Books to Read :: Helping Children Deal With the Loss of a Pet

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Dog

Let me tell you about Lucky. 

Lucky is a 95 pound yellow lab. She is turning thirteen years old this year. She is my best friend.

Lucky was the first living thing my husband and I brought into our life to care for, together. We were both raised with dogs and when I met my husband, he had three of his own. When I married, I did not just add a husband to my life, but three elderly dogs.

It was not long before one of those dogs got very sick and had to be put to sleep. After a month or so with two old dogs, we started looking around for a third, younger dog. Our vet said this would help the other two dogs to remain active and, bonus, they would help guide and train the younger dog.

Enter Lucky. Lucky came from PETSinc and from the moment my husband saw her (he likes to say he spotted her first), we knew she was our dog. 

Throughout the years, we’ve taken her to the beach, dog parks, walks in the neighborhood (few and far between with those – as a young lab she would actually be the one walking us). She slept in our bed until she couldn’t anymore – now she sleeps on the floor next to our bed. She is always around.

Five years ago, when I was pregnant, people would say things to me like, “Lucky is going to be forgotten when that little one comes around,” or “your dogs aren’t going to be so important now.” When our daughter was born, that simply was not true. Our dogs are still important to us. Our family grew…we did not forget about the four legged members, we just added to the pack.

Like us, our daughter is growing up around dogs. Over the course of Lucky’s life, the two older dogs have left us, but we have gained two more dogs (Mozzy and Penny). The three are best friends to each other and to us. Our daughter loves all of the dogs, but she knows that my husband and I have a favorite. 

Day by day, we can tell that Lucky is getting older. Her joints are sore. She sometimes has a hard time walking. There were days my husband and I thought it was time to make the call. But, we aren’t ready yet and because sometimes we still see that glimpse of the kind puppy we once knew, we know she isn’t ready yet either.

When the time does come, however, I have some books packed away to share with my daughter. If you have recently lost a pet or know a loss is ahead of you, these books may be helpful to share with the little (and big) people in your life. 

What books would you add to the list?

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Valerie Byrd Fort was born in Florida, but when she was four years old, her family moved to the midlands and never looked back. She is mom to Katy (human) and to Lucky, Mozzy, and Penny (rescue dogs). She is married to Marty Fort, owner of the Lexington School of Music, Columbia Arts Academy, and Irmo Music Academy. She is an Instructor for the School of Library & Information Science at the University of South Carolina, where she teaches Children’s Literature to future classroom teachers and librarians. She is also Coordinator for Cocky's Reading Express, the University of South Carolina's literacy outreach program. Valerie is passionate about books, literacy, libraries, and reading aloud with children of ALL ages. She writes about books and other literacy related topics on her blog, Library Goddess. In her free time, Valerie enjoys reading, Barre3, going to Target and endless scrolling of social media  

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