pups. He had stopped eating (and possibly drinking) and when we brought him to the vet on Saturday morning, he was severely anemic and had almost no kidney function left. It was time to say goodbye to our sweet, neurotic dog who had been part of our lives for the past 10 years.
Even though I would have hardly called them “best friends”, our almost-4-year-old cried when we told him and still occasionally mentions that he “misses Tucker” and is “sad that he died”. However, while he knows that Tucker isn’t coming back, I’m not entirely sure that he fully gets what death means. Depending on the age of your kids, you might be better off simply reminding them that your dog is old and needs to be treated gently. To your point, you can never fully prepare yourself for losing a pet anyway.
I agree with Jen. Let the kids be kids, remind them to be gentle on him, and let them enjoy his company. My old dog started to be like your Scooby years before she finally was laid down to rest. She was deaf and arthritic and slept most of the day by the that time. But she still loved to sit next to us, have her belly scratched and just BE there. Maybe by that time, your kids will be able to understand it better; although, it won’t be any easier. For whatever it is worth, my little lady was deaf and started to slow down when she was about 13 – she lived until she was 16.
This is so sad. I say let kids be kids and while you will need to keep reminding them to take it easy on Scooby (and there may come a day when they have to leave him alone completely), I wouldn’t warn them now that he’s going to die. If they are like my kids, they don’t really have a sense of time and telling them now will only make them obsess on it. Wait until the time comes and you can be more concrete about it. Just my two cents.