When a pet dies, it can be sad, scary and confusing.
Both Laura and Phil remember when their dogs passed away. They talked with Kids' Corner about how they felt at the time, and they fondly remembered some of the fun things they did with their special friends.
We carry the special memories we
have of our dogs throughout our lives.
Laura was 9-years-old when her 5-year-old Standard Poodle died.
"Max was the neatest dog," Laura said. "He went on all our family trips with us, even to the Grand Canyon."
Laura and her 13-year-old brother played an active role in taking care of Max. They fed him regularly, made sure he always had fresh water and went to the veterinarian's office for all of Max's check-ups so they could learn more about their dog and how to care for him.
"My brother and I took turns taking him for walks each day, and we set a schedule we followed," she said.
One day, while Laura was at the stables, and Max was at the car with Laura's mom, Max picked up something's scent and bolted out and away from the car.
"We took off to find him and found him dead in the road," Laura recalled. "We wrapped him in a horse blanket and took him home. I was in shock. It didn't really hit me that he was dead until later."
"When it finally hit me was when it was my next turn to walk Max and I realized he wasn't there to walk. That was really sad," she said.
Max was the family's only dog.
"Everyone kept telling us to get another dog right away, but we didn't want to. We didn't want to replace Max," she said. "We got our next dog, a cream-colored Standard Poodle, a couple years later."
Often pet owners such as Laura and her family think of something to do in special memory of their dog's life. Dog owners often make donations to charitable organizations such as the AKC Canine Health Foundation, plant a tree, create a photo album or memory box, write stories or memories about their dog or find other meaningful ways to remember the dog's special place in their family.
"We found a really nice place out in the woods where we used to walk Max and buckled his collar on a circle of protective fencing around a huge Live Oak tree," Laura said.
Time and weather have faded the once-red nylon collar with metal tags, but the collar remains at the same Live Oak, and Laura and her mom see it when they walk the family's current dog.
"When I see that collar, it reminds me of having my first real dog," Laura added. "It definitely brings back good memories because Max was a great dog."
Ten-year-old Phil could relate to the sadness Laura felt when she lost Max.
Dogs can be our best friends,
and we can love them deeply.
Phil lost his Cocker Spaniel, Brittany, to cancer when Brittany was 7-years-old.
"Brittany was the first dog I remembered and the first dog I loved," Phil said. "She had endless energy. We would go out in the yard and play so much - she was wonderful at fetch and loved tennis balls. She wasn't the smartest dog in the world, but she was fat and silly and always looking for trouble."
"She was always very excited to see me when I'd come home from school," Phil recalled. "She'd jump up and down like she hadn't seen me in years, even though I'd only been gone for the school day."
But once Brittany was diagnosed with cancer, the disease spread quickly.
She was really ill, Phil recalled, and his family began discussing euthanasia, or "putting down" Brittany.
"I was very upset because I knew she wasn't going to be part of our family," Phil said. "I didn't want to put her down. I didn't understand that, but eventually my mom and our veterinarian decided it needed to be done."
"I didn't want anything to do with it. I didn't eat. I threw fits, and I didn't want to go to school," Phil added. "But my mom made me go to school and continue on."
If you are dealing with the death of a pet, you may want to talk to a parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, teacher, school counselor or friend about your feelings. This is not an easy time, and you might feel lots of different things at the same time. Turn to the people in your life who may understand what your pet meant to you and could comfort you and help you think of things to do to remember your pet in a special way.