They understand they will have several pets in their life
DAVID and Julie Pearson loved the idea of their sons Sam, 12, and Jonny, 10, growing up with pets. They recently got a St Bernard puppy called Susie. She says: “WE had two Jack Russells, Tonto and Jebby, who passed away pretty close to one another when the boys were just two and four. As they were so young they weren’t really affected by their passing. Even so, we did tell them Tonto had died and he isn’t with us anymore. They didn’t really understand what was going on, they just got on with life, one day the dogs were there, the next they were gone. But they did see us being really sad, I think that’s what affected them most. We buried them in my mum’s backyard and there’s still a plant there to mark the spot.
“While the boys were growing up we chose not to have any more pets, life was busy enough. But recently we decided to get a puppy, a St Bernard called Susie, because we thought the boys were old enough to help look after her. We chose the breed because they’re a big dog with a big bark, which is good for security, but they’re also great with kids and don’t need lots of exercise.
“The boys are really close with Susie already, and it seems to be mutual. Susie really frets if Jonny goes underwater when he’s playing in the pool, like she wants to save him. She’s really attached to Jonny in particular.
“At this stage, we feel it’s too soon to have a chat with the boys about Susie one day dying as she’s still a puppy. But a family member recently lost a pet which gave us the opportunity to have a conversation about the fact that pets don’t live as long as people.
“I told the boys that pets may not be around forever … I think they understand that they will have several pets throughout their life.”