First Case Study – A Grieving Dog

Lots of you liked the idea of doing some case studies, as well as reviewing and discussing photos and videos. I think it’s a great idea, so here goes our first one:

Here’s Sleeves on the left, and Patch on the right. I’m sad to report that Patch died just last week and her sister Michaela died only a month ago. All three of them, “Boonie” dogs–or mixed-breed dogs as they are called on Guam where they were born, were raised together and were litter mates. The litter lost their mother at 4 weeks, and owner Cin bottle fed them and raised them together.

Brother Sleeve appears to be devastated at the lost of both of his litter mates in such a short period of time (not to mention poor Cin, the owner).

Sleeve appears to be grieving, and is described as “so sad” by Cin. Usually this means that the dog is atypically quiet, inactive, and has what we think of as a sad expression on its face.  I don’t know if he’s eating well, but I’ve had several cases where dogs lost their appetite after the death of a buddy. I have no doubt that Sleeve is indeed struggling with this profound change in his life. Cin has told me she has tried to do her crying away from Sleeve, but is sure he is aware that she is grieving terribly herself. It is, of course, hard to know how much of Sleeve’s behavior is a response to Cin’s grief and how much is his own directly, but the latter seems to be key, given how bonded he was to the other two dogs.

Cin describes Patch as a “determined and confident spirit” who “took care of everyone.” When Michaela died Patch stayed with Sleeve and refused to leave him, not in the sense that she needed him, but that he needed her. She was always in charge, always active, smart and funny. Without her Sleeve appears to be lost. (Cin admits to feeling the same way: Patch was her “heart dog.” Poor Cin, my own heart goes out to her.)

Here is Cin’s question and my question to you: What can she do to help Sleeve? How does any of us help a “lost” and grieving dog? I’ll add my answers to your comments on Monday, but will start by saying there is some advice that is generic to all situations, and some that requires more information from an owner. If you agree, what more would you want to know from Cin? You can ask her in the comment section.

I’ve chosen this as a case study because it is a relatively common question that we get here at the office. Besides helping Cin (who graciously agreed for me to use her dogs as a case study), we can help many other dog owners too.

MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Hot and dry again, in spite of some of the recent rain, we’re still classified as in a severe drought, and you can see it easily in the crops and pastures. It’s time to start watering in the yard. Argh.  Even the trees look stressed, and it’s terrible for them to go into winter in bad condition. The pasture was coming back a bit, but it looks rough again and I am keeping the sheep off of it for now. Back to feeding hay.

Willie and I had a heavenly time at a friend’s on Tuesday night working sheep in a huge, perfect field, with a backdrop of woods, fields and a break-your-heart sunset. We’re getting ready for our first “big” trial coming up, where the outrun will be a 200-300 yards and the drive panels a dauntingly long way away. The fact is we truly aren’t competitive at this level yet, but I think Willie is far enough along that that the trial won’t set him back. I may have to crawl away from the post because of bad handling, using rapid fire whistles to keep the sheep straight on a cross drive is truly beyond my skill set right now. My ability to handle a dog on a cross-drive is, uh, low and there’s just so much practicing I can do. My friends said it didn’t look as bad as it felt…seemed to me that the sheep zig zagged around the course like drunken monkeys. But it’ll be harder in a real competition. I’ll ask Jim to tape us when we run if you promise to laugh at us quietly and gently.

Tootsie is in heaven because the wild plum trees are dropping fruit. The ones lower in the valley have little fruit because of the warm spell and subsequent deep freeze, but one tree higher behind the house is prolific. Tootsie thinks finding little squishy plums in the grass is like manna raining from heaven. Obviously, there’s just so many I allow her to eat, but for brief moments of gobbling she thinks she’s gone to heaven.

Here’s heaven for me: Our CSA allows members to come pick 10 lbs of Roma tomatoes which we and guests did on a cool, sweet Saturday morning. I sliced them in half, drizzled on olive oil, sprinkled them with fresh Basil and cooked them at 325 F for about 2 hours. They condensed down into a sweet, intense tomato-ness that is amazing in pasta, quiches or even as a side dish all by themselves. I freeze them in layers and take them out all winter when needed. They go a long way toward brightening up a cold, bleak winter’s day!

Here’s what they look like before they go in the oven:

 

Here’s what they look like when I take them out. They are super sweet, intensely flavored and add a wonderful kick to just about anything, except maybe a chocolate bar. You can’t really tell from the photo, but they are now very thin and flat, probably have lost about 2/3 of their mass, mostly from moisture no doubt.

 

 

Comments

  1. Mary says

    Just wanted to say that I’m sure you’ll do better at your trial than I will at mine in 2 weeks. This is my first BC, I’m just starting to do whistles (so I’ll probably be yelling out commands instead of whistling), we haven’t practiced in a big field since May, and this will be my first Pro-Novice trial (can’t stay in Novice forever, right?) Too bad the difference between Novice and Pro-Novice is such a huge leap! Good luck!

  2. Laceyh says

    Of course I’ve lived through this with dogs – even, to a lesser extent, with the parting from well-liked foster dogs, where my dogs may miss them even though I’m not really grieving.

    What I find works is “the same – only more.” That is, absolutely keep to a predictable routine, but as possible do a little more exercise, training (especially review), etc. This is a bad time to introduce new tasks (or new foster dogs).

  3. says

    Does sleeves know that patch has died? Was it sudden or was he sick for a while? I think it’s important for the surviving dog to understand that their buddy has passed by having a chance to spend time with their buddy’s body.
    Lots of exercise and fun smelly walks. Perhaps play dates with dogs that sleeves already knows?
    Maybe cin could have some fun friends over to have some humour in the house?
    I would imagine that sleeves will be watching cin very closely so she truly needs to deal with her grief to be able to move forward.
    I would.nt suggest adding a new dog to the household for quite some time.
    Perhaps a few days away for them both?
    I haven’t been through this yet and absolutely dread the day it happens so am looking forward to hearing from you what works for sleeves and cin, my thoughts are with them both.

  4. Carol says

    I’ve had the same experience as Laceyh-routine is so important. My heart goes out to Cin and Sleeve-such a hard time for them both.
    Good luck in your trial. And, your tomatoes look great!

  5. Donna Hixon says

    Yes dogs grieve
    I just give them time. Try to make a exercise routine for the two of you to spend time with nature a walk or jog and give him time to adjust I find they get into the new routine in about two or three weeks.

  6. D says

    To Cin and Sleeve, I am so sorry for your loss.

    While I can’t offer advice for this case, I do have a related question. I once read a study that I believe was done in Australia on horses. If I recall, the author stated that horses seem to deal with the death of a pasture-mate better if they have the opportunity to be around the dead body for some amount of time (and I don’t recall the amount of time). Has anyone heard of this? And does it apply to dogs? It makes sense to me in a very basic way…it seems that it allows the animal time to process the fact that the friend has died, rather than just disappeared. Similar to how funerals help many humans in their grieving process, giving them that final opportunity to say goodbye.

    My dogs have had the opportunity to say goodbye to human loved ones, including my mother, when they died (my mother died in her home under hospice care, and I and my dogs were there with her). On future trips to the houses of those people we’ve lost, my dogs never seemed to look for those people any more, or even to show the same excitement as we drove in the driveway as we approached, as they used to when the people were alive. Perhaps I’m anthropomorphisizing, but I don’t think so.

    So my question is – if you know a dog is dying, is it helpful to the remaining dog(s) to PLAN to allow them to be around the body after the dog has passed, if it is at all possible? Or will it not change how they grieve?

  7. Anissa says

    I’m not a professional of any sort, so I can only offer my own experience. With my dog Vixen, who grieved after her mate Casper’s death, she certainly seemed depressed. She was inactive, quiet, and stopped eating. She didn’t want affection or to interact with the remaining dog in the house, whom she’d raised from an 8 wk old puppy. I honestly feared for her life.

    I had a scheduled visit to a friend coming up, and on the spur of the moment I took Vixen with me. She seemed to brighten up a little, taking more interest in the long drive and the new surroundings. Shortly thereafter, my mom got a new puppy and I made sure Vixen spent lots of time with her. She’s always loved puppies. That seemed to get her back into her usual daily routine of eating and sleeping. She wasn’t 100% back to being Head Bitch of the house until the fall of that year when I brought home a beagle puppy for her to raise.

    I would suggest spending extra time with Sleeves, maybe going to visit some favorite places. If Sleeves is generally outgoing with other dogs, maybe a trip to the dog park in a week or two would be a good idea, or even a playdate with some new canine friends. I agree that this is a bad time to bring in a new dog, but it might be something to think about in a few months. That depends mostly on the owner and how she feels about it, though.

  8. Debbie says

    I think after the death of a pet, quiet times and gentleness is called for. If I were Cin (and I’ve been in her shoes, and I’m so sorry for loss), I’d stop hiding my grief in front of Sleeves. Let it out. Pet Sleeves, perhaps groom him. There’s healing in touch and they can actually find comfort in each other.

    I’d also think about taking Sleeves on a trip for a few days. A visit to the woods, or a cabin, some place peaceful and just give them both time. The loss due to death is devastating. Even years later (and I know Patricia must feel the same way) the loss of my own heart dog is still painful.

    It’s hard to talk about, isn’t it? My best to Cin, I know I’m not much help but she does have my sincere sympathy.

  9. Rose says

    I don’t have any experience in dog to dog grief as Brutus is an only “child”, although he went through some profound and unusual changes after my husband passed away four years ago. I too, tried to keep my grief somewhat sheltered from my pets but of course if nothing else, they know the routine of life has changed. That entire summer, Brutus would not leave our property to go for a walk, I had to bring him somewhere in the car and then walk him. Eventually, he overcame this but it was months before he did. Also during that time is when he developed a fear of thunderstorms (unfortunately, still a issue today).
    In retrospect, I wonder if his needing to go somewhere for a walk wasn’t in some way, a healing experience for both of us, because it got us out and busy and well exercised. So I concur with the other posters who say, try to resume a predictable routine and definitely a bit more exercise and bonding time. My heart goes out to Sleeve and Cin and I hope as time passes, they can find peace and joy together again!!
    And the tomatoes have me drooling!!! :>)

  10. Steve says

    Too late for this case, but the very 1st thing that helps tremendously is to let all the other animals (ie: dogs and cats) in the family get to sniff the body. Do NOT have them in the room at the time of euthanasia however, bring them in afterwards. We usually do that one at a time. While it doesn’t eliminate the grieving it dramatically reduces the amount of time if they get to see/smell that their pack member isn’t in the body anymore.

  11. Swiss Shepherd says

    We just experienced the loss of a dog in April. She was my heart dog and the anchor in our 3 dog home.
    My 2 other dogs were both clearly lost without her. My advice is also to keep to a routine – and add extra time and walks or whatever activity the remaining dog enjoyed and even try a new one0 dog puzzles come to mind such as those by Nina Ottoson. Most of all I talked to each of the remaining dogs heart to heart. I think they understood – and we carried on with out walks to old haunts and new, we did experience some appetite issues. One day when I was really frustrated because neither dog would eat I sat down and cried. Both dogs came to me looking very worried and I told them they had to eat to stay strong. They each went to their bowls and ate- that was the last time they refused meals and it has been 5 months. We have since added 1 3rd companion a pup and so far so good, Puppy was well received and some form of balance has been restored to the pack, although the oldest dog is still palpably sad some days and then I give her extra attention which helps.

  12. Cin says

    Just a FYI – I did let him sniff the body and say goodbye to both of his sisters after they passed. I think it has just been a huge change for him having them both pass within a months time. He is 13 and arthetic and was diagnosed today with Mitral Valve Disease with volume overload . Basically MVD is a degenerative (aging) change of the mitral valve in the heart. They say it is the most common cardiac disease seen in dogs. They diagnosed this via the echo or ultrasound. Have just been loving him and maintaining his routine although I did take him to visit my Mom’s farm last Saturday.(southwestern Wis.) … he seemed relieved to come back home though. In previous visits to Mom’s farm he has enjoyed it.

  13. says

    We have lost 2 younger dogs in the last few years. Both times I kept the body in the house and Molly, the mother of both, spent a lot of time lying next to them, licking their faces and even occasionally nudging them. Eventually after a day she left the dog’s body and although she seemed quiet and ‘depressed’ acting it was so much better than other experiences I’ve had.

    Another time I had a daughter who was 2 lose the mother she had been raised with but that time I had the body cremated and that night the daughter howled off and on all night…saddest thing I’ve heard.

    Exercise and some long car rides were soothing.

  14. Amy W. says

    My heart breaks for you Cin and Sleeve. You have my sympathy. Perhaps you could try a Thundershirt for Sleeve. The compression feeling from the shirt might be therapeutic for Sleeve. But mostly, I think Sleeve needs to be given the time to adjust and mourn.

  15. Wendy says

    My dogs have always had short times of separation through their lives and when my fist dog died my other dog never changed. I have to admit that the dog that died had been severely demented for the previous year and a half an all I felt at his death was releave. So maybe I made a case for the owner dependent behavioural changes seen in dogs with the passing of an housemate.

  16. says

    There are a lot of things going through my mind with this scenario – the first one is, how long is Sleeves spending alone? If Sleeves has been with his littermates for his entire life, this is a whole new world of being a single dog, and it may be a very lonely one, adding to his grief. Dogs are social animals and if Cin is working, or frequently away from the home Sleeves may be very lost while she is away. Sometimes isolation stress can look a lot like grief as well, so I would definitely monitor the situation for signs of anxiety.

    I would not hide my emotions from Sleeves – Sleeves knows she is sad. Cry when you need to cry, and spend time with Sleeves rather then leaving when upset, since Sleeves is sensing that Cin is upset (which stresses Sleeves), and then Cin is leaving (which can be confusing, adding to the stress). Stress added to stress in my mind.

    A set schedule, a lot of routine and long, quiet walks or playing with the ball together, and cuddling on the couch, training, hiking – solid bonding time doing what Sleeves loves. Sleeves family went from four to two, and Sleeves is alone for the first time in his life, the only dog, and he does not seem like the dog who made the decisions. They need to re-discover happy together, and redefine their family.

    I am not against adding another dog. For a few reasons – first, Sleeves is a dog, and they do well with companionship. If Sleeves enjoys companionship (and it seems like Patches knew Sleeves did) then it may be the best thing to help him heal. And if Sleeves was not the decision maker he may very well be more stressed and confused, unsure what to do and having no lead to follow. I would need to know more about Sleeves but my first thought is do not get a puppy. I would get a similarly aged dog (middle aged/senior), a stable, confident dog to help Sleeves. But if Sleeves is a player and likes to be active, a puppy or a younger may work. This dog is for Sleeves really and Sleeves should have a lot of say in who is added to the family.

    The second reason for adding another dog is if Sleeves and Cin are mourning, sometimes a new family member helps bring joy into the home. Looking at Sleeves Cin is probably feeling sad and guilty, adding to those feelings of grief, which Sleeves is picking up on. With a new family member there is a reason to smile and laugh, and not focus on death, but new starts. And adopting another dog is a great way to honor Patches and Michaela. But Cin cannot rush into something she is not ready for either. I would just let her know that getting another dog is not dishonoring Patches and Michaela, or a sign of moving on, and not caring. It shows that you care enough to give that wonderful home to another dog who needs it.

    I work in a dog rescue that specializes in seniors, and older dogs. This means I deal with a lot of death and mourning, in people and dogs. I have seen the comfort dogs bring to each other, and the struggle dogs have when left alone. But I’ve also seen dogs blossom and become a social butterfly when their companions pass. It is unique to the situation, I’ve seen bonded pairs be separated and thrive, and others deteriorate. My thoughts are with Cin and Sleeves.

  17. Diana Scholl says

    I’m so glad for this discussion as I am preparing (as much as one can) for the death of my heart dog Rosie who is almost 14 and a half. My biggest concern is my papillon Flynn who is a mill rescue. I’ve had him 6 and a half years and he’s hugely rehabbed from the mill (born there; over 4 years as stud dog; horribly shy and fearful of people.) I’ve worked hard with him but it was Rosie (corgi) who really helped him heal–he is totally bonded to her; she is his mama. Over the past year I have been doing more with him independently and with our 3 year old cardigan (Jazz) so Flynn can get used to doing things without Rosie. He still gets stressed terribly if he is separated from her at home but does fine on long walks/hikes with Jazz. I like all the suggestions so far and agree that not hiding our own feelings is the way to go. They know them anyway. I will try to do a home euthanasia and let them sniff–thanks for the advice about coming in afterwards individually. And thanks so much for this timely discussion.

  18. Kerry M. says

    To help with the grief, I’ve done a road trip with my dog. I live a couple of hours away from the Blue Ridge Parkway, so that has become our road trip of choice.

    I liked the break in routine, the short reprieve away from well meaning neighbors, and the chance to just be present with my dog. The first time, I had lost my heart dog and was just heartbroken, and LOVED the opportunity to really focus on the drive and the dog by my side. She was 15 years old at the time, and I’m forever grateful that I had that trip with her while she was still healthy and while we both needed a change of scenery. Then I did the trip again a year and a half later after she passed on, and again, it was a good break that allowed me to deal with the grief without being overwhelmed by it.

  19. Margaret says

    This is so sad and unfortunately so common for us all. Grief is such an intense emotion and I’m sure that dogs too feel it on the loss of one of their companions. When I was a child, our family, lost a beloved dog to bait, her companion and littermate only just surviving. We were advised to get another puppy to help our remaining dog recover as she was at a loss without her companion.
    What I would like to ask is, I understand these were three littermates and there was a truly close bond between all three, so, did any of the dogs ever spend periods of time seperate from each other over their lifetime? Sleeve sounds like he needs time to build up his confidence as an only dog, spending time with Cin, getting out and using his nose, just enjoying life.
    It is a time we all wish never to happen and I do hope Sleeve and Cin find something that helps ease their hearts.

  20. Katy says

    Is there anything in the house that still smells of the other dogs, a bed or a toy? When my Claire-dog was grieving her BFF, she spent all her time on Aina’s bed, which until Aina’s death had definitely been the less desirable bed in Claire’s mind. I think that having something with the other dog’s scent can help.

    I also suspect it is true that like people, each dog grieves in his or her own way. Claire was clearly pretty upset with all of us humans after her BFF passed away, but she still enjoyed spending time with her dog friends and the baby. Lots of long walks with her buddies seemed to help. My male dog, though, hardly even seemed to notice that Aina was not around anymore. So I would want to know what makes Sleeves seem less despondent, if Sleeves enjoys his routine more or enjoys changes to the routine.

    This is something I have been thinking a lot about this summer, as I almost lost my Claire and the whole time she was in the hospital, my male dog was nothing like himself. Frankly, he seemed to just want to be left alone, so that’s what I and our foster dog ended up doing.

  21. Susan says

    I’m very sorry for your loss, Cin. I have only been through the loss of one dog at a time, and that was hard enough. I can’t imagine losing two. I love the idea of a road trip. I have worked with an animal communicator this year during Oscar’s cancer treatment. This is not something a lot of people would consider, but it has been tremendously helpful. She has provided insight and has helped to explain treatment to Oscar. I truly believe he understands her. It’s a far different scenario, I know, but it might help. We are so connected to our animals but cannot always express it. I wish you and Sleeve peace and comfort during these difficult days and months.

  22. JC says

    My heart goes out to Cin and Sleeve. My 10 year old went into a deep depression upon the loss of his 12 year old “sister” with whom he had always lived. In his case, it just took time – to grieve and to heal. We went on lots of walks and focused on other gentle, low-key activities that would allow us to spend quiet time together in familiar surroundings. He seemed very lost without her. It took a couple of months for our new “normal” to evolve, but I’m relieved that my happy boy is now back to his old self.

  23. liz says

    My most delicate condolences. Such overwhelming circumstances, and so I wonder if Cin has done anything special for herself after either loss. Everyone certainly grieves differently, but maybe an afternoon or evening dedicated to going out dancing or to a show or to listen to music would be a welcome break. If Sleeve has another favorite person, maybe he/she could dogsit briefly while Cin is freed to do whatever relieves her worry and sadness. Perhaps Sleeves could be helped indirectly this way… If he has an appetite, looking into the beginning stages of nosework, where dogs locate high value treats in boxes by scent, might be a new, different, low-stress activity they could begin together (giving him a chance to, as another comment mentioned, use his nose and skills in a fun way). Lastly, some kind of memorial might provide an outlet for grief. This could take many forms: planting something in the yard to care for and visit, making or designating something like a blanket to snuggle and share with anyone in grief, or going for a hike and locating a special stone/tree/natural object to both connect to and simultaneously release the lost friends, the lost bond. The hope is that while comfort increases with time, the little things add up and help everyone in subtle ways.

  24. Diane says

    I’m very interested in this heartfelt discussion. My dog, Duffy, and I lost my heart dog, Lily, in May. I still can’t even think about her without tears. What is different about my situation is that Duffy was always very competitive with Lily and would more or less intimidate her whenever possible. She was three when he came into the family so he has always lived with her. He is quite dog aggressive but has never really injured Lily, thankfully, and she learned to give in to him once she became blind. Duffy was there when Lily passed, but just for a short time. I thought he would be elated to be the only dog, when it could be all about him the way he wanted. It does not seem to be so. He doesn’t play with any toys, isn’t really interested in treats that they used to have in the morning together. He still likes to go for walks, which we do every day, but other than that he just sleeps. He used to like to sit on my lap whenever he could but now he just isn’t that interested…..even when I encourage him to do so. He is like a different dog and instead of the two of us being closer, it seems like the opposite is true. I just can’t understand it at all. It’s like losing both dogs.

  25. Mireille says

    First of all I would like to tell Cin how sorry I feel for her. Having lost two dogs in the past year, I know how hard it can be. Feels like life has been turned upside down.
    About the case I would like to know whether Sleeves is still eating well? You described him as devastated, but how ? What has changed in his behaviour? Are there still things he does enjoy? Is reallh behaving differently than before or is he just being his norml quiet self? Of course my views are clouded by my own experience. When our first dog died, Mr Presence and Character himself we suddenly noticed howmp easy life got ( well, yes, and empty) but our other dogs character stood out more, showing the quiet soft dog he reallyw was. I would also like to know what changed in the routine in the house. Does Sleeves still get his execrcise and walks? Does het play with other dogs? I know from experience how difficult it can be just to summon up the energy to keep going with the other dog once you loved a beloved pet. Our second dog died just as we were raising our pups and at the time I just could not find the patience and energy to train them. So I did not, for a couple of weeks. Just giving myself some space to grieve, without guilt helped a lot. That being said, one f the things I felt quite strongly that in loosing a member of the pack, you sort of have to regroup. Find a new balance, one of the ways to do that in my case was to explore new roads together literally. Visit new places together, so you share new experiences between you and the remaining dog. Furthermore, be alert to changed in physical health. In grievinh, the immune system is also down. The week after my first dog died, we were at the vets with the other one who developed his first ever hotspot. Sorry, instead of commenting about the case, I started to tell my own story. Guess it is still to fresh not to want to share, Chenak died a year ago, Janouk last June. Dangerous both to project one’s own grief on a dog and on another person going through something similar. i’m not someone who easily hugs srangers, but I still wish I could give Cin hug..

    Mireille

  26. Don Hudson says

    Wow, what a powerful issue and even more powerful responses, Consistently, everyone has repeated some measures for coping with the loss of their dog. When I read Patricia’s invitation to respond, those same thoughts came to me.

    One thing that occurs to me is the anthropomorphizing, or perhaps it’s not. I think that’s my question. One of my responses is “don’t try to hide your feelings from your dog.” he knows something is different, that something is not right. Human beings talk these things out. What do dogs do? In almost every case, the human is the leader of the pack. What does a pack leader do? However it’s done, the pack leader has to grieve in front of the pack so the pack will continue to know how to behave.

    Letting the other dogs see and visit the body of their friend, one at a time, I think is brilliant. But is that the anthro…problem sticking it’s head up. Ir’s a big deal to me personally. When I was a young boy, 12, my mother died of breast cancer. Fifty years ago that was an even crueler death than it is today. As was the practice at the time, my family didn’t let me see her when she was sickest and when she was about to pass. My family thought they were doing what was right, shielding me from the pain. But that’s not right, even a child needs to say good-bye. I never got that chanve and am all the sadder for it.

    It is our human logic that sees letting the other dogs in the pack say good-bye because it’s what we (humans) will do? Or, is it one of the strings that bonds humans to our animal companions, especially our dogs and cats? And is it,, in fact, just as natural and normal in the grieving process of a dog.

    I hope this is far off but we have two dogs, 9 yrs, and this day will come for us. I don’t like thinking about it but I sure do appreciate the discussion. Thank you Patricia, and all the kind, intelligent rsponders.

  27. Elizabeth2 says

    Mr. Hudson, “Even a child needs to say goodbye”–that brought tears to my eyes.

    Before reading Patricia’s work I didn’t know that it can be valuable to the surviving animals (both dogs and cats) to spend time with the body of the beloved lost one. Intuitively, it did feel wrong, that the survivors were confronted with inexplicable, absolute disappearance–the euthanized one brought home from the vet’s and buried on our land). I wish I had honored that intuition and had been original and brave (in the sense of departing from convention) enough to have brought the body into our home and let the sorrowing four-legged ones spend time with it.

    I’m really curious whether there might be some actual physiological impact on the surviving dog arising from the recognition of death as a reality differing from abandonment or departure. Some research (for instance Bowlby’s) traces the immobilizing aspect of grief in humans to the evolutionary advantage of offspring who, when a parent disappeared, simply stayed put, and could therefore be located by the parent on her return. If some survival advantage also accrued to juvenile canids who stayed put when a parent disappeared, and if immobilization was no advantage at all (perhaps the opposite) if the parent was killed, could there have been an evolutionary edge for dogs in recognizing the difference? Could this recognition translate into different neurochemical changes? Of course whatever the neurochemistry, the grief is heart-rending.

  28. Mireille says

    When Chenak was euthanized at the vets Janouk was there. The moment Chenak died he did not want anything to do with him, ehh, it? Judging from his reaction, that thing on the ground had nothing to do with his life.ong dog- brother. They had lived together for ten years and had never spent a day apart. Janouk never looked back – literally and has not looked for Chenak. He was actually doing quite fine, except for developing an infection in the first week up untill the point we went on holliday without him. He went to stay at the breeders, alace he knew and with dogs he knew, but after that he started howling at night and being very cuddly. We brought tow new pups in the house. He used to love puppies but he was nt all too pleased with having them around. I am not sure we made the right choice, but with hindsight it is very difficult to interpret exactly what happened. Despite all our efforts to give him plenty of attention, he started to withdraw from us and the pups. Then he went off his food. Vet thought he had eaten something that was causing a pseudo obstruction, but to make a long story short, it turned out he had a tumor of the small intestine. It musthave been bothering him a longer time, so that might also have been the reason for his withdrawal
    Mireille

  29. Debbie says

    When I had three male dogs (now it’s three female dogs), when we came home from our trip to the vet without Augie, the other two sniffed around my legs and walked away. A few years later, my yellow lab died unexpectedly at the vet and when I came home alone, Buddy (German wirehair) sniffed me for about ten minutes and, I swear, looked at me with utter disgust and walked away.

    Can dogs show disgust? I know I saw disgust in his face.

    This is such a sad topic, isn’t it? You think you get over the loss, but you don’t, you just get used to the hole.

  30. Susan says

    We’re dealing with a similar situation. We raised two litter-mates (lab-pointer mixes) together and lost Molly on Friday 8/24 to hemangiosarcoma. We had her euthanized at home, and offered to have her sister, Jolene, and our other dog, come inside afterwards to visit, but neither approached Molly, not realizing that she wasn’t just sleeping on her bed. We didn’t want to force her, especially not knowing if it was the right thing to do, but I think we removed the body too quickly. In our own human way, we were rushing to take care of Molly after her death. I wish I had read about this before we had her euthanized.

    Jolene has been quiet and lacking in appetite since then (it’s been less than 48 hours), but we all have been quite sad. Jolene was always the instigator of shenanigans, but shenanigans aren’t as fun without a sidekick. My husband found her wandering around in the road (we live in the country), and he felt that she was looking for her sister.

    We adopted a third dog about 3 years ago, Madison, but she’s never been part of the “sister pack” – she’s sort of like Rudolf the Red nosed reindeer, she wasn’t ever invited to play their games and go on their adventures. I’m not sure that this will change that relationship. They’re pretty much indifferent to each other.

    I took Jolene to run errands yesterday (getting new collars, tags and treats). We went to the dog park today, and Jolene had a good time – but it’s certainly a different dynamic. Molly was always the dog to check on Jolene and then check on us. She was sort of the glue that kept us together.

    I’m hoping that with time we’ll all heal, but I regret not allowing Molly’s body to stay inside a little longer, for Jolene to realize that she was no longer here.

  31. Caroline says

    This is very interesting for me to hear of dogs grieving. This has not been my experience. I have been lucky that my three dogs who have died have all died at home (on a Tuesday). So the remaining dogs have all had the opportunity to smell/experience the body. None were impressed. I kind of assumed they just accepted death as another state and accepted that that body was not their friend any longer. The only time Malia reacted to Tux’s body was when we were not able to get him in the ground until the next day and he had developed a slight odor.

    There has definitely been an adjustment period for Malia–to being an only dog. She has become a little more clingy and possessive of me. When she came here she had two big brothers. Now it is just her (for a year and for just a little longer). I am curious how she is going to react to having a brother again—a competitor for my attention but a playmate for her.

  32. Laura says

    I’m so sorry for your loss.
    All of the suggestions to let the other dogs see the body after death are great. I let my last guide, Torpedo, come in and sniff the body of my first guide, Marlin, after he’d passed. Torp took one sniff and then went for the treats on the floor. After we got home, he didn’t seem to be effected by the loss of Marlin and that was fine for me. I didn’t expect him to grieve any particular way. Also, though I understand the intent behind allowing the dogs to see their human grieving, I also understand the opposite and the desire to hide your grief. When Marlin had to retire, I cried for weeks. I cried so much I was actually sick of crying even though I couldn’t stop. I wanted so much to hide it from Marlin as he was still living with me at the time and would continue to do so. I didn’t know if my grieving at something that I wasn’t sure if he understood was good for him to see. I cried in the car, I went outside and cried, but yes, there were times I would hold him and sob. For him, he simply wasn’t working anymore. For me, I was breaking a bond we’d had since the day we’d met. I couldn’t explain to him, or to any person how that felt and people really didn’t understand. They’d say things like, oh, he’s still alive and with you, so don’t be sad. I didn’t understand why they couldn’t just let me grieve and heal on my own terms, the way I needed to. So I’d say to Cin, you feel how ever you need to, do what ever you need to so you and your dogs can heal and move forward. Take as much time as you need. For me, it took almost 2 years to grieve completely, and I still miss my Marlin everyday. Here’s a cyber hug from me and lab/golden wiggles from Seamus.

  33. says

    Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I’m not sure if the dogs actually grieve or if they have difficulty with change. I had a Jack Russell who was my late husband’s best friend; when my husband died, I got another JR to keep Bandit company because I was away at work every day. You could say that Bandit grieved my husband but he came to life again very quickly with the addition of a new friend. When Bandit died, the second JR moped until I got Dewey, another JR, of course, and once again, she perked right up. When Twice, the second JR died at home, Dewey quit eating, became very clingy and was losing a lot of weight. Mourning? I honestly think he was just lonesome. I should have told him to be careful what he wished for, because, sick of having extra dogs floating around the house without bodies, I decided to get a non-shedder and actually bought a dog – a standard poodle. It didn’t take Dewey long to gain weight again, because he was determined to eat all the food before the poodle could get it. It seems to be his only way of asserting control when the other one treats him a little like a squeaky toy.
    Before this gets too long, I’ll just summarize by saying that I’ve had a lot of dogs and a lot of losses. A dog who is part of a pair will be unhappy when his friend dies, but that unhappiness is short-lived when you introduce another friend. You see far less unhappiness when you have three or more dogs. Of course, that doesn’t make it any easier for us to deal with the loss of our friend!

  34. Leda says

    I turn to the homeopathic remedy called Ignacia Amarata. My spelling may not be absolutely correct but it is close enough to find it in a store that sells homeopathy. I grind the small OTC remedy between two spoons because touching it may cause it to not work. It is mostly sugar. Usually only part of it lands on their tongue. I use it as needed by observation. It does not affect other medications. I find it works in about 15 minutes and the dog that is left behind seems to not need it after 2-4 weeks. It usually costs less than $10.

    We lost one Italian Greyhound a couple of months ago. The other came from a puppy mill being tortured for 3 years since he was the stud. I had a really good Aussie who loved being a wonderful “auntie” and I say that she taught Jack-Jack to be a dog and Buddy taught him to be a Italian Greyhound. Jack-Jack took Buddy’s death pretty hard.

  35. em says

    Good luck at the field trial!

    On the topic of dog grief, I’m afraid I don’t have much first-hand experience to offer. The closest I can come is the time I dog-sat Sandy for a week while her former owner was away (we adopted her for good when her owner had to move six months later). It seemed like Otis had only barely gotten comfortable with her, but when she went back home, he moped around the house for two weeks. He came with us to drop her off, so it’s not like she just vanished, and she was perfectly happy and safe at home, so it’s not like we humans were grieving, but he was clingy and subdued and reluctant to eat- clearly upset that she was gone. I shudder to think how he’d react now, when we are all so completely bonded to her.

    Like so many others, I’d advise Cin against trying to conceal her feelings- hard as it is on a dog to cope with a human’s pain and sadness (and it may be difficult to separate Sleeves’ own feelings about the loss of his companions from his reaction to Cin’s grief), attempts at concealment may read as deception and only worsen his insecurity. That said, I’d say that the thing to do is to stick to routine as much as possible, with the possible exception of adding more “field trips” to explore relaxing and interesting places that are not associated with his lost companions. This will be a good distraction for both Cin and Sleeves, and give them a chance for some more intense one-on-one bonding.

    I’m in the “not right away” camp as far as a new canine companion is concerned, but I think the limiting factor is Cin, not Sleeves. It’s hard on a new dog to come into a household that is still grieving, and may interfere in Cin’s ability to bond with the newcomer. When and if she is ready for a new dog, a well-suited companion may do Sleeves a great deal of good.

  36. says

    Whoa, that is a lot of loss in a short period of time. Losing your heart dog… and poor Sleeve–he lost his family, his pack.

    I do find it difficult to assess what people say about dog emotion, attributing human emotions to dogs. For sure dogs will match our energy, and where we are what we feel at the moment.

    Overall I have found dogs to be very much in the moment of things and not lingering on what happened yesterday. But Sleeve lost so much, what a change.

    I would recommend not isolate the dog when Cin cries or has times of intense grief, basically to not isolate Sleeve at all. I think they need each other. At the same time I would be sure to not say, “Do you miss Patch, where is he, I know you miss him don’t you…etc” A matter of fact I would never say Patch’s name and I would ask friends to not say his name for months. If the dogs had other dog friends I would absolutely invite them over, and try to create a new supporting family for him. Finally, I would (and i do understand that Cin might not be up for that so soon) bring in a foster puppy. Doing things in a time of grief, doesn’t make it go away, but it gives us space in between. Also it would start a new rhythm for Cin and Sleeve, and puppies bring joy and laughter. The dogs look like herding dogs, so it would give Sleeve something to do. Maybe even a couple foster cats if Sleeve likes cats–just to give him a job.

  37. Beth with the Corgis says

    I have one dog who showed all the signs of “grieving” when my husband briefly worked second shift. He refused to go on walks without being dragged, was not sure about playing, etc. He was used to us all being together in the evening, and the change in routine upset him.

    Similarly, I can take my other dog on a walk by herself if we set out alone and she knows we are doing special training work or something. But if I try to walk her at her normal time and either my husband OR the other dog is missing she balks and pouts, does not look around, ignores other dogs, doesn’t sniff, and keeps her ears at “sad ears” position the entire walk. Things are Different and that’s Wrong. If I go out with her and the other dog at a time when my husband normally would not be with us (in mid-afternoon on a day off work, for instance) she’s her normal cheerful self.

    I do believe dogs and cats and horses and all social animals are capable of some level of grief, but I guess I fall in the camp that I think the extended “mourning” is actually a dog so stressed by the change in routine that he does not know how to behave. I think this is especially likely with submissive dogs who are used to taking the lead from someone else.

    I think that an activity the dog loves that previously was done without the missed companion can help, as can small changes in routine (for dogs who are not frightened by change) just to take away the reminders. For dogs who have always lived with other dogs, a new companion can help as well.

  38. says

    I certainly could have used some advice on this topic a few years ago when my shepherd mix (Miss Winston) passed. My young aussie (Ric) appeared depressed for close to a year afterwards even though he seemed to be closer to my older aussie (Raven). He continued to “do stuff” with me, but he had no gusto and didn’t act like he was having any fun. He’d rather lie on the floor than engage in a game with me. I did get a 5 month old Aussie pup about 5 months after Winston died, but it still took several more months for Ric to come around to his happy self. Now Ric & Banner are best buddies. Raven will be 13 next week, so I’m hoping to glean some good info from this thread that will come in handy in a few years.

  39. Kat says

    I’ve been thinking about this for awhile now wondering what my experiences can add to the discussion. When we adopted Ranger he was grieving. He’d been surrendered to the Humane Society due to the death of his previous owner. It was heartbreaking watching him yearn after white vans when we were walking. I never tried to deny him his right to grieve, and one horrible night I stayed up with him all night just being there for him. If I can anthropomorphize since I don’t know any other way to describe it, that was the night he let go of his old life and embraced the new.

    The next time Ranger was grieving it was for the loss of his best canine friend. There’s really no way to explain to a dog that his friend has moved away and won’t be back. Again, we accepted his right to grieve and the nearly daily trips to his friend’s old house. It took nearly a year before he gave up waiting for his friend to come back. We tried to give him opportunities to make new friends and to experience new things and he did clearly enjoy that but he still missed his friend and kept looking for him.

    When the senior cat died, I figured it might help Ranger if I gave him a chance to smell the body. One comprehensive sniff and that was that. The two had never been especially close although Ranger had always looked out for the cat, keeping an eye on him when this indoor cat got outside, and helping us find the cat as he got more demented and stuck in odd places (near the end the cat couldn’t seem to back up so if he got in a corner behind something he couldn’t get out on his own). Ranger also ceded his bed to the cat which was amusing as the 11lb cat slept in the center of the 90 lb dog’s bed and the dog slept on the floor next to the bed. The death of the cat seemed to leave no hole in Ranger’s life and except for his efforts to comfort my daughter whose cat it was (she’d had the cat since she was a year old) I’d have said he didn’t even notice the cat dying.

    My heart goes out to Cin and Sleeves. I guess my advice, for whatever it might be worth, is to not be afraid to share the grief each is feeling. Grieving together can be beneficial. And to think about what things Sleeves likes best, whether learning new things, playing fetch, being groomed, car rides, whatever his favorite thing has been and to do that together in new ways. If he likes car rides, take him new places. If it’s grooming try a different kind of brush. And finally, to listen to Sleeves. He knows what helps him and perhaps in helping him Cin will be helping herself.

  40. Angel says

    I’m so sorry to hear about Cin and Sleeve’s losses. My sympathy to both of them.

    I’ve never lost a pet as an adult, and my heart aches just thinking about it. So I speak not from experience, but from what my heart and instinct tell me.

    Cin said that Patch “took care of everyone”. So I would say Sleeve will especially need his routines and everything possible to stay the same. Maybe extra outings and a day or weekend trip after a few weeks have passed, especially if Sleeves doesn’t seem to be taking joy from life. Get him out and do something really fun together, that you know he loves or that is new for him. No new dogs or other big changes.

    I would say that it is ok for Cin to grieve in front of Sleeves. I think it would be healthy and cathartic for both of them. Not anything that will panic or scare him, like outright sobbing uncontrollably. But sitting or laying with him crying and grieving together, yes.

    I would ask Cin if Patch was sick or had declining health for a period of time, or if her passing was sudden. And if Sleeves had gotten a chance to say good-bye, to see his friend after Patch had died.

    Anthrpomorphic as it may be, I would tend to treat it as I would if a person had suffered a loss. Keep routines the same, no big changes or decisions. Take care of yourself. Routines the same, yes. But if ice cream (or liver treats or wet dog food) make you feel better in that moment, then indulge in those things. After some time has passed, try to get back to enjoying life – go for walks, go for a fun trip, do something new. And judge it all based on Sleeves reactions.

    I look forward to reading everyone else’s responses and yours, Trisha.

  41. Donna in VA says

    I don’t have much first-hand experience with this either. However the comment that Patch was always in charge and always active leads me to think that Sleeve is looking for someone to tell her what to do, when to do it. Cin is going to have to fill that role for now until a new “normal” is established. I would suggest (like many others) lots of gentle together time, long walks, find-the-treat games, chewy things and mental exercise such as learning new tricks. Having a house guest or friends come to visit or taking some day trips would also be a good diversion.

    When we adopted our cat in October, she seemed fine the first week. However the 2nd week, she “shut down” and we had to hand-feed her and drag her out from her hiding place under the chair. She was in the house 6 weeks before she ever ventured out of the basement on her own. At the shelter, they had to give her anti-depressants to keep her eating but we were able to avoid this. Time was the big factor, she had to adjust to the change in environments. First from her home to the shelter (she was there about 4 or 6 weeks als0), then from the shelter to our home.

  42. Mireille says

    Wouldn’t it be logical to expect dogs to differ in their reaction to the loss of a pack member? I think dogs can grieve about the loss of another dog but they will differ in how they cope. I mean even humans differ in that. My partner and I were both hit hard by the loss of our first dog but we expressed grief different and dealt with it differently. I found it hard to read his state of mind, just as I found it hard to read my dogs state of mind. Well, luckily both kept eating well…

    Speaking about eating, each time I see those tomato pics I start drooling…

    Mireille

  43. Beth with the Corgis says

    I find it interesting that there seems to be an almost even split between “have him do something new” and “don’t change anything!” in the responses.

    My own thinking behind change the routines slightly is that in any situation where I experienced a loss, the WORST thing was facing things I had enjoyed with the other person, and not having that person there. It is just nice to do something different that is not a constant reminder of the piece that is missing. If someone dies, or you lose a friend or relationship to a move or divorce, I think the most painful moments are when you go off to do something that you formerly did with that other person.

    If nothing in the routine changes, then every single facet of every single day is just one more reminder that someone who did these things with you is now gone. In fact, I have read that when service dogs retire, they sometimes take it so poorly that they go into a deep depression, and when that happens it is often recommended that the dog be rehomed. It sounds counterintuitive, but it is the constant seeing of the other dog doing the work that is the problem, more so than the lack of the work itself.

    Are there an psychologists among us? It would be interesting to hear that perspective.

  44. Lisa W says

    I am so sorry for your loss, and I do know how hard it is on both the human and the dog.

    Our previous pair of dogs were truly inseparable. Grace was a very young shepherd mix from the Humane Society who was malnourished and scared when we brought her home. Ester was a 4-year-old golden who was happy, secure, and loved having a new best friend. They bonded immediately and did everything together; if I took Grace for a ride to the store by herself, she would whine until we got back home to Ester (that lessened as she got older and more confident and we did a few more things separately). Ester would herd Grace back if she got too far out of sight on hikes and Grace would put herself between Ester and a strange dog or person until it was determined if things were cool. They were sympatico.

    When Ester died at the age of 12, Grace was beside herself. We have been fortunate (in the ironic sense) to have had vets who will come to the house to perform euthanasia on our dogs over the years. Grace was in the room as we said goodbye to Ester and watched as she passed away. Grace got a terrified look on her face as we carried Ester wrapped in a blanket out of the house. She would not go near that vet for a very long time and mourned Ester for the rest of her life. She lived to be 15, and while she became even more devoted to us and had a very good life, it was never the same for her. Grace lost the first true thing she could rely on.

    My advice to Cin would be to trust your instincts in terms of how you can help Sleeve and yourself get through this terrible time. You know what your dog needs and as hard as it might be right now, I find that listening to my dogs through their responses to things or their body language is usually the best guide to knowing what to do or not to do for them. I also know that Sleeve and Cin will never be the same and it might not fully pass for Sleeve. One thing we did was walk in all of Ester’s favorite places. The first few times we did this, Grace seemed to be looking for Ester (our emotional interpretation?) but after doing this for a while, it did seem to help Grace realize that we left without Ester and we went home without Ester. That was not our intent, we just all missed Ester terribly and wanted to remember our fun and beautiful walks in the woods or the lake, but it did seem to help Grace realize things had changed. Again, very sorry.

  45. Leslie V says

    My sympathies to Cin and Sleeve on loosing two beautiful friends. Having experienced loss of dogs, cats and horse over the years, I know this part of our journeys together never, ever gets any easier. This particular topic really has me thinking about how my views have changed over the years. I believe that all creatures feel some form of loss and grief. Because we are not able to quantify the process for other species does not mean it doesn’t exist. Social creatures require and seek social stimulus. When that is taken away for whatever reason, it affects us (man, dog, horse….) both emotionally and physically.

    I have had both situations – some were able to see the passing and spend time with the body, others did not experience the passing. Our sweet Harley had lung cancer, was weakening and we were facing “the decision” when he passed in the night. He was in the bedroom in his bed at the time. In the morning when I discovered him gone, our other dog Tucker was very reluctant and seemed apologetic, for lack of better description, to come past Harley. I had to tell him it was OK and encouraged him to sniff and spend time. Tuck never seemed particularly affected but I definitely noticed an even deeper bond develop between he and I. He sought me out more and “softened” in his personality. He was always a very sweet dog but become even more sensitive to how others were feeling and responded accordingly.

    When we felt ready, we adopted Hudson, who had spent the first 6 months of his life at the shelter. He had issues to overcome and we worked through them. Tucker seemed to sense this as well and was very good with him, though Tuck was definitely the dominant dog of the two. Fast forward to last year. Tuck had ACL surgery and it was discovered he had a bad heart. We lost him 24 hours after the procedure and Hudson was there when it happened. Hudson was visibly upset, sniffing and whining and trying to get his “brother” to wake up and play. And I do believe Hudson grieved along with the rest of us. Tucker passed late in the evening so we left him in the kitchen until the morning when we buried him. We put his favorite bone by him and Hudson, who loved nothing better than stealing a toy from his brother, would have nothing to do with it. And although Hudson did not seem particularly interested or concerned when we laid Tucker to final rest, he was much subdued for several weeks after. Until we brought Daisy home……

    The grieving process is unique for each person and I feel that animals would be no different. So many factors go into how we process and handle the emotion of loss and grief. Dogs are very resilient and I believe bringing in another can help the dog who has just lost a mate. However, the person/people also have to be ready to open their hearts to the healing that a new dog can bring. And each individual knows best when that time will be. In the mean time, maintaining the routine the dog is comfortable with and spending extra time will help not only the dog, but the person as well. There is a certain balm to our ordinary, daily routines.

    Sharing this and reading through it, also brings up a question from me. Would Hudson’s early development in the shelter situation – 6 months in a kennel with only his siblings and the last pup to be adopted – subsequently affect or shape his reaction to loosing Tucker, who with, he ultimately formed a long term social bond?

  46. LunaGrace says

    My deepest condolences to Cin & Sleeves. It is so difficult to lose a family member, whether 2 footed or 4 footed. The hole in the heart never really heals, one just learns to live with the scar.
    I try not to anthopomorphize human thoughts and feelings on my pets; but do observe their behaviors and relate it to what I know — which are human thoughts, feelings, and reactions.
    The first time I observed a pet experiencing loss was in my daughter’s Border Collie when my daughter enlisted and had to attend boot camp. The dog had been my daughter’s best friend from age 8 through age 21 but the care of her dog was now my responsibility and the first thing I noticed was that the dog had cut WAY back on eating. I wasn’t too terribly concerned as it was hot summer and none of the humans or critters was really eating much. But then I noticed that the dog was “moping” around …. her jaunty trot was now a slow, dragging trudge and she did a lot of sitting and lying on the front porch, gazing down the driveway (expectantly?) and heaving great sighs rather than breathing normally. I would have said the dog was feeling “blue” or depressed. And the over-the-moon excitement the dog exhibited when my daughter returned, briefly, before going into A school, was absolutely unmistakable. Not knowing how to explain to the dog that her best friend would be leaving and returning multiple times, I spent more Special Time with her although it was pretty obvious I was a poor substitute for my daughter.
    The next loss came when my very first cat (I’m a Dog Person, so I didn’t actually have a cat until he adopted me 16 years ago) succumbed to his cancer. He was an indoor-outdoor cat; a barn cat who learned to enjoy being indoors, or an indoor cat who couldn’t be “fenced in”. He’d been sleeping more and more and I knew he was nearing the end. One night, he didn’t come home to sleep on my bed. So the next morning, I put the tracking harness on my young dog, Yogi, and told him we had to “Find Slash!” and off we went, sniffing around the house in ever-widening circles until we stumbled across Slash’s cold little body. Yogi sniffed Slash several times, nudged him once, and then seemed satisfied that “things were as they should be”. While I went back into the house to get a towel to wrap Slash in for burial, my second cat, Bailey, came out of the house, went over to Slash, and very delicately and thoroughly sniffed Slash from nose to tail. Again, she seemed to satisfy herself and went back into the house. Over the next few months, I noticed that Bailey seemed a little more subdued than she had been; seldom as playful nor for as long in duration as she had been previously. She became more “clingy” with me for several months and I was happy to have her on my lap more frequently. I think we both mourned Slash’s passing together in our own ways and for our own appropriate length of time. I did not notice any change in Yogi’s behaviour.
    Just a year later, I had to euthanize my old, old Siberian Husky, Powder. She was unable to walk and was too heavy for me to pick up so the vet came to my home and euthanized her in the kennel pen where she loved to be. Yogi was in the house while this was taking place but I allowed him to come into the pen after the vet had left and, again, satisfy himself as to what had happened with Powder. This was not unexpected, so I had planned a driving trip to visit my son, 14 hours away as soon as I had buried Powder. Yogi and I were on the road for nearly 2 weeks together so we re-arranged our family dynamics during that trip, which was a good thing for both of us as we became much more attuned to each other from then on.
    The last “loss” really wasn’t. I put Bailey in her crate for a scheduled trip to the vet but ended up having to leave her overnight. When I got home, I let Yogi out of the kennel pen to come in the house with me. He very purposefully went over to the car and looked at it/in it, then looked back at me — GLARED at me! —- and then immediately became very upset and agitated, acting like he was angry with me! Not making eye contact, not wanting to come in the house with me, and staying away from me. I was totally mystified until I realized he expected Bailey and her crate to re-appear out of the car when we returned home. I don’t know, will never know, what he was thinking had happened to Bailey (one of those times when you WISH they could talk!) but it was very clear that he had expectations and they obviously included the return of Bailey.
    The emotion of grief and depth grieving seems to be individual. Both in humans and in other species. And I think that experiencing these feelings depends not only on the individual but also on the relationship the indivduals had with each other. I also believe that we share our lives with Companion Animals for the very companionship that they provide to us (and we to them) through all emotional experiences, and to withhold the sharing of emotions is a disservice to both. I cannot guess if dogs (cats, horses, etc) feel vulnerable and fragile like humans do when there is a loss, but they do definitely behave as if they feel something. And they seem to need to receive comfort as much as benefit from providing it.

  47. Laura says

    At Beth with the corgis,
    I can only give you my perspective on my own retired service dogs, but it depends on the dog. Some miss their job terribly and can’t understand why you’ve done this thing to them, robbing them of their job. This most often happens when it’s a sudden retirement for a medical issue usually. These are the hardest retirements because both of you still want to do the job. The dog gets used to not working, but yes, most times, if the dog is behaiving in a way that would effect your relationship with your successor dog, rehoming the retired dog canbe very helpful. My second, Torpedo, was relieved to be done working. He had a good career, 6 years, but his thunder fears and other anxiety just finally wore him down. I couldn’t keep him, not here, not in the midwest were summer storms are so loud and common and soit was the fairest thing to send him back to california where there are not as many storms. I could feel the relief coming from him when we saw each other again and it helped heal my heart and helped me to bond more deeply with Seamus. I grieved differentlly as well with each dog. With Marlin, someone just ripped my heart out and stomped all over it. Like I said above, I cried for weeks and it took a long time toheal, but with Torpedo, itwas a relief in a way because he was so stressed by everything that all I wanted for him was peace. Now, and I just talkedwith his raiser today, he’s too busy sunning himself to be anxious. Of course I miss him, I miss both my yellow beasts sometimes, butI know I made the right decisions for both of them and I’m happy about that. I appologize for the length of the post. Icould goon all day about my wonderful dogs, but I’m looking forward to Tricia’s answers and comments to all of us.

  48. Becky says

    I have also been through this. It’s brutal, no question. Yes, be kind and gentle. Yes, keep it low key. But I have to say that I actually “talked” to Bailey. Told her that her buddy was happy, out of pain, and that we had to prop each other up for a bit, that I’d lost my parents and it hurts still, years later, but it does in fact, get better. OK, so I’m a nut. But I honestly think Bailey understood me. I took her to the beach – which for us is quite a long drive, 2 1/2 hrs. She had not been to this beach before. I bought her a deli sandwich – again, not something a Beagle gets to eat on a regular basis. I made sure we both ran hard in the waves, me crying and her lifting her tail higher and higher as the day went on. Of course, the wag I got with the deli sandwich was outstanding! We played HARD!
    She slept all the way home. No doggie head out the window – so I know she was tired.
    It seemed to break the “grieving pattern” for us both. It wasn’t exactly a cure-all, but I know it helped – BOTH OF US.
    When I look back, I realize I gave us both alot of physical activity, with lots of quiet time around that, and if my memory serves, in about month Bailey started being Bailey again, although much more attuned to me than before….

  49. JJ says

    Off topic: When I read the bold words, “Tootsie is in heaven”, my heart stopped and I couldn’t make my eyes read any more. Finally I read a bit more and realized that it didn’t mean what I thought it meant. Thank goodness. Maybe the topic of death had my mind “going there.”

    I’m glad Tootsie’s so happy!

    When my dog and I go walking in a filbert grove, my dog likes to eat the nuts. As you say, it is not good for them to eat too, too much ground harvest. I have a heck of a time, though, getting my dog to stop. Usually we just have to walk in a different place during nut season.

  50. Trisha says

    To JJ: Eeeps! So sorry, I should have thought about how that could be (mis)interpreted. Tootsie and I send oxytocin and apologies.

  51. Beth with the Corgis says

    Thank you, Laura, for sharing your experience. I can imagine it is difficult for both dog and human to end a working partnership if they really clicked. And I can understand why it’s easier sometimes for the dog to just move on to a new situation without the constant triggers for old behaviors that are no longer required. It is a true act of love to let a dog move on to someplace where he can relax and be happy, when he’s provided you so many years of loyal service.

  52. JJ says

    No apologies necessary at all. I just thought I would share. It’s funny now.

    There really was nothing wrong with what you wrote. I just have a weird mind I think.

    Thanks for the reply.

  53. LarryC says

    Poor Sleeves has lost his pack. He has always been one of three dogs, and now he is alone. If he doesn’t get a replacement pack, the adjustment will be long and difficult.

  54. says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this topic.

    We just put our Collie, Cheyenne, to sleep yesterday evening. My Husband, Mother-in-Law, and I were away for a funeral. When we came home, our old girl got up, went out the door to pee, and had, what we think was, a massive stroke on our front lawn. Our white German Shepherd, Finn, never saw her as we didn’t get a chance to un-kennel him before she went down. We just threw our luggage in the front hallway, grabbed her paperwork and her, and went to the vet. She went peacefully across the Rainbow Bridge. This is my very first time ever having a multiple dog household and the first time I’ve ever had to put a dog down. I had to put one of our beloved cats down last year, which was an absolute disaster. Thankfully this went much better.

    I’m worried about Finn. I wish we would’ve stopped rushing long enough so that he could say goodbye, but we wanted to make sure our girl was taken care of immediately. I am a first time dog handler; he is training for SAR, and I’m closer to him than I’ve been to any dog I’ve ever had. I can tell there’s a dramatic difference in him and I just don’t know what to do; we are still greiving our family member, now our princess is gone. This post has given me somewhere to go from here; I have a plan of action to make this easier for all of us.

    To Cin and Sleeves: My heart goes out to you two as well as my sympathies. Long distance hugs and belly rubs are coming your way.

  55. juliette says

    This sharing has been tremendous for me to read. I lost my first Golden, Goldie, last March when she had just turned 3. We watched her die slowly of an unknown cause….4 vets, so many tests, nothing ever showed up other than a high white blood count. Anyway, we have her little sister who had just turned 1. While Goldie was sick Willow often would lay by her side, attentive but soft. She and I were a mess. We had to put down Goldie right before we left on a trip…she was so bad we didn’t know what else to do after 3 months of her going downhill. Willow got to go to our pet sitters house; she has a Corgi/Chihuahua mix who is 2. The two of them got along famously. She took the dogs everywhere with her. When we arrived home, Willow followed my every move. My daughter had made me a photo album of Goldie…..I was crying hysterically and Willow was laying on my feet. Upon our return Willow and I went everywhere together…I needed her and she needed me. By June we got a new puppy. I brought him around to our backyard and then went into the house to get Willow. I held on to Willow so we wouldn’t frighten the pup with too much exuberance…..no dice. Willow broke free and was so happy to see her new brother! They love each other so much……..he’s an English Shepherd who will do anything for his Willow. She has been a happy girl ever since. I know having two dogs again we will face the same situation. This is a wonderful place to gather wonderful ideas from people who love their dogs. Thank you and my true sympathy to all who have had to go through this.

  56. dody says

    My dog Abby is acting out after our other dog Desi’s very unexpected death, now more than six weeks ago. At first Abby didn’t seem overly affected, maybe a little down in the dumps, and when we’re outside she is pretty much normal.

    However, in the house she has become very needy, barky, doesn’t want to leave me even when my husband is calling her for a walk or food, I guess just generally more anxious. She never minded being left at home when Desi was alive, but now she’ll run even from her dinner bowl to try to come with me if she suspects I’m going out. I’ve been taking her with me more often, but I can’t always do that. She has the company of other dogs almost every day, and gets along well with our cats, including grooming and cuddling each other, but she is clearly a changed dog.

    We are in the process of adopting another cocker, which I hope will help Abby, but any suggestions in the meantime will be appreciated.

  57. Serina says

    I put to sleep, my pit-bull, Joe, in June. We lost the battle to cancer. Maggie, a Kelpie, loves Joe, they were both about the same age (1 1/2 yrs) when I adopted them. Maggie buried Joe’s last favorite treat on the bed of roses for him and kept it buried until her new brother, Henri (1 yr old APBT) join the family a month later. With Henri around, Maggie is not as depressed. She takes time to adjust to the routines she always had with Joe. Henri, still a puppy, kept her busy by nudging her to play with him. I’m glad I adopted Henri sooner than later, I want to do it right for Maggie’s grief than my own. Maggie is a sweetheart, I know she loves and missed Joe as much as I do.

  58. Stacie says

    I was just wondering how Cin and Sleeves are doing now? It has been a few months since this blog was written and I was wondering how they are coping? Did Cin get another dog?

  59. Cathie says

    This forum makes sad but informative reading. So many people sharing the same sadness and concern for their surviving friend. On 19 October, we lost one of our twin Shih Tzus, Tike, just a day shy of her fourteenth birthday. She had congestive heart disease and her eyesight had suddenly declined over the last several weeks. We found her in the swimming pool. It was terrible, but I think Tike was the lucky one as she never had a day’s loneliness and went just as life was losing its sparkle.

    That leaves her twin sister Spike who is lying on the beanbag beside me. I am very concerned about Spike’s reaction though so far she is eating OK. Their temperaments were quite different – Tike venturesome, the leader and a real character. Spike the cuddly one and a total cutie but also beat the pants of Tike in their earlier playfights. I always thought Tike would cope better if she survived Spike, but it didn’t happen that way. So we’re heaping cuddles and attention on Spike and hoping that it will help that she just loves human contact.

    Here’s hoping.

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