Chanel: The Death of Our Matriarch Facility Dog
With Resources on Talking to Patients About Chanel's Death
From Jennier Hayes, M.Div., Director of Spiritual Care at Cook Children's Health Care System
It is with great sadness that we share Chanel, our matriarch facility dog, died unexpectedly.
Surrounded by her handler team, office mates, chaplain, special friends, and vet, Chanel died surrounded by love, care, comfort, and encouragement.
Kat Davitt—Chanel’s Mama, handler, roommate, and co-worker—shares these words about her beloved Chanel:
“Chanel and her brother Ralph began the Sit…Stay…Play! Program at Cook Children’s Medical Center program in 2014; she supported countless numbers of patients, families and staff since that time.
In Chanel’s career, she worked in the Neurology Clinic and the inpatient Oncology/Hematology floor as well as with Pain Team and the Trauma & Surgery Recovery unit. Chanel loved these patients and every other child she met.
It is unusual to meet someone who is living exactly the life they were meant to live, but Chanel was a dog who was lucky enough to do just that.
She was blessed to be at work on Thursday, still able to do the work she loved doing—supporting patients and families. There was not a morning that she was not excited to put on her green vest and jump in the car. Her tail wag was strong when she knew it was time to go ‘see her friends’.
Diagnosed with epilepsy in the fall, Chanel’s seizures escalated. Her vets were trying to control the seizures with medication, but, unfortunately, her seizures could not be stopped on Friday.
I can only imagine how many of the precious children she’s known will be there to meet her with greetings and love as she crossed over. Her reach was deep and wide so she will be missed by people in every corner of the Medical Center and the community. Her servant’s heart was true.”
We give thanks for all the companions in our lives who provide us comfort, joy, and friendship.
Peace and blessings.
How To Talk to a Child or Teen about Chanel's Death
- It is always important for children and teens to hear things from their trusted caregivers. Here are some ways to start that discussion:
- Allow them to discuss the emotions they are experiencing.
- Lead with any changes in Chanel that has been noticed by the child or teen (Chanel going to the vet more, Chanel sleeping more, not being present on the unit as much as in the past)
- Help your child or teen understand. What does it mean for when a dog dies? (doesn’t need to eat/drink).
- Avoid using the words “put to sleep” or “they are in a deep sleep” as that can cause confusion or fear about falling to sleep or anesthesia procedures.
- Typically, when children or teens process, they will ask. Allow for opportunity for the discussion to continue when they are asking questions.
- Allow them to know that it is still okay to talk about Chanel.
- Validate your child’s or teen’s feelings, make sure they know it is normal to have big feelings about the loss of Chanel.
- Further resources can be found here.