Jun 9, 2009

Saying Goodbye to a Family Pet

Blue, my son and Spirit, June 2009

Soon I will have to help my son grieve. Our ever faithful canine friend "Blue" is dying of cancer. I became aware he was ill about a week ago when he started coughing. Chest x-rays proved to be a sad but definite truth, lung cancer.

Blue is a ten year old yellow Labrador retriever. I adopted him when he was three. When I was pregnant with my son, he would stand next to my chair or bed and support me while I pulled myself up. Like most family dogs with small children, he followed my son around all day and slept under his crib at night.
Now that my son is older, he still follows him hoping he will keep dropping crumbs. Following is Blue's thing, and he does better than any dog I have ever owned. His cancer is very advanced and his health is failing fast. There is no beneficial treatment at this point, so I have decided to provide him with hospice care until he tells me it's time.

I have always been truthful with my son about illness and dying. He sees me care for animals and pets every day in our home and in my work. Still, I know he does not understand that Blue will not get better this time. He tells me he will miss him, but he will see him later. I'm not sure what "later" means to him. Sometimes I think my son is wiser than I and that his innocent heart
holds truths mine has long forgotten.

Whether Blue dies on his own or I have to end his pain by euthanasia, he will remain at home with us. I suppose that's one advantage to being a vet tech, I have the permission of my vet to handle it myself (as I have done many times before). I plan to bury him in the yard and will be including my son if he wants to help. Right now he's a little confused, he thinks that Blue will be born again after we bury him, like the seeds we planted in the garden.

I know it will be sad for him, but I think the hardest part is going to be explaining to him that his big yellow dog is not going to be there playing with Spirit in the yard anymore. I don't know how much time we have, days maybe weeks. I will miss my four legged shadow.

I have been doing some reading about a pet's death and children. These sites were helpful to me and may be to your family, should the need arise.
Beliefnet: When a Child's Pet Dies
Grief and The Loss of a Pet

8 comments:

Obi-Mom Kenobi said...

I'm so sorry, DJ. Things like this just break my heart. I hope Blue is comfy and your son is comforted.

Mrs. C said...

I'm sorry for Blue and your son. I had no idea animals could die of lung cancer.

Split Rock Ranch said...

I'm so sorry for Blue and for your son and your family. Losing a beloved companion is always difficult. May Blue's journey to The Rainbow Bridge be an easy one.

DJ said...

@Obi-Mom: Blue is hanging in there, still eating but his breathing is labored at times. It came on so fast, I don't think I've had time to react yet. Thanks again for your kind words.
@Mrs.C: Thanks. The cancer is most likely in other areas as well based on how fast his lungs were affected.
@SplitRock: Thank you, this one I did not see coming.

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

So sorry to hear about Blue.
I lost my little Best Friend to cancer, too.
I am an SPCA foster mom, and we take care of some of the unadoptable ones until they go peacefully, or have to be PTS.

Maybe this will help you and your son:

http://www.indigo.org/rainbowbridge_ver2.html

This is the animated version.
Happy Trails, Penny, TX

H.E.Eigler said...

I'm sorry about your Blue. He sounds like a wonderful doggy pal. I'm sure your little guy will come to understaind what's happening although I imagine it will be tough. It's lovely that you will be able to look after him in his last days.

Sherri @ Luv a Bargain said...

As I wipe away my tears, I'm saying a prayer for you. I have been in your shoes. It is not an easy road. When my golden retriever reached that stage, it was so hard. But please rest assured, from my experience, children are resilient. Probably more than us. I'll be thinking of you all.

Katofmanycolors said...

So sad to read your article about Blue. We have been there and know what it is like.
Wishing happier days for you...KAT

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