Kids, Pets and Heaven?

I can’t say I am a huge pet person. I mean, I don’t hate animals, but I have never really had a great track record with pets other than for a couple of exceptions.

  1. As a kid, I had a cat named Jessie that lived 11 years (I think!) and made it through three house moves with us, until one day she just didn’t come home. Still, I don’t recall her being overly affectionate or much of a real pet.
  2. I had a wee teacup Pomeranian named Tanner that I loved dearly! I had him for three years and then I had my daughter. He became very jealous and aggressive towards her and, when she was nine months old, I had to give him away to family. I still saw him frequently until he passed away a couple of years later.

Other than for those two cases, our pets have never really lived very long, I’m sad to say. We grew up in the country, so frequently cats and dogs were hit by cars, or worse – eaten by wild animals. I grew up liking the idea of a family pet, but never really experiencing it.

That was until about three years ago, when we received a Beta fish as a loot-bag gift at a birthday party my daughter attended.

At first I thought ,“Oh great, a fish in a loot bag? Who does that? Geesh, this thing is going to die in like a week!”

My daughter, who was not quite three at the time, was super excited! She set out calling her male fish Dory, based on the character from Finding Nemo. After a few days, we decided to go get a nice little Beta fish tank with blue stones, a plastic tree and some food pellets.

After the first couple of weeks, the novelty of a fish wore off on her and it was up to me to make sure the little fishy was fed and his water was changed. Over time, as soon as he saw me (I like to think) he would swim up to the surface and wait for his meal! About nine months after the birthday party, our little Dory was the only one alive out of the 10-13 fish given out as loot-bag gifts. What was our secret? I don’t really know.

Fast forward almost three years: I noticed our little Dory was not eating and not as energetic as he once had been. His “breathing” seemed way too laboured. I knew it wasn’t looking good. I changed his water and kept checking in on him many times a day.

One afternoon while the kids were outside playing with my husband I saw him. Poor Dory was vertical, nose down in the rocks. I was very, very sad actually, way more than I ever expected over a fish.

Then it hit me, I had to tell Ava, my daughter. She would be devastated!

But she wasn’t, not really at all. I told her and she made a fake crying face. Then she said she wanted another fish like Dory, except a girl this time, and walked out of the room. Annndd she hasn’t mentioned it again, almost two weeks later!

It was me, the non-pet -lover, who was more upset over losing our little fish. So it got me thinking about how maybe we make a much bigger deal about pet deaths than our kids. At her age, maybe kids take it at face value and can move on.

Mind you, Dory wasn’t as interactive a pet as a dog or a cat, but he was still a pet nonetheless.

I would love to hear how you have dealt with the deaths of your family pets and what reactions your children have had to them.

Crystal is a work-at-home-mom to two beautiful little children and a wife to one! Together with her family, Crystal resides just outside of the nation’s capital in the Ottawa Valley. Not that moms get a lot of spare time, but when she does, Crystal is busy as a co-founder of Ottawa Valley Moms and you can find her corresponding daily with their followers via social media outlets. Never a dull moment doing the most important job there is – raising your family! Visit Ottawa Valley Moms at http://www.ottawavalleymoms.com  and follow Crystal on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/crystal_lou_who

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  • Great post Crystal! I would probably be the exact same way LOL!

  • Lana

    My dog is 18 and on his last legs. I’m so worried about how my 8 year old will deal with his passing but I’ve had the same feeling as the author. That maybe the big deal will come from me, and the fake tears she sheds will be easily forgotten. But at 8… I’m really not sure and I’m worrying about it daily (since his passing is imminent). 

  • It is a teachable moment. Here are my suggestions. Thank your teachers: Sharing grief with students http://bit.ly/YCHYzy It helps to grieve pets, before they must face grief for grandparents, for example. You model it. Many kids must grive parents, as well. This is when a bereavement program is important.