By dvaeg 34 Comments
For my sad story of putting my 14 year old dog to sleep, see here.
I planned on it, but I didn't do it. I spend the entire day psyching myself up to going home, changing into some jeans and making the 5 mile drive to the vet to put my dog to sleep. I planned on taking care of it right when I got home, so that when I made it back the kids would still be awake and I could be distracted enough to let things go for a couple of hours. My wife called on the way home and convinced me to hold off a couple more days.
This will be the first pet our 7 year old will have lost, and although we knew we would have to put the dog down really soon, we haven't done enough to prepare him for losing "his" dog. When I was a child my mom would put the pets to sleep when I was at school, and I would come home to find them missing and hear the bad news before I had a chance to say goodbye. My wife's parents did the same to her and her siblings, and after we talked last night we decided to be different kids of parents than our own. We would give him a couple of days to say goodbye.
So last night I sat down my son and let him know that it was time to start saying goodbye. He started crying before I even finished explaining why it was time. Watching my son work through the stages of grief right before my eyes wasn't easy. He denied that we had to, he tried to bargain how we could get around it, and in the end he ran to his room to give the dog a big hug.
When he came back to the living room a few minutes later we talked about the plan. We would give her a bath, make her smell nice and clean, feed her table scraps the next couple of days and make sure we gave her lots of attention and told her that she's a good dog. I let him know that we've taken care of her her whole life, and she needs us to do this one last thing -- make sure she's not in pain, not suffering, and still has dignity. Laying in her own filth is no way to live, and her old bones shouldn't be left outside this winter. He started crying again, but he agreed with me, and he said he didn't want her to hurt anymore. I let him know that she's beating both of us to Heaven, and she'll be waiting for us to join her one day when we're old. Until then, God will take care of her and she'll have plenty of room to run around. She'll be happy again, wagging her tail more than she has for the last few months.
In the end I think he understood, and he when he went to bed a few minutes later I watched him tuck the dog into her bed and tell her she's a good dog, and that he loves her very much. We'll probably take her in on Thursday, but until then she'll be treated like a princess.