Julie’s Blog: Nobody Tells You About This Part

This is our Toby. He is a very handsome German shepherd. He is also a bit dopey, but lovable. He is the first dog I’ve ever had. My mom and I lived in rentals when I was growing up, so I never was able to have a pet, except for a guinea pig and fish.

After my husband Scott and I had been dating about 6 months, he brought Toby home. So, technically, I say he is Scott’s dog because I had no say in the matter, but of course that is just for joking purposes. He is mine, too. He was the cutest puppy. He peed on me in the car on the drive to his new home. He has seen us get married, has known four cat friends in the house with him over the years, lived in three different houses, and welcomed two human babies into his pack. I always feel safe with Toby guarding my little family. He’s a sweet soul, but he sure sounds mean when you ring the doorbell!

He was born on Christmas Eve 2005. So, he’s old for a big dog. 12 years, four months. His spirit is still all there, but his body is not cooperating with him anymore. He’s losing feeling in his back end, which has made it harder for him to get around. He can’t do stairs anymore. He can’t control all of his doggie business anymore, if you know what I mean. His tail is stuck low. Getting up and down on the floor is a chore. He pants a lot. We give him a pain pill daily. Nobody tells you about this part. About having an old dog. It’s hard. Really hard.

Scott and I haven’t had to put down a pet since 2008, before we had kids. We’ve been avoiding the conversation until the last few months, when we knew we couldn’t avoid the topic anymore. Neither one of us is ready to do it yet, but we know it will very likely be before Toby’s next birthday. I welcome any advice on how to deal with this with kids. Our son is eight and daughter five, almost six. I feel like they should be able to say goodbye to him, so do we tell them before it’s going to happen? Or do we just tell them that night after? I swing back and forth on this. If you’ve dealt with this situation, what did you do? Send me a note if you’d like to share: Julie@Magic98.com.

My kids are pretty smart cookies, and even though we haven’t talked to them about this directly, I think they sense it. My daughter was sitting on my lap the other night and asked me how old Toby was in “dog years.” I said “more than 100 I guess.” She said sweetly and sadly, “I’m going to miss Toby.”

Me too, kiddo. Me, too.