Long before kids, we had dogs, and they were our children. Yes, I was a crazy dog person who dressed them up, baked homemade treats, and got frequent remarks that I should just have kids. Well, we did just that, and each of our child then developed a fond love for their furry siblings.
Last year, we lost our oldest dog, Bobo, and then this past week we lost our beloved pug, Animal. Animal was 13 years old and was frequently sick. Each visit to the vet, we anticipated the worse, but each time the vet seemed to have a positive outlook on his health. A month ago, we really thought it would be our last vet visit. We took a few photos with our beloved Pug, then found out it was only an ear infection. We had a few great weeks with Animal and then this past week, his body just couldn’t do it anymore and he passed away.
This time, explaining to our older kids that our dog was gone was much easier. Preparing them in advance helped the situation. There were still a lot of tears, but we just knew that Animal had lived all that his body would let him. We explained as best as we could to our toddlers, but to a 2- and 3-year-old in the whirlwind of the news, they seem unfazed. I told myself, they are still young, and death is hard to comprehend.
Fast-forward a few days, and the house is somewhat adjusting itself to life without Animal. The older kids are accepting of Animal’s death. My husband and I are crying a little less. But now, our 3-year-old seems to have realized that something in the house is missing: Animal.
We had just gotten home; it was late. We were trying to get the kids in bed when Izaiah started inquiring about Animal and his whereabouts. He asked these 6 questions about our dog’s death, 6 questions and reactions both funny and sad that we will never forget.
The thoughts of my toddler trying to comprehend death are so literal.
As I was writing this post in my typical style – write, pause and do something, return writing, repeat - I had this photo of Animal open in Fireworks. I didn’t think anything about it. Izaiah came up and started screaming “There’s Animal!! Animal asleep mommy in the compooter.” I wish he was sleeping in the compooter, Izaiah — then we would be able to check in on him whenever we want.
We Skype and FaceTime with all of our family. The poor boy is probably thinking we can just Skype with Animal. Unfortunately, as of right now, heaven doesn’t have a webcam.
God, can you work on that?
Have You Explained Death to Your Toddler?