Boo Boo's Vacation - How one mom honored the life of her family's beloved bulldog

Pet loss is hard, so what do you do when your kids are trying to cope?

When euthanizing pets, owners often ask me: “How should I talk to my kids about this?” or “What can we do with our kids to honor our pet’s memory?”

Courtney Reynolds, a mom of three and owner of PAMWEAR, came up with an idea that I think is pretty amazing.

Boo sends a photo from in front of the Eiffel Tower!

Courtney has letters regularly “sent” from her late bulldog, Boogie, to her young son. The letters come from all over the world and sometimes highlight major world events like the Olympics or the royal wedding. The letters from Boogie include short but sweet notes about what he is doing, and Courtney always includes an image of Boogie photoshopped in the spot he is writing from.

Courtney posts the videos of her son receiving and opening the letters. His excitement is contagious and downright tear-jerking. These videos get thousands of likes and countless comments from people around the world.

Her idea has kept the spirit of Boogie alive in their household and has inspired many people to do the same thing.

Courtney was kind enough to sit down and share her story with me:

To start, I would love to know Boogies story. Where did you get Boogie?

Courtney: We got boogie from a family in Oceanside when he was 12 weeks old. They owned the mom and dad and never expected them to be able to mount each other and have babies. So they only had this one litter.

What was the relationship like between Boogie and your son?

Courtney: They had a somewhat tumultuous relationship. Boogie was pretty head-strong and did whatever he wanted. If he wanted to walk through Sammy’s tower of blocks to get to the other side of the room, he had no problem plowing through. Situations like that really made Sammy mad and he sort of always expected Boogie to push him around whenever he was near. There was some resentment but also love. Depended on the day!

How old was your son when Boogie passed?

He was almost two and a half years old.

Boo gives dreads a go in Jamaica

And how did your family deal with the passing?

One thing that is really hard for me when a pet passes is the lack of mentioning them. I hate the idea of them fading away from our memory. It’s hard enough not having them physically there. I don’t want the love I had to die with them. To me I feel like not mentioning them is doing them a disservice, and almost forgetting that they existed. Also Sammy would mention 'boo boo' (our nickname for Boogie) all the time and it pained me to think of him forgetting and no longer saying his name.

At that point in Sammy’s life he didn't really understand death. So with his lack of knowledge and the fact that I didn't want Boogie to fade away, this idea was born.

Does your son anticipate the letters, show them at ‘show and tell’, talk about it to friends and family?

What’s been sort of nice is that Sammy gets excited for the letters but doesn't get upset if weeks go by without a letter. He sort of forgets about them until the next one comes. With each letter Boo sends pictures of himself on his vacation and we tape them up around the house. So occasionally he’ll refer to Boogie’s photo and it sparks up a conversation about where he is and where he may go next. We have a giant globe in our living room that we'll always go to after we get a letter from him and show Sammy where he is currently.

I've thought about how this story will progress. Like when Sammy gets old enough and realizes Boogie may not actually be on vacation. But it’s no different than a child believing in Santa Claus. I think it’s a way to enrich their life and make things more magical. Also I find it healing as well.

Did you do anything else to celebrate Boogie’s life or past pets lives? If so, could you touch on that?

With our last two dogs that passed I had them cremated and keep their ashes by our bedside. But I took a little out of each box and put some in these really sweet, small metal urns (like pendant size) then nailed them into trees around where my dogs loved spending most of their time. Our lab loved sitting under our olive tree. So she gets to be there always. And Boogie loved loved loved swimming in our pool. So his ashes are hanging in a tree overlooking our pool.

If you're interested in recreating what Courtney has done for your family, follow her on Instagram at @napkinapocalypse

As always...

lots of love,

Dr. Rose

Boo and his sister Pam rocking the rainbow