Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

Lessons From the Family Dog


Our beautiful blonde lab of eight years passed away a week ago. Her death really hit our family hard; she was such a delight and a daily part of our lives. Even as I write this tears are flowing. Although her loss has been devastating, it made me think of what a blessing she has been to our family. She taught our children so much. Not only did they learn the responsibility that comes along with having a pet, but even more, valuable qualities of character.

Security: My youngest child was always leery of staying home alone, but just knowing that Shiloh was in the house gave her a sense of security. She could venture out in the neighborhood on walks and feel like she was protected. Although, I have heard that labs are so gentle that they would tell an intruder where the silverware was! My youngest tearfully told me this week, “I was going to spend my whole summer playing with Shiloh.”

Nurturing: We got our dog as a pup, so my kids felt like we had a brand new baby in our home, and in a sense we did. Often my kids would cuddle up next to our dog in her bed. I have seen them cover her up with a blanket and give her the bunny we called her “baby.” After every meal, Shiloh would look for her baby, grab it in her mouth,  and bring it to lay at our feet. I think that was her way of mothering. I too, mothered her by giving her an occasional doggie massage from head to toe. The kids would dress her up. In the winter Shiloh would be sporting her pretty pink coat or a fashionable scarf. Always styling.

Communication: Memories of our dog have certainly come flooding back these past few days. We sit and talk about all of the fun we have had with her, places we have been and the joy she brought to our family. Even my husband is talking about his “feelings” and as we grieve together, it makes our family unit stronger.

Love and empathy: When Shiloh lay down on her bed and breathed her last, we all reacted with tears and heart break and a big group hug. But, as if she were human, none of us wanted to see her suffer, and longed for her to be at peace. It was a good opportunity to talk of our own immortality and our beliefs on death and life after. We still haven’t convinced dad to get another dog. We want one but are all too afraid that none can ever replace her.

As pointed out by a dear co-worker, the name Shiloh means “His gift” or “peace.” How appropriate! She certainly has given our children never-ending gifts that will last a lifetime.

– Debbie

Photo courtesy of Ozone9999, Duke and Sarge.

3 thoughts on “Lessons From the Family Dog

  1. I am so sorry about your family’s loss. Lots of people think it’s odd to mourn a family pet, but our pets are part of our families, just as you described yours. We lost our dog of almost 12 years in December–our little one to care for long before our children were born and still here while the kids have been growing and growing. We grieved and talked and remembered for a full month, and then went to the shelter and got a rescue dog. She’s our family now! I wish you and your family the best of luck as you work through your own process.

    • Thank you Tiffiny for the kind words. Your processing sounds very much like ours. We talk about her often and it has most assuredly brought our family closer together. 🙂

  2. What beautiful writing and a touching memorial to Siloh. Everything, even a the painful loss of a furry family member has a purpose in our lives. Shloh brought your family together during her life and continues to do so with her passing. She’d be glad to know that. : )