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3 Amazing Children’s Books That Help With Pet Loss

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On the first day of  Grade Two, I ran home, excited to tell my pet rat, Shorty, about all the new friends I had made. Usually Shorty was waiting on at the door to her cage, eager to greet me and share some after school snacks. But that day Shorty wasn’t waiting for me.

I opened the door, and found her laying in her bed. She wasn’t breathing. My young mind understood she was gone, but I did not have the words to process this. Even now, 30 years later, it is hard to write about.

The loss of a pet is undoubtedly one of the hardest things for a child to experience. Children often develop strong bonds with their pet, to them it might be more than a goldfish or a hamster. They may regard their pet as a friend, or someone to share secrets with. The loss of such a special friend can be devastating and hard to comprehend. Other children seem to recover fairly easily from the loss of a pet, they accept it’s death and move on. Sometimes parents worry that the child has not dealt with their feelings.

In my years as a classroom teacher, I have had many students come to school upset about the loss of a special pet. For situations like those, I keep a box of books about losing a pet. The books let students know they aren’t alone in their grief, that other people have experienced loss as well. The books also help give the children a framework for dealing with their grief. Here are some of the books I have found to be the most helpful.

Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant

Popular with both children and adults, this book is filled with colorful pictures and text imagining what heaven would be like for a dog. It’s a little fanciful, with God standing at a large machine pumping out biscuits in fun shapes for dogs. There is also a section where the dogs who have died come back to earth for a visit. For some that is a comforting thought, for others, it may cause confusion. Either way, parents know best.

Saying Goodbye to Lulu by Corinne Demas

A little girl does everything with her best friend and dog, Lulu. They explore the neighborhood, play and every night cuddle up with a good book before bedtime. Lulu grows older and begins to slow down. The little girl must face the difficult reality of losing her friend. Over time she realizes that Lulu will be carried forever in her heart.

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst

This book is my personal favorite. The book is narrated by a young boy, whose cat, Barney has just died. He begins to prepare for Barney’s funeral by preparing a list of ten good things about his cat.

The story goes through the first nine things the boy can think of. But he becomes upset when he can’t think of the tenth. At the funeral, the boy understands that the tenth good thing about Barney. Barney is in the ground, helping grow flowers. Which, the boy understands is a pretty nice job for a cat.

Parents need to take their cues from the child’s behavior, and act in the way that is best for the child, and every child is different. These books each have a slightly different focus, and will help open a discussion with your child about the loss of a special pet.


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