how do i tell my little girl her dog Holly isnt coming home???

Zoe - posted on 11/14/2011 ( 9 moms have responded )




on sunday we had to have our dog Holly put to sleep,this all came about very quickly and im struggling to find a way of explaining were shes gone. the most crushing thing was the first thing my daughter asked wen we came bak from the vet,weres Holly?? i couldnt hide my emotions and cried wen i said i wouldnt.
ive tried to say that Holly has gone to help Father Christmas and wen she has helped him she is going to help all the other poorly doggies in heaven.
do you think im doing the right thing??


Krista - posted on 11/15/2011




I think that however you're comfortable explaining it, is the right way to do it.

In your shoes, and were I religious/spiritual, this is what I'd say:

"Honey, doggies and kitties and other living things have a body. Their arms, their ears, their tails. And then there's her spirit, which is how much they love us, what they like, what they think.

When their body gets too old and worn-down, or too sick or hurt, it stops working. And it can't hold on to their spirit anymore. And that's what happened with Holly. She got very, very sick, and her body just wouldn't work anymore. So she had to go be with the spirits of the other doggies and kitties. And we'll miss her very, very much. And we'll always remember her."

And maybe when the first bit of emotion has passed, you can suggest that the two of you put together a nice collage of pictures of Holly, interspersed with slips of paper mentioning nice memories you have of her, and you can frame it.

Aimee - posted on 11/15/2011




For me honesty here is the best policy. We had to put our dog down and my son with me at the time. We didnt know that it was going to happen then and there. I took him outside to play with our other dog as the first dog left us. When he asked where is pebbles I explained that she went to heaven to run and play and be happy. To this day he is now three he asks me question about her and I answer honestly. Loss is a part of life unforunately and they need to know things will be okay after. Its so hard! I am very sorry for your loss

Amy - posted on 11/15/2011




We faced this with my son when he was about 3. His grandfathers dog was diagnosed with stomach cancer and within days the dog had to be put down. Although it wasn't our dog it was one that Hebrew around every day. We informed him that the dog went to heaven because it was very sick and there was nothing the doctors could do to save him. We explained the dog was in pain and could no longer live. We did say the dog was in heaven but made it very clear that heaven was not a place that we could visit.

When explaining to your daughter avoid phrases like put to sleep, or went to sleep because you could be creating a problem for your daughter about wanting to go to sleep. If you are going to say the dog was sick make sure you explain that sometimes animals and people get sick and there isn't medicine to help them. Depending what was wrong with the dog you could use it specifically we told our son the dog had cancer because he didn't know what it was specifically and no one else around us has it so he wouldn't be able to put it all together. I'm so sorry for your loss of your pet, they are like family and it's so hard to lose something that loves you unconditionally.

Jane - posted on 11/14/2011




How old is your daughter? And what sort of religious teaching are you providing if any? It would seem to me that what you said is fine unless you are a rabid atheist.

When my daughter was four and our cat died, my grandmother died, our neighbor died, and my husband went into hospital suddenly, all in the space of a week, we explained to her that great grandma and Larry (the neighbor) had bodies that didn't work any more on earth, so they went to live in God's house, where they would have new and healthy bodies. She decided on her own that our cat also went to God's house, and that they were all playing cards there.

Then when we went to see how Daddy was doing in the ICU she asked the doctor if Daddy was also going to go play cards at God's house. He didn't understand what she meant so I explained it to him, and he immediately said "Of course not!" and actually insisted that I take both kids into the ICU to see that Daddy was still here on earth. My son was only two and managed to pull one emergency cord while we were there, but it reassured my daughter greatly.

Kids need to know that their pet is not coming back ever, but that the animal isn't in pain or missing their family. A semi-religious explanation seems to me to be a perfectly good way to explain things.


View replies by

Zoe - posted on 11/16/2011




thank you all so much,im going to put together an album of pics of Holly,Robyn and Connie together,im being as honest as i can with her and have said that she is in heaven and that wen we see the stars shining thats Holly watching us. but Holly is busy helping father christmas and when shes finished shes going to help other poorly doggies in the sky.
i just hope that Connie will understand that we did the right thing coz right now i feel awful and feel like ive killed her best friend. x

Aniesha - posted on 11/15/2011




I think you're doing a great thing. Children need a happy story. It's a sad time, and she's still going to miss her dog anyway, so if you give her something nice to think about I think that eases the pain. Sorry for ur loss, it's hard losing a pet, they're so much a part of your family:(

Zoe - posted on 11/15/2011




my daughter is 3 on 26th dec and im christian but i wouldnt force any sort of beliefs on her unless it brought her comfort,i just hope im doing the right thing.xx thank you ladies xx

Denikka - posted on 11/14/2011




A nice story about your dog going to help God, or Santa, or the angels or something like that is a great story :)
You could also explain that Holly came to live with your family because you needed to learn from each other. Now that you've learned what you need to from each, she's gone on to another family in another form who needs to learn from her.
Here's a story that always made me cry, but feel better :) I realize that they are geared towards rats, but they can be altered for any animal :) I would also suggest doing a search for the Rainbow Bridge poem :)

The little orange boy stopped. Behind him, ratties were playing, chasing each other and wrestling in the warm sunshine. It looked like so much fun, but in front of him, through the clear stillness of the pond's water, he could see his mommy. And she was crying.
He pawed at the water, trying to get at her, and when that didn't work, he jumped into the shallow water. All that got him was wet, and Mommy's image danced away in the ripples. "Mommy!" he cried.
"Is something wrong?"
The little orange boy turned around. A lady was standing at the edge of the pond, her eyes sad but filled with love. The little orange boy sighed and walked out of the water. "There's been a mistake," he said. "I'm not supposed to be here." He looked back at the water. It was starting to still again and his mommy's image was coming back. "I'm just a baby. Mommy said it had to be a mistake. She said I wasn't supposed to come here yet."
The kind lady sighed and sat down on the grass. The little orange boy climbed into her lap. It wasn't Mommy's lap, but it was almost as good. When she started to pet him and scratch behind his ears like he liked, he started to chitter and chatter and grind his teeth in happiness. He hadn't wanted to, but he couldn't help it. "I'm afraid there is no mistake. You are supposed to be here, and your mommy knows it deep down in her heart." the lady said.
The little orange boy sighed and laid his head on the lady's leg. "But she's so sad. It hurts me to see her cry. And Daddy too."
"But they knew right from the beginning this would happen."
"That I was sick?" That surprised the little orange boy. No one had ever said anything and he had listened when they thought he was sleeping. All he had heard them talk about was how cute he was or how fast he was or how big he was getting.
"No, not that you were sick," the lady said. "But you see, they chose tears."
"No, they didn't," the little orange boy argued. "Who would choose to cry?"
The lady gently brushed the top of his head with a kiss. It made him feel safe and loved and warm-but he still worried about his mommy. "Let me tell you a story," the lady said.
The little orange boy looked up and saw other animals gathering around.
Cats--Big Boy and Snowball and Shamus and Abby and little Cleo and Robin. Merlin and Toby and Iggy and Zachary. Sweetie and Kamatte and Obie.
Dogs too--Sally and Baby and Morgan and Rocky and Belle. Even a lizard named Clyde and some rats named Saffron and Becky and a hamster named Odo. They all lay down near the kind lady and looked up at her, waiting.
She smiled at them and began:
A long long time ago, the Loving Ones went to the Angel in Charge. They were lonesome and asked the angel to help them.
The angel took them to a wall of windows and let them look out the first window at all sorts of things-dolls and stuffed animals and cars and toys and sporting events.
"Here are things you can love," the angel said. "They will keep you from being lonesome."
"Oh, thank you," the Loving Ones said. "These are just what we need."
"You have chosen Pleasure," the angel told them.
But after a time the Loving Ones came back to the Angel in Charge. "Things are okay to love," they said, "but they don't care that we love them."
The Angel in Charge led them over to the second window. It looked out at all sorts of wild animals. "Here are animals to love," he said. "They will know you love them."
So the Loving Ones hurried out to care for the wild animals. "You have chosen Satisfaction," the angel said.
Some of the Loving Ones worked at zoos and wild animal preserves, some just had bird feeders in their yards, but after a time they all came back to the Angel in Charge.
"They know we love them," they told the angel, "but they don't love us back. We want to be loved in return."
So the angel took them to the third window and showed them lots of people walking around, hurrying places. "Here are people for you to love," the angel told them. So the Loving Ones hurried off to find other people to love. "You have chosen Commitment," the angel said.
But after a time a lot of Loving Ones came back to the Angel in Charge. "People were okay to love," they said, "but sometimes they stopped loving us and left. They broke our hearts."
The angel just shook his head. "I cannot help you." he said. "You will have to be satisfied with the choices I gave you."
As the Loving Ones were leaving, someone saw a window off to one side and hurried to look out. Through it, they could see puppies and kittens and dogs and cats and lizards and hamsters and ferrets. The other Loving Ones hurried over. "What about these?" they asked.
But the angel just tried to shoo them away. "Those are Personal Empathy Trainers," he said, "but there's a problem with their system operations."
"Would they know that we love them?" someone asked.
"Yes," the angel said.
"Would they love us back?" another asked.
"Yes." the angel said.
"Will they stop loving us?" someone else asked.
"No," the angel admitted. "They will love you forever."
"Then these are what we want." the Loving Ones said.
But the angel was very upset. "You don't understand," he told them. "You will have to feed these animals."
"That's all right," the Loving Ones said.
"You will have to clean up after them and take care of them forever."
"We don't care."
The Loving Ones did not listen. They went down to where the Pets were and picked them up, seeing the love in their own hearts reflected in the animals' eyes.
"They were not programmed right," the angel said. "We can't offer a warranty. We don't know how durable they are. Some of their systems malfunction very quickly, others last a long time."
But the Loving Ones did not care. They were holding the warm little bodies and finding their hearts so filled with love that they thought they would burst. "We will take our chances." they said.
"You do not understand." The angel tried one more time. "They are so dependent on you that even the most well-made of them is not designed to outlive you. You are destined to suffer their loss."
The Loving Ones looked at the sweetness in their arms and nodded. "That is how it should be. It is a fair trade for the love they offer."
The angel just watched them all go, shaking his head. "You have chosen Tears." he whispered.
"So it is," the kind lady told the animals, "and so each mommy and daddy knows. When they take a baby into their heart, they know that one day it will leave them, and they will cry."
The little orange boy sat up. "So why do they take us in?" he asked.
"Because even a moment of your love is worth years of pain later."
"Oh." The little orange boy got off the lady's lap and went back to the edge of the pond. His mommy was still there and still crying. "Will she ever stop crying?" he asked the kind lady.
She nodded. "You see, the Angel felt sorry for the Loving Ones, knowing how much they would suffer. He couldn't take the tears away but he made them special."
She dipped her hand into the pond and let the water trickle off her fingers. "He made them healing tears, formed from the special water here. Each tear holds bits of all the happy times of snuggling and petting and shared love. And the promise of love once again. As your mommy cries, she is healing.
"In time, she will be less sad and she will smile when she thinks of you. And then she will open her heart again to another little baby."
"But then she will cry again one day," the little orange boy said.
The lady just smiled at him as she got to her feet. "No, she will love again. That is all she will think about." She picked up Big Boy and Snowball and gave them hugs, then scratched Morgan's ear just how she liked.
"Look," she said, "the butterflies have come. Shall we go over to play?"
The other animals all ran ahead, but the little orange boy wasn't ready to leave his mommy. "Will I ever get to be with her again?"
The kind lady nodded. "You'll be in the eyes of every rattie she looks at. You'll be in the brux and boggle of every rat she pets. And late at night, when she's fast asleep, your spirit will snuggle up close to her and you both will feel at peace. One day soon, you can even send her a rainbow to tell her you're safe and waiting here for when it's her turn to come."
"I would like that." the little orange boy said and took one long look at his mommy. He saw her smile slightly through her tears, and he knew she had remembered the time he almost fell into the bathtub.
"I love you, Mommy," he whispered. "It's okay if you cry." He glanced over at the others, running and playing and laughing with the butterflies. "Uh, Mommy? I gotta go play now, okay? But I'll be around, I promise."
Then he turned and raced after the others.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms