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March 22, 2017


Blog Art For Ask Nikki March 22nd

Nikki, help! My BFF and I have been besties for more than three years, but recently it’s been more of a one-way friendship. I’m ALWAYS the one to invite her over and ALWAYS the one to start a text conversation. I feel like I might be too clingy and she might not want to be best friends with me anymore! Any advice?

Brokenhearted Bestie

Hey Brokenhearted Bestie,

Okay, first of all, this is a TERRIBLE feeling!

Second, you are NOT alone!!

I think everyone goes through this at some point. So while we can agree it’s awful, there’s some comfort in knowing it happens to everyone, right?

I think the first thing you have to do is tell her how you feel. In person. If I were you, I’d be nervous about seeming too clingy and needy. But you have to talk to her. It’s the only way to know what’s going on. She’s not a mind reader. And maybe she just has a lot going on. Maybe there’s family stuff, health stuff or some other stressful stuff that’s taking her attention.

But, sometimes friendships change. People grow apart. This is painful, but it totally happens. Because here’s the thing: you guys are growing up. Which is AWESOME! But it also means you’re changing. And while it would be great if you could change at exactly the same rate, in exactly the same ways, that’s basically impossible. Identical twins don’t even change identically!

So, maybe that’s what’s happening. She’s changing in a particular direction and needs something different from you than she did before. It may not mean she doesn’t want to be friends with you anymore.

But either way, you need to talk to her. Don’t text, where it’s easy for her to just not respond to a difficult question, or get distracted by something else. Do it in person. Try not to be demanding of her time, but let her know you miss hanging out with her. And you miss feeling like a priority to her. Don’t act angry, or she’ll be defensive. Show her how you feel and how you wish things were!

The thing about talking to her is that there’s a chance she’ll say, “You know what? I actually need some space.” And you have to be ready for that. But, wouldn’t it be better for her to tell you the truth than for you to keep wondering what’s up with her, the way you are right now?

Also, it’s not all or nothing. It’s not like the only choices are BFF or stranger on the street. She can still be your friend, even if she wants some space from being BFFs. It’ll take some getting used to if you’re moving into a different stage of your friendship. But the changes are already happening. The difference is, now you’ll have a clearer idea of what to expect.

And, here’s the other thing you should totally remember: you had SUCH a close friendship for so long, and that shows you know how to be a good friend. Even if this close friendship is coming to an end, you WILL find another good friend who’s just right for you again! 🙂

I’m sorry you’re going through this. It’s hard. I hope she’s going to say, “OMG!! I’m SO sorry, it’s just I’ve had X, Y, and Z going on, but I really want to be a better friend!” But if she doesn’t, I’m confident you WILL find a way to move on and you WILL build new friendships. I promise!

Have you ever grown apart from a BFF? Did you talk about it, or just drift? How do you know when a friendship can be saved?
March 21, 2017

Rachel LOVES Reading YOUR Letters! Send her one!


Would you like to send Rachel Renée Russell a letter via email or the postal service? She loves reading all of your letters and will try her best to answer them.


You can send a  letter via snail mail (also known as the postal service) and Rachel will write back and include a free set of bookmarks and stickers for her latest book.

However, due to the large number of letters she receives from fans all over the world, please allow 4 to 6 weeks for a response.

Please remember to print your name and return address neatly so that Rachel’s letter does not get lost in the mail or stamped, “Return To Sender.”

Classroom letters are welcome!

You can write to Rachel at:

Rachel Renée Russell
c/o Daniel Lazar
Writers House
21 West 26th Street
New York, NY  10010

March 20, 2017


OMG!! I can FINALLY write about the HORROR of flying with Brianna—it took me like a week to recover and face the trauma!!!

So if you read my diary last week, you know we were flying to Indiana for mid-winter break and the airport was enough drama. We got up crazy early, Brianna wandered off during check-in, and she almost got us arrested when she attack-hugged a security dog…

I thought she might sleep on the plane. OMG, I couldn’t have been more wrong! She got all hyped up on doughnuts and hot chocolate before we even boarded!! And to make matters worse, this was her very first trip on a plane. (Thanks a lot, MOM.)

Then, of COURSE we didn’t have four seats all together in the same row, because each row had only three seats. Two of our seats were in an exit row, where they don’t let kids sit. So, my parents sat there and I was the one who had to sit with Brianna a few rows back!!!

She demanded the window seat, so I was stuck between her and this businessman who kept on elbowing me as he typed on his laptop.

“Why aren’t we flying?” she asked, two seconds after we sat down. People were still boarding the plane. “How about now? How about NOW? When are we going to flyyyyyyy????”

Mr. Laptop Guy was straight up trying to kill us WITH HIS EYES. I mean, geez. I wanted Brianna to shut up, too!! But why was he glaring at ME???

Once everyone was seated, the flight attendants started their speech about what to do when the plane crashes into the ocean. I’m not going to lie, this speech makes me nervous. So I KINDA understood when Brianna freaked out.

But girlfriend took it to a WHOLE OTHER LEVEL!

“Is my seat belt tight enough? Promise you’ll do my air mask first, Nikki! A water landing? WHERE’S MY LIFE VEST?!!”

Then Brianna got OUT of her seat, even though the plane was already moving, and climbed onto the floor. She pulled out the life vest attached to the bottom of her seat.

“She can’t do that!” the businessman huffed, looking up from his laptop.

“Yeah, well you’re not supposed to be on your computer during takeoff, either!” I shot back. But I only said it inside my head, so nobody heard it but me. 🙂

I yanked Brianna back to her seat and fastened her seat belt. But, have you ever tried to put an airplane seatbelt on a kid wearing a life vest???

“Brianna, we’re flying from New York to Indiana. There will NOT be a water landing.”

“You don’t know that for sure!” she whined.

“Actually…I do!”

“What about lakes?? And rivers??? And…and…swimming pools!”

Okay, she had a point there. But crashing into a swimming pool sounded better than another minute sitting next to Brianna on a plane!

“Look Brianna, if you chill out, I’ll let you play Princess Sugar Plum: Adventures On Baby Unicorn Island my cell phone.”

Brianna didn’t have time to decide whether or not I was serious (I totally was!). Because right then, the plane lifted off the ground. If you’ve never flown on a plane before, it’s a lot like a rollercoaster going up a huge hill.

Brianna felt it. And she started to SCREAM!

“Would you PLEASE tell her to be quiet?!” the businessman hissed.

“Sorry,” I mumbled. “Brianna, hey! Look at me! We’re okay! You wanted to fly! We’re flying! Like…like fairies! Like…unicorns!”

“Unicorns don’t fly,” said a woman from behind me. Who was NOT helping.

(And I KNOW unicorns don’t fly, but this was a stressful situation, okay???)

“Um, is she all right?” said a flight attendant, gripping the businessman’s seat. I don’t think she was supposed to be walking around yet, but Brianna’s screams were hard to ignore.

“Um, not really…” I groaned.

“Is she…wearing her life vest?”

This flight attendant had a really strong grasp on the OBVIOUS!!!!

“I’d like a different seat,” the businessman snarled.

“Brianna, honey, why are you screaming?” My mom was now standing up in her row and calling back to us.

“Ma’am, please sit down!” called the flight attendant.

“That’s my daughter!”

And then Brianna stopped screaming, pointed out the window, and said, “Ooooh, pretty clouds!”

After that, the businessman switched seats with my mom and Brianna only screamed again when the plane ride got a little bumpy. And when someone flushed the toilet on the plane. And when we were landing. And when it took ten minutes to get off the plane. And, in the airport when Dad wouldn’t let her RIDE on the baggage carousel with the suitcases.

You know when she finally fell asleep?
In the rental car, as we were pulling into my mom’s friend’s driveway!

“Oh, she’s sleeping like a little angel,” my mom’s friend cued, looking in the window at her.

HA!! If she’s an angel, maybe she can fly herself home! Because I’M sure not sitting next to her on the way back!!! 🙁

If you could travel on an airplane to any place in the world, where would you want to go? Who would you LOVE to travel with and who would you HATE to travel with and why?
March 19, 2017



Hey Brandon,
I wanted to ask you something. I have a crush on a movie star. It’s not just that I think he’s cute. (Though he’s SUPER cute.) I think we have so much in common and I really like his personality. I know this might sound crazy, but I honestly think we’d be friends if I had the chance…and maybe more than friends. 🙂 I wrote him a letter and followed him on every possible web page he’s on. But he’s never replied to my messages or comments. What should I do?!


Hey Star Crushed,

Thanks for your letter. I bet a lot of readers can relate. I know I’ve definitely had crushes on certain actors and singers. And when they’re really good performers, they draw you in and make you feel like you have a connection. That ability is why they’re so successful.

You might be totally right—you might have TONS in common with this actor. He might really, really like you if he gave you a chance. And he might be absolutely as awesome as he seems on screen or on social media.

Or…he might not be so awesome. (Don’t shoot the messenger, namely me!) What you see and hear about celebrities is not usually anything near real. Even when he’s doing an interview and answering as himself and not a character…he’s still sort of playing a character. He’s been dressed and coached and taught how to promote his movie however his manager wants him to. Plus there are a few other obstacles…do you even live in the same city? Is he an age-appropriate crush?

I mean, these things don’t matter as long as you’re just crushing from afar. Crush away—put posters up on your wall and be a super fan. But, it sounds like you’re really hoping something will actually happen between you and your celebrity crush…and I don’t want you to get your hopes up too high.

Also, please don’t get too bummed out over how he hasn’t responded to your messages and follows. It would be so cool if he did, and maybe he still will. But, actors have really busy schedules with all their filming and interviews. And I am NOWHERE near as famous as a Hollywood actor and even I can’t keep up with MY inbox.

I’m sure there are people who get offended or even hurt feelings when I don’t answer every email. But I just can’t. If I answered every single question that comes in to the Ask Brandon inbox, I wouldn’t have time for school, volunteering at Fuzzy Friends, working on the school newspaper, or ANYTHING. I would have to get up in the morning, start answering Ask Brandon questions, and keep going until bedtime. Every day!

But even though I can’t answer every single question, I read them all and I wish I could answer them. And I’m so grateful for the community we have here at the Dork Diaries website. I’m so glad there are so many readers who open up about what they’re going through and support each other.

I’m sure your crush feels the same way about his fans. Even if he can’t answer every message, or get to know every fan the way he might like to, I bet he’s SO glad to know that the work he’s doing as an actor is connecting with viewers. I’m sure each message means a whole lot to him.

Unfortunately, I just don’t think there’s a magic trick that will make you BFFs (or more). There’s not even a magic trick to getting him to respond to your fan mail or follows. I think the best thing you can do is focus on enjoying him as a fan. Don’t let your enjoyment of his movies, music or TV shows be ruined by frustration that you can’t have more.

Readers, how do you handle it when you’ve got a celebrity obsession? How do you express your feelings? How do you move on?
March 15, 2017



Dear Nikki,
I have a friend who is always depressed. Every time I ask her why she’s feeling so sad, she answers, “It’s nothing.” I know something’s bothering her, but she won’t tell me. I’m worried that she might hurt herself! What should I do, Nikki?

Really Worried Friend

Hi Really Worried Friend,

I can understand why you’re worried! I bet you’re worried, anxious, upset and a bunch of other things too. I would be as well!

So first of all, if you know that she’s considering hurting herself, I need you to stop reading this column right now and encourage your friend to talk to a parent, teacher or a counselor she trusts. Give her the chance to reach out to an adult herself. But if she won’t, then YOU need to find a trustworthy adult and talk to them about it. Getting an adult involved is the first, most important thing here. I’ll wait while you make sure that happens.

Okay, so she talked to an adult—or you did. I hope so. Because you don’t want to mess around with this. Even if you’re not sure, you just think she might hurt herself, you want to take it very seriously. Maybe you’re wrong. Maybe she’ll be mad at you. Maybe she’ll think you betrayed her confidence. You didn’t. She’s not thinking clearly right now and the most loyal thing you can do is value her life while she doesn’t. It’s important that she gets help. And this is something you really can’t help with by yourself—and you shouldn’t have to.

Here’s what you CAN do: Be a friend. Let her know you’re there and you care about her. That’s the main thing.

And if you think she’s shutting you out when she won’t tell you what’s wrong, she’s not. She may not be able to explain what’s wrong. Depression is a brain chemistry thing. It’s not like, Someone died so now I’m depressed. I mean, it can be. But more likely, she just feels awful all the time and she really can’t explain it. That’s because her brain is telling her lies and she’s using all the energy she has to do the stuff she HAS to do. And when you’re a kid in school, no one lets you stay home for depression. So she’s forced to keep getting up and acting like the world is normal and doing homework, etc etc., all while feeling so awful.

So, I know you’re trying to show her you care by asking her what’s wrong all the time. But instead, show her through your actions that you’re there and you care. Talk to her about normal stuff. Talk to her about your problems—which might be a nice distraction. Send her little texts or slip her little notes that aren’t bugging her about WHAT’S WRONG but just say, “Hey! I’m glad you’re my friend! 🙂 ” or something thoughtful like that.

If you show her you’re there, then she’ll know where to turn when or if she decides she wants to talk. So these are the steps:

  1. Get an adult involved.
  2. Show her you’re there without pressuring her to share.
  3. Don’t take it personally if she doesn’t confide in you.

I really hope that helps and that your friend gets the help she needs.

Has anyone else ever dealt with a friend who’s depressed or down in the dumps? How did you handle it, and what happened with your friend?
March 14, 2017

The 2017 Children’s Choice Award Best Book Finalist Grade 5-6! 

Hi everyone!  The guy dancing around above is my good friend, MAX CRUMBLY!

He first appeared in my Dork Diaries Book 10: Tales From a Not-So-Perfect Pet Sitter.

Did you know that Max and my crush, Brandon, are best friends!

WHY is Max so HAPPY that he’s dancing?

LockerHero_cvrIt’s because his new book, THE MISADVENTURES OF MAX CRUMBLY:  LOCKER HERO, just got nominated for a really cool award.

The 2017 Children’s Choice Award Best Book Finalist Grade 5-6! 

And, if Max gets enough votes he could possibly even WIN!!   SQUEEEEEEE!!!

Would you like to VOTE?!!   YES!

Great!  Please vote for Max Crumbly’s book by going to the voting page, scrolling down to Grade 5-6 Finalists, and then clicking the orange VOTE button right below the Max Crumbly book.

You can only select ONE book for each grade level.  So, remember to vote for  THE MISADVENTURES OF MAX CRUMBLY for Grade 5-6!!

Click on the image below to go to the voting page (then find Max’s book and vote for it!):


Have you read the Misadventures of Max Crumbly? What was your favorite part?
If YOU and I were going to hang out with Max and Brandon this Saturday, what would we do for fun? Details please!
March 11, 2017



Hi Brandon,

I’m having trouble with this guy at school. We used to be good friends. But now, whenever I talk to him he’s really quiet and just blushes, and sometimes I catch him staring at me. How do I know if he likes me or not? And to be honest, he probably doesn’t because I’m not pretty enough.

Not-So-Pretty Princess

Hey Not-So-Pretty Princess,

Oh boy.

I get a LOT of emails asking, “How do I know if my crush likes me?” I’d guess it’s about half my inbox. Not even kidding. And I’m usually not quite sure what to say. Because the thing is, I’m just like you. I never have any idea whether or not a crush likes ME. I think you have to be a mind-reader to figure out what girls are thinking!

Let’s talk about guys. On one hand, guys are usually pretty straightforward. More often than not, they say what they mean. BUT also…guys aren’t always comfortable talking about their feelings. (Those are generalizations, and there are definitely guys who are great with feelings, or who play mind games or whatever. But when I don’t know the people involved in a situation, sometimes I have to rely on some generalizations.)

Unless you straight up ask someone, “Do you like me?” there’s really no way to know FOR SURE.

HOWEVER. There are some extremely significant clues in your post. Which is why I chose to answer yours (since I can’t answer every question on this topic).

So, you say that he’s quiet and blushes when you talk to him, and sometimes you catch him staring. This is pretty classic crushing behavior. Maybe he’s crushing. Or maybe he’s trying to decide if he’s crushing. But he’s definitely noticing you in a new way, and being awkward about it. (Totally normal. I’m sure you’ve been friends with guys one day and then suddenly you start to see them differently.)

Now, here’s the part I REALLY want to talk about – I’m not that pretty so I don’t think he likes me. Seriously? Listen up, all you girls out there. If I’m going to make some generalizations about guys, I should make them about girls, too. Why are girls so slow to realize they’re pretty? And what does pretty mean anyway? And, why do girls think guys are so shallow to think like that?

I completely don’t believe that you’re not pretty. I believe YOU believe it. But nope. Sorry. I never believe a girl when she says that. In fact, any girl who says that is definitely pretty. They’re just way too hard on themselves.

And, pretty is a weird concept anyway. Who decides what’s pretty? If YOU believe you’re pretty, you’ll have self-confidence that will make you attractive to others.

But more importantly, even if you aren’t “pretty” (whatever that means), why would that mean this guy couldn’t like you? Do you ONLY crush on guys based on how they look? Even if that’s the first thing that might attract you to someone, a crush mostly becomes about personality, right? About being smart, kind, funny or talented? If you think guys are ONLY about looks, you must not think much of guys.

And if THIS guy is only about looks, you’re way too good for him.

So, I can’t say for sure whether or not he’s crushing on you. But based on your clues, I think there’s a good chance he is. Does that mean anything has to change between you guys? Not at all. If you want things to change, I think it’s up to you to make the next move. And if you just want to stay friends, then stay friendly. He’ll get over his awkward self eventually. We always do. 🙂

How do you know when a crush is into you, and do you sometimes feel insecure? How do you deal with this?
March 8, 2017


Ask Nikki Blog Art March 8th

Hey Nikki! I have a big problem. My friend and I are very similar—we both like the color blue, we both like the same foods, and have the same hobbies. I know you might be thinking that’s a good thing, but lately my friend has been first with things we want to do and now it seems like I’m copying her! I want to do the things I like, but not anymore because she’s getting mad at me for copying. What should I do?

Copycat Clone

Hey CC!

Can I call you CC? 🙂 It doesn’t feel right to call you a copycat OR a clone, because you’re just doing you! And there’s nothing wrong with that! YOU just happen to have a lot in common with your BFF…which makes total sense!!

But, this is a tricky situation. I can see why it might be awkward if it’s like you’re always copying, even if you’re not. You don’t want to be a copycat. But you also don’t want to stop following your heart just because of how it might look. That’s no good!

Here’s a question I have: why is your friend first at everything? I mean, even before you started to feel awkward about copying? I’m TOTALLY not saying you are copying her. But here’s what I’m thinking: Maybe she’s always been a little more confident in saying what she likes and doing what she wants. Maybe you hold back a little? And then she looks like she’s the one who’s doing everything first.

And that’s a crazy cycle, because the more you’re afraid of looking like a copycat, the more you hold back, and the more she gets to everything first.

So, I think part of the solution here is for you to be MORE confident about what you like and want to do! Now, it’s easier said than done. It probably helps if you understand WHY you hold back. Are you worried what people will think? Are you worried what you like is weird or wrong in some way? If so, try to remember that DORKS RULE!!! And if you like something, that’s all you need to know! It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about it. AND it sounds like you have pretty good instincts for stuff, since it usually turns out that your BFF likes the same things.

So the next time you think you want to try wearing your hair a new way, or you want to try out for the soccer team, or you discover this rock band that’s SO cool, DON’T WAIT to do that thing or tell people you’re into something. Trust yourself and go for it! And chances are, your BFF will soon say, “Wow, you know, I really love that band, too!!” (Or not! You guys don’t have to be in sync on everything!!)

But, here’s the other thing. This is your BFF, right? I mean…have you talked to her about this? It might feel weird and awkward, but she’s your BFF! You can talk to her about anything! 🙂

So maybe just bring it up, and be like, “It’s so cool how much we have in common! Sometimes I worry you think I’m copying you, but honestly we’re just THAT in sync. I’m just not always as outspoken as you are, so you say stuff or do stuff first. You know I’m not copying you, right?”

As long as you and your friend get things straightened out, you should be all set! It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. And if anyone comments on it, you can just say something like, “I know! It’s SO cool to have a BFF who’s so close she’s like my twin!!!”

I hope that helps.

Readers, how do you handle it when someone thinks you’re copying, or when someone keeps copying you?
March 6, 2017


nikki-diary-march6-optimizeI am NEVER stepping foot in an airport with Brianna EVER AGAIN!!

My dad has some exterminator’s convention in Indianapolis, which is where my mom’s BFF from high school lives, and Grandma had some frequent flyer miles that needed to get used. So apparently we’re taking a family trip to Indi for mid-winter break.

This is how the day started: The airport shuttle picked us up at 5:00!! I am not even kidding!!! I slept in the clothes I planned to wear so I could just roll out of bed and into the van.

Brianna didn’t even roll. My dad carried her from her bed to the shuttle, where she then drooled on my shoulder all the way to the airport. But hey, she was asleep! Asleep Brianna is my favorite Brianna!!

Then we got to the airport.

My parents couldn’t figure out how to use the touch-screen machine for automated check-in. Sometimes it’s like they’ve never seen a computer before! So I stepped in and checked us in, while they hovered over my shoulder. When we turned around with our boarding passes…no Brianna.

My mom went into the same panic she goes into any time we lose Brianna. But honestly, we lose Brianna ALL THE TIME. She runs off. I don’t even worry anymore, because we always find her. And an airport seems like the best possible place to get lost! There are security people EVERYWHERE!!!

We each went a different direction, agreeing to meet back at Starbucks in ten minutes. There was a souvenir shop nearby, so I went there first. Brianna would LOVE all those shiny, overpriced trinkets.

I didn’t find her there, so I checked the closest bathroom. When Brianna’s gotta go, she’s GOTTA GO. But she wasn’t there either.

I still had a couple minutes before I should turn back, so I kept walking. And finally, wandering past the Air Africa counter, I saw her!

“Brianna!!” I dodged around a giant family with their suitcases open on the floor, rearranging things. “What are you doing?”

Brianna looked past me. “I’m trying to find the carousel.”

“The…what? There’s no carousel in the airport!!”

“Is too! Daddy told me last night, when he was explaining everything that would happen in the airport! There’s a carousel! Except instead of horses, it’s suitcases that you ride.”

OMG. The BAGGAGE carousel. There was no way I could explain this right now. The ten minutes had already passed and my parents were sure to be freaking out that they’d lost me too.

“The carousel is later, Brianna. Come ON.”

I would have texted my parents that I’d found her, except I didn’t trust her not to run off if didn’t keep a firm grip on her.

Sure enough, when we got to the Starbucks, my parents were talking to a security guy.

“I got her, Mom!” I called over a group of businessmen choosing their lattes.

My mom shrieked. The security guy sighed and muttered something into his walkie-talkie. Probably calling off the airport-wide lockdown my parents had demanded.

“What happened?” My mom seized Brianna like she’d been away at war for years. “Are you all right?”

“She’s fine. Shouldn’t we get in the security line?”

My mom clucked over Brianna as we headed to that monster line where you have to go through the longest, most boring maze ever, before taking off your shoes and walking into that thing that looks like some sort of space pod.

“Puppy!” Brianna screamed after we’d been in line for a couple minutes.

Sure enough, there was a security guy with a German Shepherd on a tight leash, sniffing for drugs, bombs, or dangerous toiletries—whatever those dogs are trained to sniff for.

“That puppy is working,” my dad said.

Brianna knows about working dogs. We have a neighbor with an assistance dog and she KNOWS she’s not supposed to interrupt the dog in any way. But this was Airport Brianna and all logic had flown away with the planes!!

She DOVE under the divider and threw her arms around the dog. “Puppy!!!”

My mom gasped, but the dog snuffled and licked Brianna.

The security guy, though? He boomed, “Step AWAY from the dog, Miss!”

Brianna’s eyes got huge. My parents were frozen. I stepped under the divider and took Brianna’s hand to pull her back.

“She’s just a little kid,” I muttered.


Brianna and I scrambled back to our spot in line while the dog just wagged his tail.

We FINALLY got through the line. Brianna insisted on taking off her shoes, even though under-12s don’t have to. She also REALLY wanted to go in the space pod scanner thing, but little kids go through the totally unimpressive archway. So she was a giant GRUMP by the time we found our gate.

My mom dragged her off to find doughnuts and I am FINALLY able to chill with my diary!!

All this and we haven’t even gotten on the plane yet!!!

Is it too much to hope she might sleep all the way to Indiana???

What do you guys do whenever you’re bored at the airport? Have you ever flown on a plane before? What awesome places have you been to?
March 4, 2017



Hi Brandon. I really need your help. I have the sweetest, most amazing dog. His name is Pickle. He’s always there when I’m sad or sick, and he’s always happy to see me. He’s been around almost my whole life. But that means he’s really old. I’m starting to get scared that he’s going to die!! What should I do??

I Love Pickle

Hey I Love Pickle,

Oh wow, I’m so sorry to hear this.

But first of all, let’s focus on the positive. Pickle sounds like a very special dog! And you’re so lucky to have had him around for almost your entire life. Dogs can be such amazing companions – there’s a reason they’re called man’s best friend! (And woman’s and girl’s and boy’s, too.)

They can become so important in our lives that they are a part of the family. I almost wrote ‘they’re like a part of the family’ but they really ARE a part of the family. So when a dog dies, it can be huge deal.

But, Pickle is still alive! So instead of getting sad before you have to, make sure you really enjoy all the time you have left with him. And make sure HE enjoys his time left. He’s done a lot for your family. He’s been there when you’ve been sad. He’s protected you from squirrels, mail carriers, plastic bags floating by, and those pesky monsters in your closet. He’s probably cleaned up after you when you’ve left food in your room or even eaten food you slipped him from the dinner table so you didn’t have to eat it.

So, fill whatever time he has left with all the things he loves best. If he’s well enough to go on walks or play fetch, make time for lots of that. Make sure he’s getting the best food and treats. You can even find recipes for wholesome dog treats online. Give him lots of snuggles and attention. Basically, give him a taste of all the love and affection he’s been giving you for all these years.

And who knows—Pickle might have longer to live than you think! Dog life expectancy ranges a whole lot, depending on the breed and other factors.

But, eventually Pickle WILL die. And when the end comes, your family will do what needs to be done. I’ve had dogs that had to get put down. It sounds awful—and it is—but when they get to the end, you can see that they’re in pain, and that keeping them alive any longer is for you, not them. And at that point, you owe it to Pickle to make sure he doesn’t feel any more pain than he has to.

When a dog gets put down, you can be there or not, depending what you and your parents decide. But here’s what you should know: getting put down doesn’t hurt the animal at all. The vet gives them a quick shot, which puts them to sleep first, and then it’s over. It only takes a couple minutes, and you can be there, giving Pickle lots of love along the way.

It’s so hard, but it means your sweet doggy will be at peace.

Once Pickle is gone, be prepared to grieve for a while. You won’t get over it in a couple weeks or even a couple months. You might miss Pickle for years. He was a part of your family for a very long time, and it will be completely normal to miss him when he’s gone.

It might help to have some sort of special ceremony after he’s gone. I’m not talking about a big funeral service, but just your family, or whoever loved Pickle most, gathering today to remember Pickle. You could bury him (or his ashes) with a favorite toy, or his dog bed, or a letter telling him how much he meant to you and thanking him for all he did. You could even plant a tree where he’s buried.

And then, when your family is ready, you’ll consider getting a new dog. It won’t replace Pickle. Nothing could. And you might not be ready for a while. But Pickle would want you to share your love with another dog, and eventually, you will.

How have other readers handled it when a beloved pet died? Did you do something special to say good-bye? And, did you get a new pet?