paw prints on my heart
Kids,  Mom's Parenting Tool Box

Paw Prints on My Heart: Pet Loss with Little Kids

When my husband and I rented our first apartment together, way back when we were just engaged, he and I decided we wanted a dog. After a lot of rescue group research, we one day found ourselves at the local animal shelter. One little brown with white speckles doggy caught our eye. She was sweet, potty trained and stole our hearts the moment she jumped 5 feet into the air as we shut her back into the kennel to deliberate. She was due to be put down that week if not adopted. Of course, we took her! And here is the story of the Paw Prints on My Heart: Pet Loss with Little Kids.

Paw Prints on My Heart: Pet Loss with Little Kids

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We loved her and she loved us.

She was not an easy dog. The very high jump on the first day should have clued me in. Filled with separation anxiety, sickness, and high energy, she was a needy creature. I am a very committed person, but she sure did test my resolve. I worked hard to help her with all her issues, telling her always that she would be ours for the rest of her days. She gave me loads of training for the mom life.

Paw Prints on My Heart: Pet Loss with Little Kids

Time marches on.

With our wedding, a few mangled dog crates, 2 big moves, and a baby, my husband found himself with the Army. The deployment was upon us. Two states away from the rest of our family baby, doggy and I survived. Even though her crazy dog-ness she helped me make it. Kept me company when the babe was in bed for the night, was a wonderful road trip companion and she got me out of the house for daily walks. I did lose a leather sofa to her anxiety during that time, but she was worth it!

Paw Prints on My Heart: Pet Loss with Little Kids

She is the sweetest creature with all kids.

Fast-forward again to another move and another kid. I could not ask for a more patient dog for my babies. Her anxiety still raging, but her body starting to slow down. The gray crept across her face, age lumps formed on her body, muscle and bone began to constanly ache . To quote my brother, ?she can only go 100 miles an hour for so long before it starts having effects on her.? She still walked and wanted to be with me constantly but now sported her ?power limp? as I called it. The cold season made things even harder for her.

Paw Prints on My Heart: Pet Loss with Little Kids

She was struggling all the time. Still loving to be with us, but the happy sparkle of a life-loving dog was fast fading. My husband and I decided it was time for her to go over the rainbow bridge. We had a sweet day with her. Sleeping in, car ride, walk around the yard, and even cheeseburgers for lunch were had. We talked to the kids about her age, her pain and what was coming. I wanted them to know that dogs are amazing but just can?t live as long as us. She would be waiting on the other side of the rainbow bridge for us in doggy heaven.

I got a wonderful storybook for my daughter called, Fairy Dog Heaven.

My daughter is 3 and the closest of my kids to her doggy.

She is too young to really grasp the concept but did well with our talks. Any moment her dog crosses her mind she tells me ?Ziva?s in Doggy Heaven.? My 6-year-old has been very stoic and accepting of the situation. Super aware of our emotions about it all he told me, ?I?m sad but just not crying.? Last night we talked to my sister for the first time since she passed and he tells his aunt plainly, ?Ziva is dead?. My daughter replies, ?No she?s just in doggy heaven?. That exchange totally sums up their reactions to the whole thing. They definitely took it better than their father and I.

Paw Prints on My Heart: Pet Loss with Little Kids

I do miss her very much. She was such a BIG part of my life for a long time. I am so happy and lucky we stumbled upon her that day at the animal shelter. One day in the future we will try again. Because the love of a dog is unconditional and beautiful. It?s worth the sad goodbye that we have to give, always too soon. Her paw prints will be on my heart and my kid’s forever.

Please check out some of my other posts about stressful times with kiddos. 

5 Ways to cope when life gets hard and cat sleeping.
Connecting with the Kids when you are having a hard day.


  • Brie

    We just lost our beloved dog of ten years, he died due to CKD. It was awful. We miss him ALOT. He did some funny things, like chase bubbles and dance! Your post was very inspiring!

  • Denise

    Thank you for this heart warming post. It is not easy to lose a pet at any time and we do worry about how our children will cope. My son and I wrote a letter to our cat, which was great for him.
    While this was the post I came to read, I love your website and will be back in the future to read some of your other posts. Take care.

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