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I am an animal person. I have been my entire life. I can almost measure different time periods in my life by the pets that I had. Sunshine, Autumn, and Brandy were in the early years. I met and loved Mandy, George, and Jordache in elementary school. Sophie and Rocky were with me from middle school until adulthood. One month after my husband and I married, we decided to get a dog. We went to the pound and came back with not one but two dogs, Red and Snoopy.
Snoopy was constantly sick. She was older and had cancer when we adopted her. We expected to have her maybe two or three years. We were blessed to have her for eight. She had a great life, and despite her many illnesses, lived virtually symptom free until the last two weeks of her life. By contrast, Red was the epitome of health. Ten years after we adopted her she was a spry and cute as the day we adopted her. She had never been to the vet aside from checkups and teeth cleanings. After Snoopy died in 2010 we adopted Bella, a fuzzy Sheepdog mix. Bella and Red bonded with each other and their other best friend, my nearly three year old son Adam.
Sadly, last week after a very short and unexpected health issue we euthanized Red. It was difficult. Red was suffering and it was obvious she would not overcome her health issues. Saturday morning she appeared fine and, yet, in the wee hours of Sunday morning we were at the emergency vet. My husband I were both shocked and caught off guard by her death. Unlike when Snoopy died, we weren’t prepared to lose her. And, there was something else we didn’t feel prepared to handle. How do I tell my nearly three year old that one of his best friends was gone? Agonizing over my own grief and pain was one thing but I wasn’t prepared to tell Adam. Fortunately, I remembered some of the grief training I have gotten during my time at Kate’s Club. First and foremost, I knew I needed to be honest with him. Children are more perceptive then we realize sometimes. Children at any age can and do grieve. I needed to keep it age appropriate. I also remembered that I only needed to answer the questions he actually asked. There was no need to explain her medical issues to him in depth. At his age he wasn’t likely to ask but what was important for him to understand is that she was gone and not coming back. And, if he wants to talk about her I will be there to listen and support him. We’ll get through this together as a family. All of us are grieving on some level, even Bella. Red was an important member of our family. She was the best snuggler, had the best and fuzziest floppy ears, and loved us unconditionally. She even tolerated my toddler. She will always hold a special place in my heart. She was a great companion and friend and is truly missed.
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