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.