In other news, our puppy is not dead.

by Janelle Hanchett


He isn’t exactly “alive,” but he’s not dead. Okay fine. He’s alive. But barely.

Let me put it this way: I nearly cried in joy when he stood up by himself this morning. He’s that sick and weak, and he was in that bad of shape.  He still can’t walk. He tries, but he collapses. The whole thing is excruciating.

But if he continues on this path, it appears the little guy will recover. Though I’m not getting too excited. He could get bad again. But either way, thank you, friends, for your kind words and well wishes. I’m such a damn hippie I believe that positive energy comin’ our way makes a difference.

Don’t blame me. My parents made me listen to the Dead.

And thank you to my friend, Leslie, who is a vet, and is AMAZING. I won’t publish her full name in case she’s into the whole privacy thing, but I will say that SHE is what I think doctors were always meant to be: strong, thoughtful, really effing smart, straight-forward, caring, and real. With a genuine regard for her patient, who, in this case, was Pete, a little boy’s 9-week-old puppy.

Anyhoo, this whole near-puppy-death thing got me thinking about a few things. They are as follows:

–          Puppy diarrhea is more disgusting than human diarrhea. Although, I’ve never really had human diarrhea unexpectedly launched at my shirt (or expectedly for that matter), so I may revise that statement sometime in the future, when, evidently, I’m having a particularly shitty day. (That wasn’t even funny. That was so clichéd and predictable it was slightly nauseating. But I’m leaving it. Cause that’s how I roll.)

–          I am, apparently, a nicer person than originally thought. I just spent 4 days caring for a dog on its last legs (what IS IT with me tonight?), with all its accompanying glory (see #1), washing, force feeding, injecting (I can stick a needle in a dog!), medicating, comforting, warming, washing bedclothes, cleaning crates, starting again 45 minutes later…day and night…and it wasn’t even that bad. In fact, if that damn mutt lives I believe I’ll have a very deep bond with the motherfucker, because we went through something massive together, and he showed me I’m capable of a bit of altruism.

But mainly this ordeal got me thinking about death and how it should (or should not be) explained to children. Now you all know by now (or you should) that I parent “from my gut” – translation: I do the thing that seems right at the moment and hope it works. If it doesn’t work, I try not to do it again. There. There’s my vast, deep parenting philosophy. (If I had to market that approach, I wonder what I’d call it… “Attachment parenting for Dumbasses”? “Baby Un-wise?” “The idiot’s guide to mediocre parenting?”

In other words, I haven’t a damn clue.

Sooooo, when it comes to big things like “do we explain death to children” or, in this particular case “do we tell the kids the puppy might kick the bucket?” I do what makes sense to me intuitively then write about it in my blog if it fails. I know, it’s all very impressive.

And here’s what I’m thinking currently, on that particular topic: As troublesome as I find this particular fact, Death is a part of life. Death is a part of my children’s lives. Death does not scare children. It only scares adults. (Violence, on the other hand, scares children. But that isn’t the same as death.) Therefore, explaining that things die does not carry with it the heavy, excruciating existential questions that I experience, as an adult, thinking of my own mortality,  when faced with the concept of death (oh, you know, that whole “oh shit. What happens AFTER?” question). In other words, why not tell them the truth and let them process it as they will, as children, trusting and respecting them, and their ability to “deal” with truth?

For example, my 5-year-old thinks he has death all figured out: “when people die, their bodies go away, but their hearts stay here.”

Alright. Sweet.

And I know it will get more complicated for him, in time. And when it does, he’ll have the maturity to deal with the more complicated version.

Or perhaps it won’t get more complicated for him, and he’ll just always know that “hearts stay here.”

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Anyway, I also don’t shelter my kids when it comes to where their fried chicken comes from, or where babies come from. Of course, it’s a little tough to convince a kid their chicken just materialized on the Safeway shelf when his grandparents run a slaughterhouse, but that’s another topic.

This is one of the reasons I let my kids watch Georgia’s home birth. Because it isn’t scary. It’s birth. It’s only scary for adults. To this day they haven’t said a single word about it one way or another, other than “mama was LOUD.”

And again, I ain’t preachin’. I have no idea what I’m doing. These are just thoughts. I could be very, very wrong.

And if I am, you’ll hear about it soon enough, in another blog post. Smile.

let's cheer ourselves up by looking at a picture of my goofy husband and the not-dead puppy


  • eringirl

    that picture is precious.

    you are a hero. i couldn’t care for that little puppy without a lot of tears.

    i love your approach to parenting =)

  • Kimberly

    Thinking of you, buttercup. xoxo

  • Dawnie

    Yeah!! Glad the little guy is faring better. Have similar issues at home now… 6 y.o. cat has had some unexplained liver nonsense that has nearly killed her twice now. Force feeding, shoving pills down her throat, subcu fluids… yeah, love it. And my kids are happy cuz she’s still alive. So it’s all good, right?

  • Janine

    Yay! I’m so glad he’s pulling through! I appreciate that you’re taking care of him yourself. I’ve been thinking a lot about care in our society lately… We kind of pass the buck to someone else when things get messy (myself included). I think you taught your kids a good lesson in humanity. I wish my peanut could have seem his sisters birth… It didn’t work out that way (and as you know it works out as it should) but I hope they both see birth as a natural normal function. I’ve been trying to see death the same way, because, as you said, it’s a part of life… Why spend our time and energy fearing it…. I’m working on that one 😀

  • Shan

    I’m pulling for you and the little motherfucker!

    And I’m going to ponder your thoughts on the not scary side of death.

    • renegademama

      don’t ponder it too long. it’s probably complete crap and the one, single, sure-fire way to land your kids in therapy. forever.

      you crack me up (post script).

  • dani

    You have some “get out of jail free” cards coming your way.

    I’m glad the pup is holding steady (I hope that’s still the case). I love your boy’s take on death…I’d like to think my heart stuck around.

    I didn’t have a homebirth (albeit, I was thisclose to it), but I would have let The Boy watch. He told me I was loud, too. To quote my then 3 year old: Can you keep it down? I’m trying to sleep and you are too loud.