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Old 04-26-2013, 11:01 AM
 
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Awaiting further tests on my dog to see if she has anal cancer. In the meantime, I've been thinking ahead about how we might handle her crossing the bridge.

I will definitely be there but am not sure about the kids (ages 6 & 8). Anyone have been-there-done-that experience with this?

(as it's not imminent, I haven't discussed with the kids yet)
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Old 04-26-2013, 01:26 PM
 
Location: Mostly in my head
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Not at that age. Even my son at 25 wasn't ready to be there. Maybe a teenager. When the kids were younger, I had them say goodbye at home.
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Old 04-26-2013, 10:58 PM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
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This isn't as easy to answer as it might seem.
I survived several cats while growing up. The first passed when I was 8, the last shortly after I turned 19. Except for the one who died in quarantine from CRF I was always shown the body of the deceased feline before it was buried. (Shhhh! Don't tell!) But I was never present for their being put down.
It should go without saying that I'd rather still have Weasie with me today, but cancer had other ideas and took her from this existence last year. Forever will I be grateful for the euthanasia option - and for having been there to bid farewell as her unending pain yielded to chemical bliss. Among the children in my neighborhood the girl upstairs (almost five years old at the time) was easily the most attached to Weasie. Her mother and I had a few conversations about how to broach the subject. We decided it would be best to subtly draw attention to Weasie's having become so skinny, and to keep it simple by explaining that she'd grown very old and was now sick - without "going there" in terms of her dying. So that's what we did. Once Weasie had passed, it was far easier for the child to grasp. She and her mom spent some time re-reading "When A Pet Dies" by "Mr Rogers" after she was informed Weeze was gone. For my part I let her know that on a clear night she could select any star in the sky and - keeping her choice secret - make it Weasie's star. That worked beyond my expectations; for months afterwards I'd sometimes be excitedly told she'd seen Weasie's star the night before. Now and then I'm still asked whether I miss Weasie. Naturally I say I do, and that I always will. She echoes the sentiment and that's that.
Getting back to the OP's question: I can't honestly say at this stage of life whether or not I would've benefited from being on hand when my feline friends from childhood and adolescence breathed their last. Clearly the answer would be "no" if they were put through the one-step euthanasia process - poisoning without sedative - because that can be excruciating to the animal. It's bad enough that the two-step alternative (sounds like I'm talking about dancing, lol) is even termed "humane euthanasia." But it could well have been comforting to see with my own eyes a cherished and suffering cat let go of its afflictions. Observing Weasie depart this life the way she did was a tremendous help.
"It depends on the person." Some very young children can be shockingly matter-of-fact and well adjusted when faced with this sort of situation. They might be better off going along for the last trip to the vet (if having a home visit for the procedure isn't in the cards.) I'd couch the proposition in terms easily understood: "The dog is not going to get better, ever, and her doctor is going to help her not hurt any more. When s/he does this would you like to be petting/holding/kissing the dog? Would you like to ride along to the clinic and say goodbye in the waiting room? Or would you rather stay home?" Let them know that the decision is entirely theirs to make and any of the choices is OK. And - go ahead and take them outside on a clear night to pick a star.
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Old 04-27-2013, 11:05 AM
 
Location: zone 5
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My daughter was 11 the first time we had to have a dog put to sleep. I felt she was too young to go, but she wanted to very strongly and her father supported her, so I reluctantly gave in. She did OK with it. Since you haven't talked to them about it yet, you don't know that they will ask to be present. 6 and 8 seems young to me, but every child and every family is different. If you were attending a funeral or wake, would you bring them? I would talk to them about what is going to have to happen, and feel out their thoughts and feelings about it. In the end, no one else can really say what is the best thing to do.
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Old 04-28-2013, 08:11 PM
 
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We allowed our children, then 10 & 11, to be present while Mike was PTS. At first, ds said he didn't want to go, he just wanted to stay in the waiting room. but, I heard him crying in the waiting room, and realized he was frightened. We called him in to be with us, and say goodbye to Mike as a family. I realize I overrode Ds choice to stay out while the final injection was being administered, but, I felt he needed to see Mike went peacefully. Death is kept too much of a mystery, its something that happens to us all, its not something to be shrouded in mystery. I think DS felt better to see Mike truly did go peacefully, with a little smile, surrounded by those he loved.

If children are excluded, they will paint vivid, inaccurate scenarios in their minds. The truth is always easier to cope with than a child's imagination. I felt it gave us all closure....otherwise, who knows what a child might imagine? that perhaps kitty did not go peacefully, or suffered, or was taken away to be tortured, who knows...this way he saw for himself and was able to come to terms with it.

another thought....if you think a child...or anyone is either too young, or otherwise not able to handle being there, perhaps someone could record it to view later? That way, they could see for themselves, without having to be there....
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Old 04-29-2013, 12:29 PM
 
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Thank you all for your replies.

Since my original post, I did pose the question to my 8 y.o. son. He said NO. That didn't surprise me as he's the sensitive/sentimental one.

My 6 y.o. daughter is tougher emotionally so I think she would be fine either way. In that case, I will choose to exclude her. I will be enough of a mess myself so it's probably best they not see me during those particular moments.
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Old 08-25-2013, 08:47 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
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My wife and I were wondering about this. We have a 15-yr old dog who is not doing well and know that day is coming sooner rather than later. We have an 8-yr old son who is very attached to him. I had the fortune of having an Army Vet in the staff group I teach. I asked him his thoughts on having a child as young as 8-yrs old present. In his professional opinion, he was not opposed to it and has had children that age when he has put a family pet down.

Ultimately, as parents we need to determine whether or not they are mature enough to handle it. We brought the subject up with him (not fun as he became upset) and he said no. If he doesn't change his mind, my wife and I won't try and change it. It's a tough enough situation to deal with already and I have no desire to scare the heck out of my son, making it worse.
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Old 09-03-2013, 03:32 PM
 
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You have to ask each indviduall child, first I'd say make sure they know exactly what will happen. No " he is going to a farm to rest for a bit" , explain straight away what will happen, then once the child understands that ask if he/she wants to be present.
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Old 09-10-2013, 05:41 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
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Here is my experience from today. Our son is 8 years old. In many aspects, he's a typical 8-yr old but we do think he is very bright and mature for his age.

We discussed this with him a few weeks ago when we knew the time was approaching to put Cannon down. We did ask him if this was something he wanted to be present for and he said yes. I certainly didn't consider it a final decision- we just wanted to plant the seed. In the last 72 hours, knowing we were preparing for the final days of Cannon's life, we discussed it in more detail. My wife showed him a video a veterinarian posted that explained the procedure and showed an in home euthanasia. I think that was good to let him know what would happen and how it would happen. He also saw that it was peaceful.

Prior to going in today, my wife and I decided which one of would leave with him in the event he changed his mind at the last second. We didn't want to deal with trying to figure the answer to the dilemma if it came up.

Our son was visibly upset but also very brave. He had some incredibly heart warming things to say to Cannon shortly before Cannon took his last breath. All in all, I am glad we provided him the opportunity to have closure.

In the end, only a parent can decide what is best for their child. Prior preparation, in my opinion, is certainly a must. If he had even hinted at being afraid or not wanting to be in the room, I wouldn't have hesitated to bring him outside.
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Old 09-11-2013, 01:59 PM
 
Location: Raleigh, NC
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This is an extremely personal decision so I can only offer how I would handle it.

I would say "NO!". All I know is that I lost my dog (literally) and he was found deceased. I was not there to witness the death, but not a day goes by that I don't think about him and have a pain in my heart, and that was 7 months ago. As an adult I struggle with it daily. I couldn't imagine the weight put upon the shoulders of a child who doesn't even understand how and why things happen.
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