About the Author
R. W. Alley is the illustrator for the popular Abbey Press adult series of Elf-help books, as well as an illustrator and writer of children’s books. He lives in Barrington, Rhode Island, with his wife, daughter, and son. See a wide variety of his works at: www.rwalley.com.
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When Your Pet Dies
A Healing Handbook for Kids
By Victoria Ryan, R. W. Alley
Abbey PressCopyright © 2003 Victoria Ryan
All rights reserved.
Losing a Pet
Your pet might be very old or very sick. Maybe she was hit by a car, or ran out of the yard and hasn't come home for a long time.
Perhaps your pet has to be given away because your family is moving, or because your sister is allergic to her. Maybe she has to be taken away because she hurt someone.
Your parent might say, "Your pet needs to go away" or "Your pet is going to die." You feel very, very sad.
What "Dying" Means
"Dying" means your pet's body stops working and cannot be fixed. Dying means you will not be able to play with her again. All pets die — birds and bunnies, fish and ferrets, cats, dogs, and horses.
When it's time for your pet to die, she will act differently. Your dog may move very slowly. Your rabbit's eyes may seem tired and droopy. Your cat may not walk across your sofa or chase the toy mouse. You might tap on your aquarium, but your fish may not swim to you.
You want to make your pet better, but you can't. It is a sad day.
Your parent might say, "Your pet needs to go to the vet for the last time." That means your pet will be dead soon. You need to say good-bye to her.
Hug your pet and tell her you love her. Tell her she was the best pet in the whole world. Ask your parent to take a picture of you with your pet. You might write a good-bye letter to your pet and tie it to a balloon. When your pet dies, let the balloon float up to heaven with her.
When Your Pet Dies Suddenly
Sometimes pets die without anyone knowing. You might walk into your room and find your gerbil lying quietly in his cage. You might tickle your cat, but she won't move. You might call your lizard's name, but he won't look at you. You might touch your bird, but it feels stiff and cold.
You can still say good-bye to your pet. You could wrap your pet's small body in one of your shirts and hug him one last time. You could cover him with his favorite blanket, and hold his paw like you always did.
Tell your pet you will miss him very much and will never forget him. He will hear what you say from heaven.
Heaven is a beautiful place where God takes care of pets and people after they die. Your pet will not have pain in heaven. He will always be happy there.
Ask your parents what they think your pet is doing in heaven. Could your rabbit be hopping from one cloud to the next? Could angels be riding your horse, or playing catch with your dog?
You can't visit heaven, and your pet can't visit you. But he can hear you when you pray. Tell your pet how you feel.
It's Okay to Cry
Although your pet is safe and happy, you are still sad. You miss your pet. You keep loving it, even though it is gone.
You might wonder if it is okay to cry about your pet. It is. Your pet loved you and made you feel special. He was your friend. It's natural to cry.
Your parents might cry. Your sister and brother may cry. It's okay for everybody to cry, no matter how old they are.
Some people don't cry even when they are sad. It's okay not to cry, too.
Tell People About Your Pet
People who knew your pet may want to say good-bye, too. You might make "announcement cards." An announcement card tells the name of your pet and the day it died. You can draw a picture of your pet on the card or put his photograph inside. You can write a letter or a poem about him.
Give the cards to your neighbors and friends. Mail them to your grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Show them to your teachers and classmates.
Your Pet's Funeral
A funeral is a ceremony that honors a pet that has died. People gather and say nice things about your pet. They will say they are sorry he died. They will tell funny stories about him. Hearing how much people enjoyed your pet will help you feel better.
Do you think people will remember how fast your cat could chase a squirrel? Will they remember when your dog jumped in the school bus and made the driver and children laugh?
Excerpted from When Your Pet Dies by Victoria Ryan, R. W. Alley. Copyright © 2003 Victoria Ryan. Excerpted by permission of Abbey Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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