Monday, June 30, 2008
What To Tell a Toddler When the Family Pet Dies…
We came home this afternoon and discovered that our Beagle, Mr. Monkey, had died.
We knew it was coming for some time, about 2 years since the vet initially predicted because of his age and ails; but now that it has the grief and the guilt are kicking in. What has me really distressed is that I had a weird feeling about him last Thursday when he began losing his appetite. Now I have remorse knowing that I should have jumped on my instincts and taken him to the vet.
God, just the thought of him suffering alone with nobody around is just eating me up inside. I never wanted it to happen like that…
Mr. Monkey’s Origins
We found him at a Beagle rescue over 7 years ago, the weekend after we moved into our house. When we saw him we knew he was “the one” because he was very low-key, gentle, and just wanted to sit near anybody who would be willing to pet him for awhile. He had the personality of a cat, but came in the package of a dog.
He did have some odd traits, such as he wouldn’t put anything in his mouth, except food; wouldn’t play catch or fetch. And he couldn’t bark as his previous owners had him “de-barked” (the first I had heard of such a thing – a very creepy practice.) In place of his barking he made whimpering noises, which resembled a monkey, thus his name was given. Except we added “Mr.” obviously influenced by Mr. T.
Eventually his vocal cords did grow back and he was able to bark, a little, sounding more like an old smoker than a dog.
When our daughter came along she just adored him. He of course, like most dogs when a new baby arrives, didn’t want anything to do with her until she became big enough to drop small pieces of food - on purpose.
In the last year or so she began helping me care for Mr. Monkey. Brushing him in the morning and evening, feeding him at night, and serving him his meds. She had lots of 'conversations' with him which was both fascinating and entertaining. At times she could be showing off some “pretty dress” of hers, telling him what she’s done most of the day, or asking him if he’s seen some random movie. According to her, he has and likes all kinds of movies and he 'really likes' her dresses.
Since this just happened tonight, I’m expecting her to ask for him in the morning. And now I’m searching for the right thing to tell her.
Just how do you explain death to a near 3-year old, especially when it’s a pet that they’ve seen everyday for their entire existence?
I really don’t know. The only thing I do know is that I’m really going to miss him…