by Jennifer on June 24, 2008

It’s a hell of a thing to have to break your children’s hearts.

After long hours at our veterinary clinic and then at the emergency animal hospital yesterday, we discovered that our dog, Buddy, had advanced lymphoma. Any treatment we could have offered him at that stage would only have prolonged his life for maybe a month. And so, we decided that the best thing was to put him to sleep.

Mr. H stayed behind for the ultrasound and the second round of blood work which would give us the information we needed to make a decision, and I took Girl and Boy home. When we got home, I got the call from Mr. H that Buddy was gone already. We agreed to wait until morning to tell the kids, so we could tell them together.

I hid my tears well enough to put them to bed. I let them have one more night of not knowing. When I tucked Boy in, he told me some funny stories. His laughter bubbled up at his own silliness, and I laughed with him, turning my head when I had to, so he wouldn’t see my face twist toward crying again.

Girl slid into sleep with a few worried words about hoping Buddy would be okay.

And I went into the other room and cried again at the sight of his food and water bowls in the kitchen. The one can of dog food still on the counter, the only thing he would eat last week until he stopped eating at all a couple of days ago.

It’s a shitty thing to have to do, giving that kind of news to your children. I’m not the first parent who has had to do it, or the last. But that moment, the one suspended between when they didn’t know and when they realized what they were hearing, was awful.

Seeing that pain move across their faces was one of the worst moments in my time as a parent.

So we’re sad here today. We’ve moved beyond the first hour, when everyone cried. Now, Boy and Girl have gone off to their own corners to get through the day with distractions. But every little while, one of them will come to find me, to say “Life won’t be the same without Buddy” or “I’m sad that I can’t teach Buddy any more tricks.”

The evidence of our dog is everywhere in the house. His bed. His food dishes. His toys. The scrubbed up spots on the carpet where he threw up those last couple of days.The hook by the door that held his leash. The yard that needs to be cleaned of the last of what he left out there.

The kids have even moved ahead to the funny stories about him. And, as happens when we grieve, the funny stories lead to tears, too, and then the tears lead to more stories. We only had him for three years (he came to us from my dad, who couldn’t care for him well enough anymore because of some medical issues of his own).

But three years is a long time when you’re 6 or 9.

Turns out it doesn’t always seem so long, at least not for Boy.

“It felt like we only had Buddy for a year,” he said.

He’s learning, then, of how quickly time goes by. And that makes me even sadder.

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Tina June 24, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Oh, hon, I am so sorry. It’s doubly sad for parents to have to tell their kids about a beloved pet since they are coping with their own broken hearts as well as those of their children. Sending sincere condolences and wishes for good and happy things to you all.


suburbancorrespondent June 24, 2008 at 1:47 pm

Oooh, I don’t envy you. It probably would have been less painful to have someone stick a knife in your heart and twist it. Ouch.

suburbancorrespondents last blog post..Book Lust


Ann June 24, 2008 at 1:57 pm

Oh, my friend, just reading this at work – so I’m holding it together. I think you know how I feel about animals. With that in mind, I am SO sorry for your loss of Buddy. Animals give us such a unique gift of unconditional and unchanging love and joy – so unselfish and pure. It’s painful to let them go. But, in turn – we give them a gift by allowing them to leave this earth before they are in too much pain – so please take some comfort there. I am quite sure your family spoiled him something terrible – and there is no better way to honor such a graceful loving creature.


Louise June 24, 2008 at 2:06 pm

I’m so sorry for your loss (said through tears and quiet sobbing).

One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is decide to put an animal to sleep. (You know the only thing that has been harder.) It is just so horrible to have to do that to an animal that loves and trusts you. No matter how many things they’ve destroyed in your house or how many spots are on the carpet from them. Our dog went 8 months ago, and just over a week ago I had a horrible day thinking about it. (Including cyring that I thought was finally past.)

Telling the kids wasn’t our hard part. They were our towers of strength. They seem to be more practical in those types of situations and realize the potential of the future. Yours will likely move on faster than you will.

There are no adequate words of comfort. Just hang in there and know it’s OK to be sad. When it happened to us, I tried to keep the emotion in when I was around others. After all, he was “only a dog.” But most people understand. And though not human, he was probably more loyal than most humans are capable of being.

And be grateful to Mr. H that he stayed and you didn’t have to.

Louises last blog post..Rainier Cherries


Mrs. G. June 24, 2008 at 2:16 pm

I’m so sorry about his.

Mrs. G.s last blog post..Open House


Mary Alice June 24, 2008 at 2:28 pm

I am so sorry. Dogs are part of the family and losing one is so difficult.

Mary Alices last blog post..Message Mystery


dragonfly June 24, 2008 at 2:29 pm

Oh, I’m so sorry. That’s so hard, for everyone. *sigh*

When I was about 19 I had to take the family German shepherd to be put down. She was…13, I think. I could hardly remember life without Mandy Roo.

It’s good that your kids are telling stories, remembering. Buddy will always live in their memories..

dragonflys last blog post..my lost art


Landon June 24, 2008 at 2:30 pm

Tonight, our family will raise our glasses in honor of Buddy – his sweetness, the perpetually hopeful look on his face, his gentleness despite his size.

Here’s to Buddy, a great spirit. How lucky we are to have known you.


Bruce June 24, 2008 at 2:53 pm

R.I.P. Buddy…..

We found our dog when he was abandoned in our neighborhood as a 10 week old puppy. As a ‘grown’ puppy of 1 year, I have never known anything that can bring that much joy into a house. We all learn the material joy isn’t infinite, we are only blessed with it in short spurts (relatively)

Bruces last blog post..My – MP3


JCK June 24, 2008 at 3:14 pm

I’m so very sorry, Jennifer. Sending huge hugs your way.

JCKs last blog post..We regret we are unable to publish it…


Lisa Milton June 24, 2008 at 3:40 pm

Poor sweet Buddy and the passing of time. What a heartache.


Slouching Mom June 24, 2008 at 4:05 pm

So sorry to hear this. Thinking of you and your family.


There are some lessons we wish our kids would never have to learn.

Slouching Moms last blog post..On Bad Seeds and Wannabes


D / Momma June 24, 2008 at 4:12 pm

I’m so sorry for your loss, Jennifer. We have only ever had to put one pet to sleep, and that was last year, August 15. I’ll blog about it when that date comes around. I still miss the little guy. He was just a puppy, 16 weeks old. It doesn’t matter how long or short their time with us. It only matters how deeply they get into our hearts.

I will keep you and the family in my thoughts and prayers. Peace – D

D / Mommas last blog post..Chaos


Tracie June 24, 2008 at 4:13 pm

Aww.. my heart goes out to you. Our pets are very much a part of our lives and I dread the day one of them passes.


Madge June 24, 2008 at 5:06 pm

I am so so sorry you are going through this. I’ve been thinking of you guys all day.

Madges last blog post..The Vacuum


sturdygirl June 24, 2008 at 6:13 pm

We too had a beloved pet, who was with us a long time – 15 years – and he was a member of the family. He’s been gone for almost 10 years and we still talk about him.

So hearing of the way your kids are already remembing Buddy fondly made me feel good.

Pets give us so much joy even after they’re gone.

I’m so sorry for your loss, but I’m happy for all the joy that Buddy gave you.


catnip June 24, 2008 at 6:57 pm

I’m so sorry. Our pets are so much more than JUST pets.

catnips last blog post..another bullet post


Shania June 24, 2008 at 7:33 pm

Delurking to offer condolences. I’ve gone down this road entirely too many times in the past several months and I’m very sorry for you and the little ones.

Shanias last blog post..Aaaaaannnd…..we’re back!


HRH June 24, 2008 at 8:01 pm

I am so sorry. I remember losing my dog at 13 and how hard it was. It just took a lot of time and hugs.

HRHs last blog post..Oh THIS is why we have a dog…


anymommy June 24, 2008 at 8:49 pm

I’m really sorry. I don’t know how I would tell my kids something like this. I’m sorry you lost your family friend and I’m sorry you had to tell them the news. Hope you all feel better as time goes on.

anymommys last blog post..My baby is covered in urine, but I’m not a Freaker-Outer


flutter June 24, 2008 at 10:11 pm

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…

flutters last blog post..Sarcophagus


Jenn @ Juggling Life June 24, 2008 at 10:45 pm

We have a Buddy, too. I’m sure our hearts will be broken also when the time comes. My heart goes out to all of you.

Jenn @ Juggling Lifes last blog post..Mosaic Meme


Hilary June 25, 2008 at 3:45 am

I’m so sorry for the loss of your Buddy.

Hilarys last blog post..First Rose


Mrs. Chili June 25, 2008 at 5:29 am


Mrs. Chilis last blog post..We Are One


Jan June 25, 2008 at 5:53 am

Oh…. *sniff* You’ve made me all misty-eyed. Hard to do.

We have Scooter. He’s a 4-year-old dachshund-beagle mix and we all adore him, to the point where he is spoiled absolutely rotten. I don’t even want to think about when he won’t be with us, because I will be heartbroken.


Jans last blog post..Eating Habits of the Early 21st Century Middle Aged Blogger


Treasia June 25, 2008 at 7:01 am

Aww I am sorry for the loss of a family pet. They almost become a member of our families. We lost a 6 week old kitten yesterday and it broke our children’s hearts. It is never something a parent wants to tell their kids and it is so hard to do.

Treasias last blog post..Happy Hump Day Everyone


Boliath June 25, 2008 at 7:20 am

Oh I’m sorry, very sorry.

Boliaths last blog post..Pause for thought


Dharmamama June 25, 2008 at 7:29 am

Oh, sweetie. {{hugs}} to you and yours – if you’re the hugging type of people, that is.

I am, at this advanced age, learning to grieve, to really *feel* what I’m feeling – because, as is true for so many, I wasn’t allowed that “luxury” as a child. As hard as this is for y’all, you and your husband and children are receiving that gift of feeling fully, being able to feel it as long as you need, processing it. Living. You are alive.

I’m sorry for your loss.

Dharmamamas last blog post..Roller Coaster Weekend


Ree June 25, 2008 at 8:53 am

I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. Our pets, past and present, give us so much in return for so little.

Rees last blog post..First No


Jen M June 25, 2008 at 10:08 am

I am so very sorry to read this.

Jen Ms last blog post..Chaos: I Can’t Quit You


Jules~ June 25, 2008 at 10:15 am

Jennifer, I have been in that exact same spot and I completely understand all the different waves of emotion. I am so sorry.

Jules~s last blog post..Flowing Waters….


ByJane June 25, 2008 at 11:05 am

Molly sends her condolences, as do I…

ByJanes last blog post..MidLifeBloggers: a new post is up


SteveCinNM June 25, 2008 at 11:22 am

I am sorry to hear about Buddy. It sucks. Pets earn special places in our hearts, and their loss creates unique, keenly-felt corresponding voids. Other new pets may make their way into the same region of our hearts, but we always carry the hole of our lost friend with us.

I have to tell you that we recently had to put down one of our dogs. He was not a very good dog at all, but he was one of the sweetest you’ll ever find. No matter what he did (and I cannot catalogue here the messes he made, the things he ruined, the smells he generated, etc.), you just had to love him. He was unlimited in his affection, and he inspired the same in you. Last fall, following a couple years of visible decline, he got very sick and we had to make the tough decision. After bringing him home from the vet for a day, it was clear what had to be done – keeping him alive was just prolonging his misery. I knew that I was going to take him back, but to my surprise, my younger daughter (just 3-1/2 then) wanted to go along. I was sure she had no real understanding of where we were headed, physically or emotionally, but I was glad for the company.

We sat with our dog — my daughter next to me — during those fleeting minutes before the final injection, remembering nothing but the boundless affection we shared. As I struggled to deal with my own emotions and at the same time tried to be ready to comfort my daughter (somehow), she leaned in close, put her hand on mine and said: “Don’t be sad, daddy. He’s not going to be sick anymore.” While on some level this was perhaps a little girl merely echoing what we had been telling her and her older sister, it was at the same time both astonishing and wholly cathartic. I was by no means happy, but as we walked out of the building, I was both unburdened and uplifted. I know that at some point in our lives, we all begin to “parent” our parents – I just did not expect my daughter to start before she was 4.

Sadness creeps into our lives at times when we remember our dog, even still. However, there is solace in knowing that while all of God’s creatures live and die (even us), the best we can do is to value – and then remember, yes always remember – the time we have/had together. I know Buddy will never leave your heart. And soon (but never soon enough) the tears will dry and Buddy will forever make you smile.


Kellie Clem June 25, 2008 at 12:38 pm

So Sorry! It is never easy to discuss any loss with little people!


Suzanne June 25, 2008 at 5:35 pm

My heart goes out to you, I can’t imagine how difficult it is to handle not only your own grief, but also to help your children deal with theirs as well.

I hope that at the right time, you will consider getting another dog, not to take Buddy’s place, because there will never be another one just like him, but as a reminder to your children, what joy our pets can bring…to offset the sadness that occurs at their passing.


Suzannes last blog post..The Glass Mystery – Chapter 23: The Moscow Diary


Milena June 25, 2008 at 5:38 pm

I’m sorry that Buddy is gone. I loved what Flutter posted and if there is a dog heaven, I’m sure your Buddy must be there.

A big hug for you and the children.


magpie June 25, 2008 at 6:33 pm

i am sorry about your dog – it sucks to have bad news like that about a pet, or anyone for that matter.

thanks for your comment at slouchy’s…i do believe there are a number of difficult mothers out there. i just hope i won’t be one.

magpies last blog post..And the winners are…


manager mom June 25, 2008 at 7:11 pm

Oh.. that is so sad. Pets are such an important part of the family…I’m sorry for all of your loss.

manager moms last blog post..Wii Are In Peril


TEOM June 25, 2008 at 8:17 pm

You might consider making a little book of Buddy memories – photos and stories – to help everyone through the loss of your sweet friend.


Autumn June 26, 2008 at 7:20 am

Oh I am so sorry. Having to have a pet put down is an awful thing, for you as well as the kids. We did that with the cat I had for eighteen years; it was horrendous. I feel for you. Hopefully things are a little better your way, and I’m thinkin of ya!

Autumns last blog post..Quotes To Live (and Laugh) By- Part 1


Daryl June 26, 2008 at 8:24 am

I am so sad for you all. We had to put our first cat, Sans, down after we were in denial for months … what you did was right and kind and loving … and when things get settled you can get a new pup .. he/she wont replace Buddy but will find his/her own niche in their hearts and your’s …

May Buddy rest in peace …

Daryls last blog post..more venice – part 2


andi June 26, 2008 at 8:52 pm

I’m so sorry. I know how devastating it can be to lose a pet. They’re such great pals.

andis last blog post..Be careful what you wish for


Coco June 27, 2008 at 1:45 pm

As a veteran of many childhood pet losses, I remember all too well the aching sadness kids feel when a furry friend won’t be coming home again.

After a recent loss of my beloved cat, whom I had literally helped to be born, I know the hollow grief that we feel as adults who lose a pet.

Many hugs and deep sympathy to you and your family for the loss of Buddy.

Cocos last blog post..I Want (blog) Candy


Manic Mommy June 27, 2008 at 2:17 pm

They’re such a part of our family that their loss does leave a big hole.

Our cat is pushing 13 so I know it’s only a matter of time.

Manic Mommys last blog post..Om


Jerry Moores June 27, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Jennifer – I am profoundly sorry for your loss! We lost our 11-1/2 year old Labrador last year and it still hurts to talk about it! We knew it was coming and held his head and rubbed him when they gave him the shot and then cried all the way home… Our 2 young Labs knew he was gone and were like glue to my side for the next week and would lick me when I would sit on the back porch and fight back the tears (I lost that battle every time). I was glad I had the 2 young ones as I awoke a few days after Jake was gone and the tears returned – the young male came beside the bed and started licking me while my wife commented that this day was the exact reason I had the younger Labs – she was right. Nothing can ease the pain but time – remember the good times and the funny stories…

My best to the whole family,

Jerry in Tampa


tammi June 27, 2008 at 2:41 pm

I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. We have lost lots of pets having been a retirement home for senior pets. It’s never easy.

tammis last blog post..Dishes, Bad Air, Boats and Pet Stains


Hatchet June 27, 2008 at 3:33 pm

I’m so sorry. I know what it’s like, losing a pet (or 3). I wish you and the family well.

Hatchets last blog post..Toadally Squeamish


Crazycath June 27, 2008 at 4:17 pm

Jennifer please know that even though I seem to be erratic in my blog visiting, that when I do come, it is because you are my friend and I am yours, that I feel your pain and am crying with you.
It is such a hard thing to do alone, doubly hard with children.

I’ve done it with animals, and the worst was “Uncle” Martin, who the child thought was ill, and I knew was gone. Until the morning.
Here, hold my hand – it’s right here.
And have a hug….

Crazycaths last blog post..Lifer, Talent or Mandarin (Orange)?


Kimberly June 28, 2008 at 4:49 pm

I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Losing a pet is so difficult. Though it does get easier, I still miss several of our lost pets from years past. They have a way of burrowing into your heart.

Hugs to you and your family.

Kimberlys last blog post..Movie madness


Carolyn June 28, 2008 at 8:23 pm

I’m so sorry about Buddy. Terrible news. Many hugs to you, Boy, Girl and Mr. H.

Carolyns last blog post..bokeh bokeh everywhere. hey. what the heck is bokeh?


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