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Pet tips
March 24, 2014, 05:00 AM By Scott Delucchi

RIP, Donut. Donut was a hamster, my daughter’s kindergarten classroom pet. My wife was volunteering one early morning last week and thought Donut looked awfully still. She touched her. Nothing. She must have passed in the evening. It became one of those times for the teacher to throw out the lesson plan and teach in the moment. She sat the children down to tell them the news. There was shock, sniffles, tears and sad faces. She read the children a book about the loss of a pet, then let children talk about their own experiences losing pets. Then, they all gathered around Donut’s enclosure; children were asked to think of a memory of their friend, Donut. They added decorations to the outside of a small box, which became Donut’s casket. The school’s handyman dug a grave site under a tree just outside the kindergarten classroom and the teacher invited the parish priest of my daughter’s Catholic school to lead a prayer service for Donut. Donut was then put in his final resting place and the children were solemn and respectful during this service. This certainly seemed like a healthy way to help the children deal with this sad experience; they will undoubtedly keep this sad yet beautiful teachable moment with them. Of course, there are many ways to help children deal with loss. Some parents opt for what seems to be the easy approach: they tell their kids the pet ran away or that they gave it to someone else. Making up a story may not be ideal; when the truth is discovered, it can make kids wonder about other things their parents have told them. For certain, how parents talk to their kids about the loss of a companion animal can prepare them for future conversations about the losses of loved ones and other difficult subjects. Talking about loss isn’t easy, but inevitable once you bring a pet into your home.

Scott oversees PHS/SPCA’s Adoption, Behavior and Training, Education, Outreach, Field Services, Cruelty Investigation, Volunteer and Media/PR program areas and staff from the new Tom and Annette Lantos Center for Compassion.



Tags: children, about, donut, their, parents,

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