DEAR ABBY: When I was growing up, I was taught to love animals and I had several. For various reasons I never had to deal with making the decision to put one to sleep.
As I grew older, I realized we don't have the right to "own" living creatures, but we can take care of them. Eventually, my dog became ill and I had to make the choice to put him down. It was heartbreaking, and while I support my local animal shelter, I vowed to never again have another animal I would have to make that decision for.
Now my children are asking me to find a dog for them, and I'm at a loss about what to do. Do I first make them aware that the animal we love will die in some fashion, including that we may have to decide to put him to sleep? Or do I let them have an animal and let them deal with the heartbreak when the time comes? Thanks for your input. -- ANIMAL GUARDIAN IN MICHIGAN
DEAR ANIMAL GUARDIAN: If your children are young, let them enjoy having a pet to love without worrying about the fact that its life span may not be forever. If you do, they will learn about responsible pet ownership in good time, as well as the responsibility that comes when the pet becomes so old or sick that it can no longer enjoy life. While death is a part of life, I don't think that reality should be impressed upon your children now.