Our very large dog (100 lbs), is 15 years old. Up until the last year, people commented about what great shape he was in. Now, they comment, on his age. He’s starting to look and act like an elderly fellow.
I realize one day, very soon, our family pet, will no longer be with us. So–how do I soften the upcoming blow and make this a learning experience for my kids as well? We’ve talked about his aging–they can definitely see it. And I had them go with me to the last vet visit–where the vet prescribed joint medication, talked about his cataracts, his minor skin irritations, and actually said there was no point in updating any vaccinations other than his rabies shot. The kids read between the lines….they understood.
On the way home from the vet, they discussed ways to make their dog’s last months….or year….or hopefully more…. an enjoyable experience. They decided to take him on daily walks and take him to the dog beach when possible. And best of all–they’re following through!
Pets are a wonderful addition to our families. They teach our children so much. Right now, our dog is teaching my children about aging. They are responding with increased empathy and compassion. I am very proud of them.
Eventually, my kids will learn about loss. I already have the books Dog Heaven and Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant in our family library. These are amazing books that I think all pet owners should own.
For now though, we’re focusing on dog parks and long walks!