We had to euthanize our sweet little Olive 2 years ago. It was a tough choice, but basically we felt that the time had come when she had no quality of life. She would still eat (one of her great passions!), but we had to coax her to do so. She was falling and hurting herself. She would get confused and frightened in the house, and get "stuck" in corners and not know how to get out. There weren't really any available options to make her feel better - she'd had several strokes,and the first few we were able to help her recover almost fully from with steroids, but after the last couple, the damage seemed permanent. We scheduled the euthanasia for a Monday and spent the weekend giving her love and treating her like a little doggie princess.
My kids were 8 and 11 at the time. One of my best friends is a kids grief counselor, and she advised us to be as honest with them as possible and let them participate as much or as little as they wanted to. One important thing with kids is that they can be very literal, so don't use words like "putting down" or "putting to sleep". My kids wanted to go with us, so the whole family was there with Olive the entire time. Our vet was FABULOUS with explaining what was going on without being too technical for the kids or scaring them at all. Olive died in my lap with everyone she loved around her. When we got her ashes back we had a little ceremony and scattered some of them in a corner of our garden that she loved to roll around in, and the kids made a plaque to put there.
With younger kids, you'd probably want to do things somewhat differently - giving them simplified facts, and maybe not having them right in the room the whole time.
We still miss her a LOT, but I feel like we did the right thing for her.
Thank you Starflower. Our situation sounds very similar. The kids are 11 and 13, and that advice is what I needed to know. Our dog (Oliver) is in a very similar condition. I'm finding this much more difficult than I would have imagined it would be. I always thought he would get to a point where it would be very obvious that it was time, but it's not like that at all. It sounds like you did a wonderful job taking care of her and of helping your kids through the processs. Thanks again:)
My sister is a vet in Maine - I have gained a whole other perspective. I said to her after she started her practice - "Gosh Stacey - having to put animals down must be the worst part of your job!" She said it wasn't as bad as you would think. When an animal is at the point where it is clearly suffering, my sister feels empowered to be able to help the animal ease out of its suffering humanely. She says she feels bad for humans who do not have the option to legally end terminal suffering. She says it's the human pet owners her heart really breaks for as she herself has had so many animals come in and out of her own life. My sister and I have both told our children (ages 2-9) that the animal is going to heaven - and that when we go to heaven we will see them again. We truly believe that - and it seems to help the kids greive knowing that their pet is not suffering anymore and in a better place. I don't know if you have a faith - but if you do - work it in - it has helped us - and even prepared our children for humans in their life passing. Wishing you peace.
We put my sweet dog down in February. I feel for you. It still puts my kids and I into tears when one of us starts to miss her. One of the things I wish I would of done was to clip a little lock of hair to put in our scrapbook. The vet made an imprint of her paw, which is so very nice. We have her ashed to bury at our favorite camping spot this summer, which is also where my grandparents ashes are buried. My daughter has her collar and tags hanging in her room. My son kept his dogs collar from a couple years ago.
My cat seems to miss the old dog the most, she really hates other cats, so we can't get another cat to keep her company, but I can tell she misses her best friend.