Mary Dell, of Grown and Flown, writes: Long ago, our house became one of the favorite destinations for the kids’ playdates and we have a big, brown family dog to thank. During our 20+ years of marriage, we have actually owned four (!) chocolate Labrador retrievers beginning with our engagement gift puppy to the dog who joined our almost empty nest two years ago.
Of all the dogs, though, Argus, a Christmas present to our then six-year old son, was the rowdiest, matching up in temperament perfectly with the pack of energized little boys who came over to play. As he trained his unruly pal, our son gained a playmate and confidante, alarm clock and buddy; in fact, he gained a brother. The years of puppyhood, with chewed possessions and indoor “accidents,” are distressing. But witnessing your grown child saying goodbye to a now-aged dog as he leaves home for college is infinitely harder.
Acquiring a dog to accompany our children from youth to young adulthood is a true American tradition. And since the estimated life expectancy of a dog is 12.8 years, part of that tradition is often the inevitable and painful phone call parents must make to their college child telling him or her that the end has come for their pup.
Have you had to tell your kids it's time to say goodbye to a family pet? Share your advice in the comments.