Losing dog like losing a child?

Jenni - posted on 08/30/2010 ( 42 moms have responded )

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I was watching animal planet and this pet psychic compared losing one of her dogs to be like losing a child. This isn't the first time i've heard this comparison either. Just wondering if anyone else finds it a little insensitive. I could just imagine these people telling someone who just lost a child. Oh, I know what your going through. My chiuaua, Pooky, just passed away 8 months ago.

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Krista - posted on 08/30/2010

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Actually, Teresa, what you said makes perfect sense. Pets do tend to become a member of the family for some people. And if they don't have children, even more so. So their loss can be devastating and shouldn't be trivialized. I think the lesson here is that if anybody is experiencing a loss, comparing your pain to theirs, even if well-meant, just tends to smack of one-upmanship and should really be avoided.

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I may be a bit hard, but I could never compare the death of a pet to the death of a child. The death of a pet is sad, heartbreaking for some, but the death of a child is monumental and the grieving parent will never ever be the same again. Some marriages can't survive the loss of a child but they do survive when pets die. You can always buy another dog/cat/horse etc but you can't replace that child.

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To some people, their pets ARE their children, so I don't think they are being insensitive. Now, if they were trying to console someone who had just lost a child by comparing it to losing their pet... that I would find insensitive. I don't think it's fair to diminish anyone's pain/grief though. I've had 2 early miscarriages and I know the pain that caused me personally, but I wouldn't try to compare my pain to someone else who had had an early miscarriage and I certainly wouldn't try to compare my pain to someone who had lost a full term infant or a child. That WOULD be insensitive, but that doesn't make the pain I went through any less.

Make sense? I hope so.

Dana - posted on 08/30/2010

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I don't think there is anything wrong with loving your animal, Lord knows I've loved all mine. However, I've seen the destruction of losing a child and it is NOWHERE near someone losing a pet and that is the bottom line. Is it like losing a child, no.

Mary - posted on 09/02/2010

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Kate, I'm with you...my animals are a part of my family, and I would only part with them only slightly quicker than I would my child...and I would move heaven and earth to find them a suitable home before surrendering them to a shelter...because at some (not all, and not my local branch of the Humane Society) I may as well euthanize them myself.

When I became (unexpectantly) pregnant with my daughter, I caught a LOT of flack about "getting rid" of my then 5 y/o pit mix. We'd had Sam a little over a year, and knew he had been abused in his prior life. He was a LOT of work to rehab...he had no agressive tendencies, but he was exceptionally anxious, fearful of strangers, and had a lot to learn about life in family environment. However, he had become a GREAT dog, and treasured member of my family. No, I wasn't completely sure how he would do with a baby, and I was not naive to the potential problems that could ensue, but I was fairly confident that he would not be a danger to my child. I also knew that the chances of anyone else taking an adult pit with his history was nil...surrendering him would be signing his death sentence.

Well, almost 22 months later, I am beyond pleased that I trusted my gut. Not only do the two of them share a mutual love and adoration with each other, but Sammy has down right flourished under all of the attention and "love" showered upon him by his baby girl. Since Molly has become mobile, and more interactive with him, Sammy's overall anxiety has practically disapeared. He is even much less fearful when strangers come into our home. My daughter's first word was "puppy"...and her first sentence was "Where puppy Sam go?".

Admitedly, this was something my husband and I worked hard at...we directed a lot of time and attention to shaping and nuturing the realtionship between our dogs and daughter...but the payoff has been beyond worth it for ALL of us. It is a relationship that has enriched all of our lives. I'm so glad I didn't give in to all of the naysayers who told me to get rid of "that dog"...what a tremendous loss it would have been for not only me, but my daughter as well.

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Jenni - posted on 09/02/2010

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I got Valentine on Valentine's Day 2001 from the humane society. I was engaged at the time and broke it off a few months after I adopted her. My ex refused to give her to me. Saying he had grown attached to her (he always hated animals and was only doing it to get to me). I went by our old appartment and checked on her often. He moved out suddenly and left her behind with a few of his things. There was feces and urine stains all over the carpet so i'm guessing he left her there for a few days. I tried to reach him after to ask what the F was going on and if he didn't WANT her and is going to abandon her like that then he needed to give her back to me. He claimed he was picking her up the next day to move her in with him and his new gf. I went back later that evening and found he had taken her.
6 months later.... i get a call from my Xfrienemy telling me she has my dog and i can come get her if i like. I rushed out that night and picked her up. When i got her she had a huge bite mark in her side. (apparently ex's new gf had a black lab). After have her for a few months i realized how many issues she had developed. I couldn't imagine what kind of treatment she had received for her behaviour to be so different. She had severe seperation anxiety, attacked any other dogs who came near her, chewed and pooped all over my house when i would leave.
So anyways it took a lot of time, training, reassurance and love but she eventually healed. She was an amazing dog after. Very obediant and loving, a huge suck. The chewing ceased, the pooping ended and i got her resocialized.
New bf and i had her from approx 2002-2007. Then when our relationship ended i had to move in to my mothers and she didn't want her there. My ex offered to keep her until i found my own place. That worked out and i had her at my new place.
Met current SO we had my son. Everything was great. Went back to work when my son was a year. Got pregnant with my daughter. Lost my job at 3 months pregnant (apparently a new bill passed where temp agency can only employ you for 90 days and then have to let you go) Searched like hell for another job b/c i didn't have enough hours for mat leave. By the time i finally did get call backs i was so pregnant that no one would hire me. Great timing since we also had to move to a bigger place. Luckily had just enough money saved from working to pay for the move. We also found out from my son's doctor that he was having allergies to the dog. He was put on sudofed (spelling?) which helped. Then my dog got fleas! I started calling for quotes on getting advantage (i was also treating her myself with over the counter meds). Found out the cheapest i could get her treated was $160 b/c they also wanted to give her shots? Neways $160 at the time might as well have been $5000 dollars. So i kept trying to treat them myself. They were so bad me and my son were being eaten alive. To make matters worse we were looking for rentals like mad. Every time we found a decent enough rental by the time we made it over to look at the place it was taken! Money was an issue so we couldn't afford to be overly picky but needed a 3 bedroom. 3 weeks before our notice was up we finally found one that was decent and we could afford it. But the catch was.... No dogs. Apparently the landlord had just had issues with a previous tennant and had to rip up all the carpet. Not to mention the doors are still all scratched up. We tried to convince him that our dog was well-trained and he wouldn't have an issue. We'd even put down a pet deposit. He wasn't interested. So i had 3 weeks to find her a home. Luckily I had just discover a website called kijiji a local classifieds site. I put an add explaining the situation and warning about the fleas and that she would require a vet check asap. I felt so ashamed that i had rescued her and could no longer take care of her properly. I was also looking into No-kill shelters and found one willing to take her if i couldn't find a home for her. LUCKILY, i got many replies... i screened them and found an awesome girl (actually from my hometown) who was a vet student, lived in the country and was a huge animal lover. She adopted Val from me and we still keep in touch via FB. I get to see pics of her whenever i like (she takes a lot of pics b/c she's interested in photography). So i got the best case scenerio for her in a tough situation.
My son's coughing cleared up about a month after she left. We eventually were able to get rid of the fleas. She got the treatment she desperately needed. Which ended up costing $500. Tricky vets.
So do i see it as a happy ever after? No, a happy ever after would have been being able to keep her and afford to take care of her properly. Would i do the same if i ran into hard times with my children. Obviously not... that's the difference. I could NEVER even think of giving up my children. As much as i loved my dog and seen her through many hard times. When it comes down to choosing between my family and my pet I'm going to choose my family every time.

Kate CP - posted on 09/01/2010

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No, I don't surrender pets to shelters because I know what happens there. If a pet I have ever cannot stay with me I find a no kill group that does foster work and adopt them out. About 95% of animals surrendered to shelters never leave...they end up dead.

Erin - posted on 09/01/2010

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I would never minimise another person's pain, but at the same time I really don't think it's a fair comparison to say that losing a pet is like losing a child. My childhood cat died at 16 - I was 23 and living interstate - and I literally cried for 3 days. When I came home for Christmas (2 months later) I was shown the plaque my Mum had placed in Mischa's favourite spot in the garden and I cried all over again. Ofcourse it was devastating, but I would never have likened it to the grief of a bereaved parent.

Morgan - posted on 09/01/2010

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I agree thats its horrible for pets to be takin to shelters for training reasons like peeing chewing ect,
but somtimes theres no other choice, would you sacrafice your childs health to keep an pet, I would not.
I would of corse try everything I could to find my pet a home with family or a friend but If I was left no other options and it was harming my child in anyway I would give it up, and hope you as mothers would do the same.

Kate CP - posted on 08/31/2010

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I agree with Sharon. People get a puppy and think "Aww, how cute." Then when the puppy is 6 months old and is chewing up things, running away, biting, barking, peeing in the house, digging up stuff, and just generally being a puppy they give it to the shelter. 3 days later that puppy is usually dead and on the way to a rendering facility to be processed into pet food (no, I'm not exaggerating). It's disgusting and as a rescue worker it pisses me off to no end. A pet should be for life.

Sharon - posted on 08/31/2010

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Um I want to point out that I do despise people who "get rid" of their pets because they have a child. The humane society is a joke, they smile at you and take your pet while calculating how much it will cost to kill your pet and how much food that will take away from the multitudes of kittens of puppies born in their shelters every day.

The odds of an adult pet being adopted are incredibly slim. Adult cats - the odds go down even further. People suck ass.

Kate CP - posted on 08/31/2010

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When I lost my dog, Cooper, I was devastated. I cried for days. If I ever lose one of my kids I may kill myself. Big difference.

Charlie - posted on 08/31/2010

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The difference is we ARE all parents of course it wouldnt be comparable to losing our own children , it could never come close but that doesnt mean that the pain felt by a pet owner who doesnt have kids would be any less than ours , its just that our priorities have changed we hold our children in the highest reguard whereas they hold their pets , i think discounting a persons pain and greif is insensitive on our behalf .

We may not feel like a pet would be as devestating than losing a child but its not for us to say that a person who loses a pet should not feel as if they have lost a part them that they often feel is like a child TO THEM .

Serena - posted on 08/31/2010

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We used to have a cat when my son was about a year old. Then we found out my son was having breathing problems and the cat might have something to do with situation (per his pediatrician). So we chose to take the cat to the humane society. We find out that we were hated by our neighbors for doing such an act. We were animal abusers and should go to jail for relinquishing our cat for our son's health. (We lived in military housing with rules that stated your animal cannot leave your yard, have you ever tried to keep one in your yard?)
So I can understand how some people really believe that animals' lives are so important. I do agree that most of these people don't have children of their own or their children are grown no longer needing the constant attention that pets adore.
But I do think that even when meant well, its not proper social protocol to compare pains. Each person's loss hurts...

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I could deal with my pup dieing..even if it broke my heart and my family's.If i lost my children i wouldnt be alive..there my life.I live for them..there is no comparison.I agree with sharon even thinking of this is to much..im done with the thread now..:-(

Sharon - posted on 08/31/2010

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Some people have nothing else to compare the loss to. For some people their pets are like their kids or like a child to them.

I love my dogs deeply. I love my great pyrenese, Lola, deeply and I would be devastated if she were to die. But in contemplating her death - i see an end to my grief. Well, not an "END" but I see surviving it and moving on. I would spend almost any amount to keep her alive and do almost anything for her. I would go to great lengths.

I would not sell my home, refinance my car or ... well I was going to say I wouldn't give her my kidney - but if we could do such a thing - maybe I would. Definitely I'd give part of my liver!

But in contemplating the death of my children - i can't go there. Nope, my brain won't do it. Its terrifying and makes my heart ache contemplating it.

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I had a dog for a week and he died..i felt extremely heartbroken and so did my partner.It was our first pup we got for my 6mth old and five year old.He was 6weeks when he died after we tried everything to save him at the vets.Loss is loss and i felt wow if it hurts this bad for a pet i dont ever want to know how it feels for your own child or what people have gone through who have lost a child.If i had no kids and someones child died i wouldnt compare my dog dieing to them at that time lol..thats insensitive.As you dont know how the other people will take it at that time.Its not easy watching an animal so sick and to watch it die..i wish i had of put him down and spare his suffering but the told me he was fighting it.:-(kills me to know how much he suffered.I guess compassion is very strong its felt for every living thing human and animal.



The loss of a child is felt i guess on a deeper level & i agree you can deal with an animals death&let go but the death of a child is one many will never get over..it might become easier to deal with ,with time but you never fully heal.

Chrystal - posted on 08/31/2010

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Honestly I don't think it's insensitive. You never know what somebody's situation is. Some women can't have kids so their animals are their kids. So you just can never judge a situation.

Tara - posted on 08/31/2010

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I don't think it's a fair comparison, and I think the majority of those people don't have children. So for them trying to imagine what it would be like to lose a child is impossible.
I love my dog dearly, she's been with me for 7 years, through thick and thin, she's stood solemnly by while I hugged her and cried my eyes out when I was leaving my husband, she has protected me from my ex-husband, she has saved one of my kids, she has found one of my kids who got lost. She has in many ways been my best friend albeit silently.
She is loyal, obedient and lovable. And the day she dies will be one of the worst in my life, but I will get passed it and I will carry on, and I will get another dog etc.
If I lost my child, I can guarantee that I would be wrapped front to back and placed in a padded room for a time, heavily medicated and beyond grief.
That is the difference to me, the pain at her death would be horrible, but the after affects would be so much more lasting and life impacting if it were my child who had died.
Awwww. now I'm sad cause my hubby's dog is going on 16, she's deaf, almost blind and has bad hips, she's still a puppy in her mind though. And it will break hubby's heart when she goes, but even though she has been his baby all her life, he will move on. She has had a long life and a happy one, he will miss her but he will not mourn her the way he would if Riley were to pass on.
Sniff Sniff, we'll be lucky to have old Dixie girl with us this time next year.

Ashley - posted on 08/31/2010

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I believe the ones that make that comparison are the ones that do not have children. For them or at least some of them they have chosen not to have babies and instead they get a dog to fill the void, hence why they treat there dogs like babies.
Before I had my son just the thought of someday my Dog and cats would not be around killed me inside. Now that I have my son when I think about my animals dieing its only gut wrenching the thought of what it may do to my sons heart. Animals are in my mind a important part of a family, but to compare to a child being lost is crazy.

LaCi - posted on 08/31/2010

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I think there are many people who only have their pets. For those people, it is somewhat comparable. Obvious differences between a pet and a child: Generally your pet is going to die after living what would be considered a *long life* for a pet, we know that, more than likely, our pet will die before we do. If you lose a child, their life is cut short since ideally we die before our children. For most of us, the bond between us and our children and us and our pets is vastly different, but I don't doubt that some, although few, feel the same bond with their pets that we would have with our children. Usually because that's all they have, their only companion.

Meghan - posted on 08/31/2010

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I had a family dog who passed away when I was 16...she was THE greatest thing ever...until I had my son. It may be insensitive, and I understand some ppl have never felt the love of a child but it isn't the same thing! Pets are great and they do love no matter what, but they ARE replaceable! I can get a new *edit* dog, I could never in a million years replace my son!

Emma Louise - posted on 08/31/2010

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Having lost my baby son myself, I personaly think that losing a child is alot harder than losing a pet, yeh fair enough you might love your cat/dog, but you have carried your child, bonded with your bump, gave birth to your child, had all those precious first smiles, laughs...watched them develop thier little personalitys. If a child passes away thats it. Theres nothing that can lessen the pain, the sick feeling you get everytime you see a child the same age as your's would of been...when a pet passes away most people go out a buy a new one?!..xx

Charlie - posted on 08/30/2010

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I was devastated when my dog died , i still think about him all the time and he died almost ten years ago .

Grieving pain is relative to each person as an individual , some people may very well feel deep pain akin to losing a child , for some people their pets ARE their child .

If i lost any of my children i really do not know how i would cope it would be a million times worse but who am i to say my pain is more worthy than the pain of a person who lost their dog , if thats all they have had in their life i would say their pain would be equally as hard .

Different people , different circumstances , different ways of coping and grieving its really too hard to compare .

Dana - posted on 08/30/2010

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Mary, I agree it is a terrible loss. It's strange when you don't have that constant pet in your life. You don't realize how often you mindlessly pet them or talked to them when no one else was around. It leaves a huge hole in your heart. I still feel grief from losing our cat and I swear between the loss of her and quitting smoking (at the same time), I almost had a breakdown. lol

[deleted account]

I have lost pets that I loved. Animals are such a comfort to people. I think of them as my little angels. I always grieve when I lose one. My children are loved in a deeper way than my pets, if I lost one of my children, I don't know if I could go on or not. I certainly wouldn't want to.

Mary - posted on 08/30/2010

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No, Dana, I know that if I lost Molly, it would destroy me in a way that Charlie or Sammy's loss would not. However, I'm not sure I fully understood that until AFTER she was in my life.

I do think a big difference for me is that when I got the boys, I knew that I would outlive them...I expect them to only be with me for 10-15 years. My most sincere hope is that Molly will go on, and live a long, happy life well after I'm no more than a memory in her heart.

One of the things my mother's death reinforced for me is how acutely you feel the loss of someone who is a part of your every day world. It's not that my sister, who lives over an hour away, misses or loved my mother less, but her grief is different on a daily basis, simply becasue she did not see or talk to her nearly as often as I did. I can only imagine it is even more difficult for my dad, who lived with her for 44 years.

Pets are hard to lose, in part, because they are a part of your everyday existence. Your house feels empty and not right when they are gone, because you are so accustomed to them just being there. In that sense, I do think that pet owners can, in some ways, identify with a person who lost a child. I guess I just don't get hung up on the "whose loss is greater/more devastating" comparison....I just think that it is a heartfelt loss for BOTH, and worthy of kindness and compassion.

Dana - posted on 08/30/2010

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I still disagree. I had a cat and a dog that I'd had since age 1 (the cat) and age two (the dog) my dog died when I was 16, my cat when I was 17. It was horrible when either of them died. I had a raccoon (from a bloodline that had been domesticated for 25yrs) I got her at 8wks and had her for 3 yrs, she was unlike any pet I've ever had, she slept with me and even sat on my hip like a baby. When she died I was devastated, I literally fell into a heap. I've also had 2 dogs and a cat who have since passed. That was all pre- Ethan but, never did I feel like I could compare my love for them like a mother or father would for an actual child.

Jocelyn - posted on 08/30/2010

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For people who don't have children, then yes, losing a pet (who they've had for 15 odd years, house trained, fed, loved...hmmm that sounds suspiciously familiar) to them it IS losing a child. To those of us that have both kids and pets, of course we know it's not the same. But that doesn't make the pet (only) family's grief less valid than ours (human child families).

Mary - posted on 08/30/2010

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Hmmm...while I don't love my dogs in the same way I do my daughter, I do love them enormously, and will be devastated when they die. People swore to me that they would become of secondary importance once I had a child...and that was NOT true. Having a baby in no way diminished my affection for them. I had to work a little harder to balance the attention bit, but it was certainly doable, and very much worth the effort. If anything, my dogs (if they could talk) would tell you that my having a baby was a good thing in their lives...I was home more, and now they have two females who love on them...and God knows life got more exciting once she started feeding herself (and sharing it all with them!).



I realize that to some of you it may sound insensitive, but I honestly think it is just some people's misguided way of expressing empathy to another's significant loss. ANY loss is difficult, and to trivialize the grief of a pet owner just because you yourself don't value animals in the same way they do isn't exactly "right" either.



Believe me, the world would be a much better place if every parent on this planet loved, nutured and cared for their CHILDREN as much as I do my boys!

Jaime - posted on 08/30/2010

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I agree that the pain of losing someone or a pet that was loved and cared for is equally devastating for some people. I do think there is a difference between the loss of a pet and the loss of a child, but the pain that someone experiences cannot be measured in general terms. My parents have three cats and my step-mother is a bit ridiculous about their health and well-being to the point where their social life revolves around the cats' schedule...yes, that's right, I said schedule. I realize that the oldest cat has a thyroid condition...but he's already 16 years old and in my mind I say just let him be. I love animals and I would never treat an animal that I owned in any cruel manner, but I certainly don't think the loss of a pet would compare to the loss of my son. I also don't think people are intentionally trying to be insensitive when they do compare...as has already been mentioned, people process and experience love and grief differently than others.

Lyndsay - posted on 08/30/2010

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I think so. Some people don't have children, so their pets are like their kids. Or some people even have kids, but like their pets better. Either way, losing something that you love and cherish above everything else hurts.

Jenni - posted on 08/30/2010

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ok i guess i can't guarentee it! I guess there are people out there who love their dog more than their kids. I'll rephrase it: "Most" of these people if they had a child would not love their dog more than their child. :) ummm.... but if you do love your dog more than your child then something is right there.

Dana - posted on 08/30/2010

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Teresa, you honestly think your Grandfather loved his dogs more than his children?

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My Grandpa cared for his dogs so much that he was actually buried w/ them when he died. He had 4 kids, so your guarantee is false. It SHOULD be that the kids are more important than the animals, but it isn't always that way.....

Jenni - posted on 08/30/2010

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I understand that the people making this comparison probably don't have children and see their pet as their child. But I can gaurentee if they did have a child they would never feel as strongly about that pet as they do their child. To make a 'comparison' of grief is the insensitive part of the statement. To make a comparison like that on TV in front of many people it could apply to is idiotic and ignorant.

Dana - posted on 08/30/2010

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I think it's absurd. Anyone who could say that about losing their dog or pet couldn't actually have lost a child. It's just moronic.

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