Do dogs grieve?


Dogs are man’s best friends and love them till the end of their lives. Hachiko, an Akita in Japan, is remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his pet parent. Even after his pet parent’s death, Hachiko waited for him at Shibuya Railway Station for nine years, hoping that he will be back again one day to greet him like other days. Hachiko definitely grieved for his pet parent. Here’s how we can help our tailwaggers to cope with loss.
Captain, a German Shepherd in Argentina, has been living near the grave of his pet parent Miguel Guzman who died in 2006. What’s even more surprising is that Captain was never taken to Miguel’s grave by his family…he turned up at the cemetery one day and wandered around until he found his master’s grave. Even though his family has tried to take him back home several times, Captain rushes back to the cemetery. Dogs do show signs of loss and mourning. Since their world is their master, they can really suffer pain and agony. Caroline Mahendrasingh from Madurai shares, “My German Shepherd dog Rocky spent his first two years of life very close with my dad. When my dad passed away, we forbid him from seeing him. But he howled in his kennel and for a year he used to chase any white cars furiously as my father last went to the hospital in a white car.”
Bond of love!
“A few days back, a middle-aged person passed away in our apartment. Our two stray guardian dogs – Dolly & Chotu are loved and cared by all of us. This particular person used to pat them every morning while going to office. That day, Dolly and Chotu did not touch food; while Dolly became silent, Chotu showed restless behaviour,” said Rishi Dev from Dwarka, New Delhi.
Break-up pain
The extent of the distress is directly related to strength of physical and emotional attachment of the animal to the pet parent. So the emotional pain our pooches feel when their loved pet parent dies is extreme.
Hard to come to terms
Shamala Balaji’s dog Ronnie, a Doberman, was attached to her mother. After her mother’s death, Ronnie went into depression. Shamala took him to her in-laws’ house and tried her best to make him happy. Once, when she visited her mother’s home with Ronnie, he disappeared into her mother’s room and slept peacefully…never to wake up from his sleep. Like humans, dogs too experience post-bereavement depression following the death of a dear one; they sometimes linger into the agony, which could be much longer.
Detect the symptoms
Detect some visible signs of depression in your pooch:

  • Lack of energy and interest in play or other activities.
  • Moping and showing sign of loss of appetite.
  • Reduction in social interactions.
  • Increase in daytime sleeping hours.
  • Restless at night.
  • Weight loss.

Healthy world…
There is always a way to heal any pain or wound in life. Supply appropriate supportive therapy to bring your beloved furry buddy’s life back to normal. Some simple checklists could do justice to the treatment:

  • Offer him his favourite foods/treats to make sure he continues to eat and drink properly.
  • Give him close company in both daytime and night.
  • Distract him from the sad memories using playful toys, treats and walks.
  • Even a visiting dog to the family may help stimulate his mind towards play time or food.
  • Daily exercise is a must.
  • Medication or anti-depressants (if required) will be the last resort, of course under the strict guidance from your vet.

As Reema Jain of Ludhiana shares, “My relative’s dog was very disheartened and mourned the loss when my relative passed away. He started sitting alone and stopped eating food.” It is our responsibility to help our dogs overcome grief and give him the love and support he needs in this.

Down Memory Lane

Shweta Trivedi shares, “My dearest papa passed away last year. He and Chilly shared a great bond. For Chilly – papa was the world. When suddenly papa left us, Chilly became silent and lost interest in her activities. Even now, after a year, whenever she is sad or angry and has some complaints, she goes near papa’s photograph and makes strange noises.”