It’s been a tough year in our house for older pets. First, we lost our most senior dog, Daisy, one year ago, one month shy of her 15th birthday. Although her daughter, Jazmine, was much younger, she faded swiftly and passed away a month ago, just after her 12th birthday. Despite realizing that in both cases, they are more comfortable and happy now, and despite the presence of a dear young pup in our home, we still feel their loss, especially the one who works from home, walks dogs most days, and is feeder-in-chief – aka, me!
Jazmine, Chili and Daisy, summer 2015
When I found the book highlighted below, I knew it was perfect to help ease the pain. I’ve also included a few other titles that I found helpful. If you know of others, please add them in the comments.
Title: My Old Pal, Oscar
Written By: Amy Hest
Illustrated By: Amy Bates
Publisher/date: Abrams Books for Young Readers/2016
Suitable for Ages: 5-7
Themes/Topics: dogs, loss, overcoming grief, bibliotherapy
Opening: “Hello, you. Who are you?
No tags? No name?
You sure are little. Except for those feet.
Those four big feet making footprints in the sand.”
Brief Synopsis: A young child grieving for his deceased dog meets a stray puppy who follows him on the beach.
Links to Resources:
- Take a walk on a beach (or some other favourite place – like a park);
- Collect things (that are free and won’t be harmed, of course!) while you walk;
- Do you have a favourite pet or person? Draw a picture of your favourite pet/person and place it by your bedside.
Why I Like this Book:
With simple text and stunning watercolour illustrations, Amy Hest and Amy Bates tell the story of a young child grieving a deceased pet and finding new love. My Old Pal, Oscar is sure to soothe anyone, of any age, who is grieving a loss, whether from moving away, death, or any other reason. And while it’s clear that the young child’s grief subsides as the story progresses, it’s also clear that the “old pal” is far from forgotten – an important reminder for all of us.
A Note about Craft:
My Old Pal, Oscar has a very low word count and is told entirely in dialogue, or more precisely monologue, by the young child missing Oscar. While all the words are said by the child, the stray pup answers via his looks and actions – making this a great example of letting the illustrations tell part of the story.
If You Liked this Book:
If you’re missing a pet or otherwise coping with loss, I also recommend:
Sammy in the Sky, Barbara Walsh with paintings by Jamie Wyeth (Candlewick Press, 2011)
city dog, country frog, Mo Willems, illustrated by Jon J Muth (Hyperion Books for Children, 2010).