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Should we tell our granddaughter when our dog is to be PTS?

(119 Posts)
Luckylegs Sat 05-Jun-21 00:14:20

Sorry for long post but I’m looking for other people’s opinions. We have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who is 9 years old now. We got her really because our granddaughter begged for a dog. Unfortunately Lottie the dog has got this dreadful disease that Cavaliers are prone to and her legs have gradually gone worse and she just drags herself around. It’s pitiable, she can’t stand up to wee or poo, we have to carry her in and out to the garden. She lives to be cuddled, sleep and eat, that’s all. She has no quality of life at all, just exists. She’s not in any pain. Regular trips to the vet, trying different medicines, we’ve done the lot.

Our vet more or less said before last Christmas that he would leave it up to us when to decide to have to PTS but it’s been hard to do that when she’s such a little love. Now, however, she’s getting stuck on her back and has got much worse. We’ve talked about it all as a family openly and our granddaughter knows what’s happening but she just loves the dog to bits.

Another vet visit tonight and he wanted to do the deed there and then. I couldn’t contemplate just telling our GD that Lottie was dead so we’ve arranged an appointment a week on Sat to have it done then. Now, I think it’s a long time for GD to be upset and worried knowing exactly when it’s going to happen. Our D said that it’s better than just announcing that it was done tonight so at least GD can say goodbye and give her lots of cuddles. Anyone any advice or comfort? Btw, my H won’t allow GD to be there when it’s done as it would be too traumatic for her but I think she’ll desperately want to. Anyone done this?

Redhead56 Sat 05-Jun-21 00:44:02

We have been in this situation many times we always had two dogs. The most recent my lovely Jack Russell who I adored. Truthfully I would have your dog gently put to sleep. Give it a day or so and tell your GD that it passed in its sleep naturally. It's for the best I agree with your DH.

Hithere Sat 05-Jun-21 01:05:22

How old is your gd?

Hithere Sat 05-Jun-21 01:08:35

And what do the parents of the child say?

Txquiltz Sat 05-Jun-21 01:24:49

I am sorry your dog has reached the time when life is so hard and painful. Give your gd notice of what is to come. Share your feelings of sadness as well. She can explore her feelings in a loving family environment. Depending on your gd, she may want to say goodbye. Tears are part of the process. She may want to be there at the end. Let her input and your loving care make this a time of learning and saying farewell.

MayBee70 Sat 05-Jun-21 01:48:07

Difficult situation. When I was a child my mum told me our dog had ran away. She later told me she had had him pts and I was very upset by the deception. I can’t remember what age I was. I remember telling a teacher at school first of all that my dog had ran away, then telling her he had died. So from my childhood memory I would say it would be better for your granddaughter to know what was happening and have a chance to say goodbye. We always had little funerals for the pets we had when our children were young. We met a lady out walking recently that had three Cavaliers. All rescue and all with lots of medical problems. As with your dog lovely sweet natured little things. I thanked her for taking them on and she said it was her pleasure to do so. I don’t know what the answer is but children can be surprisingly resilient and mature about such things. One of my grandsons has a photo of the cat he grew up with next to his bed. We were all on holiday together a few years ago when our dog became very ill and we had to call a vet out to put her to sleep. My daughter took the boys out for a few hours till the vet arrived and I told them that it was wonderful that she had spent her last night surrounded by her family sat in front of the log burner being fussed over. No matter how many pets we have it never gets any easier does it. I’m really sorry about your little dog. x

CanadianGran Sat 05-Jun-21 03:30:40

I don't know how old your GD is, but she must understand that the dog is sick and has no quality of life. Gently tell her this week that the dog will be put to sleep and invite her over to say goodbye. Explain the process to her, but yes I agree it may be too traumatic for her to be there. If the dog is cremated, perhaps you can bury the ashes around a rose bush in your garden with your GD to remember her by.

I'm so sorry for this to happen to you all; they are such a loving part of our family.

MawBe Sat 05-Jun-21 05:55:54

My grandchildren (then 7, 6,4) cried loads when first Gracie then Hattie were PTS but I would not have done the goodbye you suggest as it would have been a long drawn out sorrow and you would have to explain euthanasia which is hard for a child to understand. “Grandma is going to get the vet to make Lottie never wake up ? I suppose it depends how old your GC is.
My D (then 13) was with me when our black lab was PTS many many years ago and she coped better than me.
My personal feeling is just do it then say Lottie was so poorly and old (in dog years) that she fell asleep and didn’t wake up. (How often have you perhaps watched Lottie sleeping peacefully and have wished she could just drift off? )
Have you told her about Rainbow Bridge?
It’s an awful thing, I was heartbroken especially losing Gracie and then Hattie so close to DH dying but having a distressed dog suffer. Not easy either way.

sodapop Sat 05-Jun-21 08:35:52

As we don't know the age of your granddaughter it's hard to advise you Luckylegs
For the sake of your dog I would think it's better to have her put to sleep sooner rather than later. I have had to do this twice recently and I know how hard it is.
Children usually cope better with the truth than some story. Explain how ill your little dog is and that she won't get better. Arrange a small ceremony afterwards with your granddaughter maybe plant something in the garden in her memory.
I'm sorry this has happened to your dog but please for her sake don't put it off any longer. thanks

Shropshirelass Sat 05-Jun-21 08:45:23

Children are very resilient and understand and accept more than we realise. Let her spend some time with Lottie, she will see how poorly she is and you can the approach the subject of her going over the rainbow bridge where she will be able to run free and have no pain. Yes, she will be upset, but maybe give her a little bit of Lottie’s fur in a locket or on the back of a framed photo. It really does sound as though you have to let Lottie go, her quality of life is the most important decision. It is a life lesson, dogs do not stay with us for long enough, but while they are with us they are part of our family. Children have to learn what loss is and how to grieve. Please do it now, it is not fair on Lottie. Good luck.

Gingster Sat 05-Jun-21 08:54:14

When our beloved golden retriever was so poorly and couldn’t even get to his water bowl, I made an instant decision. I couldn’t bear to see him in distress and took him to the vets with my good friend and had him pts there and then. The family were upset and cross with me but after a while understood my actions. My children were teenagers so not young. We had kept him too long, and it wasn’t fair for him .

FarNorth Sat 05-Jun-21 08:55:05

I think you should tell your DGD a day or two beforehand. She already knows that Lottie is suffering and can't be made better so you can explain that PTS is the only thing that can be done to take her out of pain.

M0nica Sat 05-Jun-21 09:02:38

My inclination if the children are small is to tell them after the event has happened, not before

timetogo2016 Sat 05-Jun-21 09:14:23

I would not tell her,when she asks where your spaniel is just tell her in heaven.
Thats worked for me ,
I feel for you Luckylegs,A for your having to PTS your dog and you explaining to your gd.

Grandma70s Sat 05-Jun-21 09:20:51

I think children should always be told the truth, in a gentle and age-appropriate way.

Ellianne Sat 05-Jun-21 09:21:47


When our beloved golden retriever was so poorly and couldn’t even get to his water bowl, I made an instant decision. I couldn’t bear to see him in distress and took him to the vets with my good friend and had him pts there and then. The family were upset and cross with me but after a while understood my actions. My children were teenagers so not young. We had kept him too long, and it wasn’t fair for him .

Exactly the same Gingster. Same type of dog as yours, same decision. Our daughter was away staying at a friends and was cross with me. She understands now that when the time has come you just have to do it without too much discussion. I prefer to talk about their amazing lives after the event.
Luckylegs could you leave it to the parents to explain to your GD and go from there when you see her?

ExD Sat 05-Jun-21 09:32:53

Better a day too soon than a day too late, for the dog or so my vet tells me.
As already said, it depends on the age of the child as whether you give them the stark unvarnished truth, or say gently that she was so poorly she went to sleep and didn't wake up.
Its not a downright lie, because that's what happens, but you know your grandchildren, they may be able to cope with 'we've taken her to the vet who helped her to die in her sleep'.
And, if they're young, have a 'funeral', flowers, headstone, the lot - followed by a funeral tea with pop in wine glasses.

Gwyneth Sat 05-Jun-21 09:38:10

From your post it sounds as if your poor dog is really suffering and clearly has no quality of life. Your vet has advised you that your dog should be ‘put to sleep’. I feel that you should now put the needs of your dog first rather than prolong it’s misery.

Luckylegs Sat 05-Jun-21 10:25:00

Thank you for your replies. I thought I’d put in my post that our GD is a very mature 11. She’s known this was coming for a long time now. Her mum said at first we should say that we found Lottie dead when we woke up one school day and we’d taken her to the vets but that just wouldn’t wash. GD would want to know how, where, what, when and expect a photo.

We are agreed that we were right not to just do it last night which I think might have been kinder all round but GD would have been denied her goodbyes. They are here every day, Lottie really perks up when she comes in and cuddles her. We’ve made the appointment for next Saturday, it’s just that I think it’s going to be a long miserable week with GD upset but I might be wrong. She might just have chance to do lots of loving and cuddling and be resigned by then? I suggested to her mum that we don’t tell her until middle of the week. D was thinking about it in the night and thinks we tell her that the vet has decided it has to happen and he’s going to give us an appointment in a couple of days. We’ll have to see how that goes. When I was a child, we just took them to the vets and it was done immediately but things are different now.

Luckylegs Sat 05-Jun-21 10:28:30

No, sorry, the dog isn’t suffering, she’s not in pain, it’s just that she can’t walk! The vet said if we could chop her head off and put it on another dog, it would be fine. I’m so annoyed, these dogs are renowned for these problems but the people we bought her off must have known that and still bred from her four times so that whole line has this or will have. Dreadful people!

Megs36 Sat 05-Jun-21 10:29:24

I agree with Maw . A white lie really that the dear friend died naturally in her sleep. Of course depends on your granddaughter’s age too.

MayBee70 Sat 05-Jun-21 10:34:34

I’ll be thinking of you next Saturday.

Kalu Sat 05-Jun-21 10:47:48

Having been in your situation many times over the years I know how hard this is for you too Luckylegs x
When I knew I had to make the decision it was time to have our boy PTS, I began explaining to both, young, GDs, at that time, Bobby wasn’t too well and very old now. A few days later I explained he was very unwell now and he may feel he wants to go to sleep and not waken up again. When I had Bobby PTS, I told our GDs, Bobby had made his decision which they accepted as we mopped up the tears and said how much we would miss him. I hope all goes well whatever you decide to explain you your GD. 😢

ExD Sat 05-Jun-21 11:27:13

Mature 11 year Old.
You know her, and it sounds as though you consider her mature enough to cope with the truth.
So follow your instinct and let her have her goodbyes. Will you have and ashes (or a body) to bring home for a burial - I have found that usually helps children and she can put flowers on a special place and have a little cry.
Bless you all.

MawBe Sat 05-Jun-21 11:41:20

I think you are perfectly entitled to put the onus on the vet as the medical professional Luckylegs . Children will believe what a doctor says and if there is any anger after the dog has gone, it is better if it not directed at you for having taken the decision.
Sadly vets usually put the ball in our court. When I had to make the decision for Hattie I asked my vet not what I should do, but in all honesty what she would do because even if it is the case that sometimes something can be done (like with Noel Fitzpatrick’s Border Terrier) I do not believe it necessarily should be done if you see what I mean.
Sentimental, but then when it comes to my dogs I am that person.
The story of the Rainbow Bridge tells of a lush green meadow just "this side of Heaven" (i.e. before one enters into it). Rainbow Bridge is the name of both the meadow and what links it to Heaven

According to the story, when a pet dies, it goes to the meadow, restored to perfect health and free of any injuries. The pet runs and plays all day with the others; there is always fresh food and water, and the sun is always shining. However, it is said that while the pet is at peace and happy, they also miss their owner whom they left behind on Earth.

When their owner dies, they too arrive at the meadow, and that is when the pet stops playing, turns, sniffs at the air and looks into the distance where they see their beloved owner. Excited, they run as fast as they can, until owner and pet are once more in union. The pet licks its owners in joy while the human looks into the soft eyes of their pet—who might have been absent on Earth, but never absent in their heart. Then side by side, they cross the Rainbow Bridge together into Heaven, never again to be separated.