Animals in Literature

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Jasper’s Day

Jasper’s Day is a story about the last day of a golden retriever, Jasper, whose family is giving him one special day before putting him down. The story is told through the eyes of Riley, a young boy who knows his family is doing the right thing by not letting Jasper suffer any longer but also knows that it will be the hardest thing he’s ever had to do. An emotional story, Jasper’s Day speaks to acceptance, remembrance and the importance of cherishing moments together.

Why use this book?

  • Highlights the strong connection and relationship people can have with an animal, known as the human-animal bond.
  • Addresses pet loss in a positive and realistic manor. Often the first loss children experience is that of a beloved pet. Books can provide an opportunity to discuss and deal with emotions about loss and grief in a healthy way.

Animal Welfare Considerations:

  • n/a

Ask your students:

  • Why did the family decide to celebrate Jasper’s Day?
  • Why did the boy want to bring the camera when the family took Jasper on the outing?
  • Towards the end of the story the boy has a surprising thought that maybe Jasper is ready. What does the boy mean by this? Why do you think he feels this way?
  • How did the boy feel when his father took Jasper to the vet?
  • What could the mom say to the boy to help console him? What could the boy say to his mom to console her?
  • What do you do when you feel sad? What helps you feel better?
  • At the end of the story, the boy says that today was the hardest day of his life, but that it was also a good day too. What do you think he means by this?


  • Life Stages – How we meet the needs of our pets varies depending on their stage of life. Things such as the amount of food, amount of exercise, and how we provide comfort can all change as a pet ages. Have students research how the needs of a dog (or a pet of their choosing) changes between a puppy, an adult dog, and a senior dog.
  • Special Celebration – The boy decides he will make a memory book of Jasper’s life with all the photos he has of Jasper. As a class, brainstorm a list of other ways families can celebrate a life of their pet. Plant a tree, do a special activity, share favourite memories, donate to an animal shelter etc.
  • Sympathy Card – Have students design a sympathy card for someone who has recently lost a pet or for the boy in the story. Students can choose to include a poem about a pet or suggestions on how to feel better.
  • Animal Life Spans – In pairs, have students create a list of ten animals and then have them research their life spans. Finally, ask students to order the animals according to their life spans from least to greatest.

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