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How do I explain my dogs death to a 3 & 4 year old?

I have a boxer and about 2 months ago we found out he has lymphoma. We can't afford chemo but he's been on medication since he got tested. It worked for the first round but the second round isn't helping and he's starting to look swollen especially in his chest. This dog is a part of the family and was gotten for my dad as his 40th birthday gift. All my children know is that Dexter is sick but I don't know how to explain death to a 3 & 4 year old. And from what my mom is saying our pup won't last much longer and if he gets any worse he's going to be put down. She said he might have another month left in him. So after my dog passes away how would I explain him being gone to my children so they understand?

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Asked by NikLvsNick at 11:18 AM on Sep. 30, 2009 in Pets

Level 12 (891 Credits)
Answers (11)
  • He was so sick he couldn't get better. I wouldn't try to say he was an angel or there is a dog heaven. Just be honest and let them be sad. A new dog will probably help.

    Answer by Gailll at 11:26 AM on Sep. 30, 2009

  • There is a wonderful book called Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant. It is a wonderful story for kids and helps them cope with the loss. They may not totally understand because of their age but it does help. I will worn you that you may cry while reading it. I got this book 2 years ago when our dog died very unexpectedly and it was a god send for us. I did tell my daughter that they go to heaven because that is what i believe. Kylie still talks about Nick and says that she misses him but the pain is not there. I

    Answer by KyliesMom5 at 11:35 AM on Sep. 30, 2009

  • Bailye, my daughter's favorite cat, died in April. She was 3 and spent her first 3 years with him being her best friend. A couple days before he died, he had a wrap around him because of his "boo-boo." After he died, we let her see him and explained to her that he died because he boo-boo was so bad that God had to take him to Heaven so He could fix him, so Bailye now lives with God. She took it amazingly well. Just a couple weeks ago, a picture of her and Bailye popped up on the computer screensaver and her face got all serious and she said "Bay had boo-boo" and pointed to her stomach. A half second later, she was back to her normal happy self. I, however, was bawling. LOL

    Answer by AllAboutKeeley at 11:38 AM on Sep. 30, 2009

  • AllAboutKeeley says it all. Our beloved Angus died one year ago yesterday and Its my heart that still aches. Hold off a bit and let your daughter ask you. Don't be offended if she doesn't fuss as much as you do. Kids don't feel hurt or show it the same as we do. My advice is to not make a big deal about it. My sympathies for your loss.

    Answer by mygirlscome1st at 1:15 PM on Sep. 30, 2009

  • Also, there are millions of dogs waiting for loving homes at your local animal shelter. Maybe you can let your loss be a gain to one of them.

    Answer by mygirlscome1st at 1:19 PM on Sep. 30, 2009

  • I just explained to my kids that sometimes a person or animals body gets sooo hurt or soooo sick that it can't be fixed. The person or animals body won't work anymore. So the person or animal dies. They don't feel any more pain. I stressed the fact that they are no longer hurting and they feel all better, but their body doesn't work anymore.

    Answer by Petie at 11:35 PM on Sep. 30, 2009

  • We had this problem with my cat and my friends child (they lived next door, so eh was over every day). We just told him that the kitty was gone and wasn't coming back. He would say ok and pout for about ten min then he would start running around and be fine again. By the next day he would forget and we would have to tell him again. After about a week he quit asking about her and quit looking for her. He was 2 1/2.

    Answer by jedwards2009 at 1:54 AM on Oct. 1, 2009

  • We did tell our grand daughter that our dog was in dog and kitty cat heaven. She was upset for awhile but got over it very quickly. She understood his body just didn't work anymore. She will still sometimes still talk about him but she isn't sad. She was just 3 when he passed.

    Answer by meandmyshadow at 2:06 PM on Oct. 1, 2009

  • Here is a poem called Rainbow Bridge
    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.

    Answer by MizLee at 5:03 PM on Oct. 1, 2009

  • rainbow bridge continued...
    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

    Answer by MizLee at 5:03 PM on Oct. 1, 2009

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