Pet loss can be a difficult experience for kids. Recently, Daddy Clay dealt with this as his family's beloved hamster, and star of the classic DadLabs video "Starter Pets", Mr. Paws, passed away. In this episode of Quality Time, he shares his suggestions to parents on how to organize a pet funeral. Telling stories and offering a prayer are nice ways to recognize a pet at a funeral service. Dads and moms can also encourage children to honor the departed pet with craft projects.
Daddy Clay: Today we mark a sad occasion, the passing of a DadLabs star. Just three years ago, we released a video that became an international smash hit called "Starter Pets". It starred none other than Mr. Paws. Sadly, last week, Mr. Paws passed away. Leaving us to ask the question - What makes for a really kickass dwarf hamster funeral? This episode of DadLabs is brought to you by BabyBjorn. Dad-friendly, Swedish design, BabyBjorn. Sure, to us, it's a glorified mouse but to a kid, this rodent or even a reptile or a fish can be a friend and its death a cause for serious sadness. The child's first brush with grief. I know that when my daughter burst out the door and told me that Mr. Paws was dead, it absolutely broke my heart. Not that Mr. Paws' demise was any big surprise to us. At four to five years of age, my dwarf hamster was the George Burns of rodents. But this was none the less a beloved family pet and a funeral was going to be required. Not that day of course, because my daughter had to go for a sleepover. So the funeral had to happen the next day. Thus we have an answer to the age old question - Would you put a corpse of a gerbil in your fridge? Yes, yes I would. Now what exactly goes into a meaningful little ceremony? A ceremony that your kids will find meaningful and important to them. Daddy Brad: We are gathered her today to say goodbye to Goofyrama. She was a good fish, although a little goofy. Daddy Clay: I would suggest three things. Telling stories, favorite stories about the pet. Go around the room. Daddy Brad: You got anything to say guys? Kid: I miss that guy. Daddy Clay: Say a prayer if that's part of your faith tradition. Daddy Brad: But, you know, it's tough to be a fish. So, we loved you Goofyrama. Have a peaceful time in the great ocean in the sky. Daddy Clay: And of course, the craft project. For our craft project, my daughter quickly began to decorate the lid of the hastily arranged gift box coffin that I'd constructed. She put the pet's name, its dates and a few cute illustrations. Now your kids may want to do something more involved, make it more of a celebration. I'd suggest getting one of these decorative stepping stones for the garden. These are great little kits; they have everything that you need. You can create a likeness of the pet, his or her name, say something, R.I.P. And this will provide something for the kids to enjoy in the garden and remember their pet by. When the funeral's over, go get some ice cream. So, here's my story that I told at the hamster funeral. Mr. Paws had a previous brush with death. When we were on vacation, Mr. Paws was left without food I think. And he managed to escape from his cage. And he crawled out and he disappeared. We came home and my daughter was absolutely bereft. The hamster was gone. We had no idea what to do. And for the following 10 days, we saw no sign of the tiny hamster. We had pretty much written it off as a goner. We'd all mourned. Moved on. Well, I was doing a little project and lost a piece next to the refrigerator. Bent down, and there he was looking back at me. Wild eyed, his fur a mess. Mr. Paws had gone feral. I thought there was no hope that we'd ever get him back. But I called my daughter and said, "Look its Mr. Paws." And she bent down, and she spoke some strange Dr. Doolittle-like words. And the next thing I know this feral hamster, this wild and dangerous rodent, crawled right out and right into her cupped palm. And she carried him off and put him back in his cage, which is pretty amazing. So the subject is pet funerals. Would you have one? What goes into a good one? I know it's a little bit different with dogs and cats. They're a little bit more significant family members. Do you go to the pet cemetery? I don't know. But we want to hear from you. DadLabs.com. Join the conversation. We'll certainly join in too. And that's all for us this time on Quality Time.