How to tell children their dog has died. That’s the thing that most people have said to us, how did you tell them? Well. It’s kind of a long story but I’ll try to be relatively brief. We discovered on Christmas day, that Bramble had some lumps on her body. We went through a succession of visits to the vet and three types of antibiotics, followed by a biopsy, to find that she had cancer. A week before she died, we thought we’d be taking her to the vets to be put to sleep.
So actually, that was the moment for us, telling the boys that we’d taken the decision to put her to sleep. It was awful. We picked them up from school, brought them home, sat together and explained it. That we love Bramble, that we don’t want her to be in any pain. That we knew she wouldn’t get any better. And that we felt it would be the right thing to do at some point in the future. The four of us sat and cried. We sobbed. We cuddled Bramble who was loving us all laying on the floor cuddling her. 24 hours later, a different vet was suggesting another course of palliative treatment, which required one more test – which could be done on the biopsy they’d already taken. We said yes, on the understanding that we’d hear within 10 days as to what the next treatment would be.
That was the Saturday. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday morning, she was absolutely fine. Wednesday evening she insisted on plonking her bottom in the middle of our monopoly game. Thursday morning, I went to work, leaving her sat on the rug in bathroom, refusing to move even for a biscuit. Thursday evening, I got home to find she was laid in our bedroom on the floor, quietly, behind our bed. She wanted to be alone. But she wagged her tail when I walked in. It was lovely. We had a great chat. And I laid in the tiny space with her, and cuddled up. I noticed her breathing was different. We couldn’t get her to come downstairs at all and I didn’t want to leave her there.
So Lovely Bloke picked her up and carried her downstairs for me. I took her outside. She didn’t exactly run after the ball, but she did go for it and bring it back to me. She sat outside on the step. She sat at our feet in the lounge whilst we watched tv. I told the boys at bedtime, to kiss her, cuddle her and tell her they loved her as I was worried that she was starting to feel poorly, that we might not have much longer with her. They snuggled and cuddled her and went to bed.
I laid in bed a couple of hours later, said to Lovely Bloke that I felt she should be upstairs with us. Or should I lay on the sofa next to her? Lovely Bloke suggests I see if she’ll come upstairs. I come down and she’s awake. She’s laid out on the floor, lifts her head and looks at me. She looked tired. I can’t quite remember what I said, but it was something about coming upstairs. She didn’t come with me. So I said I loved her, turned off the light and went to bed.
The next morning, it was me who came down the stairs to check on her. There’d was no noise in the night. No whimpering. There was no urine – she’d not been frightened. She just laid down and went to sleep. And didn’t wake. Bundled up in her favourite Thomas the Tank Engine blanket, with a tennis ball and her froggy teddy, she went into the boot of the car. We woke the boys. We told them she’d gone to sleep and not woken up. There was sobbing all round. Lovely Bloke couldn’t believe she’d gone so quickly. I could. I felt it would happen that night. I was sad that I’d not laid with her. It was a confusing morning. An early start. Lovely Bloke and Father In Law took her to the pet crematorium. I took the boys to school. I picked up her ashes the following Monday. They are sat in a cupboard. We’re not sure what to do with them.
We loved our dog. All of us, in different ways. Our dog was supposed to be a gun dog for my Father In Law. Untrainable, but utterly lovely, patient with children. Stubborn beyond all belief. My Nephew’s first friend. He will be heartbroken, as he processes her going to heaven. It’s still strange now, to come in the back lounge and not look to see if she wants to go outside. I don’t see us having another dog for many years to be honest. It’s too much to bear. For all of us. Maybe we will. I don’t know. All I know at the moment, is that our dog – Bramble – who could be asleep and snore with her eyes open, has died. And that we’re lost without her. x