New Tripawds members with children in the family often wonder how to explain dog amputation to kids. They are often unsure how kids cope with pet amputation. And they worry about breaking the bad news. Or how kids react when their best furry friend loses a leg. After all, even many adults have a hard time coping.
But the truth is that kids and Tripawds handle pet amputation pretty well. It all depends on how we explain dog amputation to kids. Sandra, mom to Tripawd Chance (pictured above) says:
My grandnephew that I was concerned about has been wonderful with Chance! Giving him kisses, so gentle with him. He was a little upset when I wouldn’t let him stay in the kennel with Chance!
Most recently, Oliver’s mama echoed the same sentiments in Oliver’s Journey:
My ten year old loves her Ollie and her Ollie loves her.
How to Explain Dog and Cat Amputation to Kids
Young children and animals are more resilient than adults imagine. Worried how your family’s kids will handle the news that their beloved canine or feline friend needs or had an amputation? This story from Tripawd Griffn’s mom Stacy will put you at ease. Her niece and nephew prove that little ones can bounce back as quickly as the pets. But it all starts with adults around them who set a pawsitive tone. Stacy shared the following heartwarming story about how she explained pet amputation to kids in her family. She writes:
How Griffin’s Mom Explained Limb Loss to Young Children
“I want to tell a story about how the Tripawds community has positively impacted my life. I am the second of four daughters and my oldest and youngest sisters each have two daughters. My youngest sister’s girls, ages 4 and 10, have known about Griffin’s amputation and recovery from the beginning, and they follow his progress through the Griffin’s Journey blog.
But my oldest sister delayed telling her girls, ages 9 and 13, about Griffin fearing that it would upset them too much. The 9 year old has some issues with anxiety and both girls have struggled with adapting to life during the pandemic which has prevented them from engaging in the many activities (sports, volunteering, Girl Scouts, school) that they love, so my sister was hesitant to give them the news about Griffin which she knew would be upsetting.
As we are now more than 2 months post-surgery for Griffin, I wasn’t sure how much longer my sister planned to wait. That set of nieces lives 6 hours away and the others are 4 hours away. So avoiding the topic is easier than if we lived close.
Seeing a Pet Thrive is Pawsitively Inspawrational for Everyone!
She replied to the email I sent saying that she felt things were still too unsettled for the girls and perhaps in a month’s time. This was my reply to her:
You are their mom and know them best, so I’m not arguing that you should tell them. I just want to share that I don’t think the news about Griffin is sad. It was definitely scary for a while, but he is doing really well now, so I don’t want the narrative to be one that is framed as upsetting news, although clearly it will come as a shock to them. I think they would really enjoy reading the updates about him that I post on the blog and seeing him thrive would be something positive.
Knowing the girls, they would start researching stories about other animals that underwent amputation and learning about how some of them use prosthetics or wheelchairs. I’m not trying to convince you to tell them, just that when you finally do, to keep in mind that his story is a positive one of overcoming odds and living life to the fullest each day.
Breaking the News on a Zoom Call
This was her response:
Honestly, I wasn’t thinking of it as positively as you put it, but you have a point. I was thinking more about it as he had cancer, this is the treatment, and the average life expectancy is 1-2 years, which is not so positive. Since you frame it so well as more optimistic, why don’t you tell them over a Zoom meeting? Then you can answer any questions they have, and they could see how well he’s doing. If you have time, this weekend is free.
When I read my sister’s email, I immediately thought about how her mindset of being focused on the negative was the one that I had prior to finding Tripawds and how through my engagement with this awesome community, I was able to shift her perspective to the positive lens through which I view Griffin’s life.
They Asked Questions, and Moved On
And so today, my nieces and I video chatted and after hearing their many bits of news, I gave them the update on Griffin. I started by showing them Griffin laying across the room (far enough that you couldn’t see his missing leg) so they knew he was fine. I told them about his tumor and surgery, and then showed them photos and videos to document his progress from the beginning until now.
They took the news very matter-of-factly, asked some questions, and then moved on.
At the end of our call, the younger one asked if there was anything else that could have been done to help Griffin besides amputation, and after I explained that it was the best option to make sure he wasn’t in any pain, she said:
“Griffin is really lucky to have you as his mom because you take good care of him and do whatever it takes to keep him happy and healthy. I don’t think Griffin really cares about having only 3 legs because it doesn’t stop him from doing anything, right?”
Out of the mouths of babes.”
Many thanks to Stacy for sharing this helpful experience with the community.
Do You Have a Kids and Tripawds Story?
Have you needed to explain dog and cat amputation to kids in your family? Comment below, we would love to learn from your experiences with your Tripawd hero.