Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Do Animals Grieve - I Say Yes

Jeffie and the Dog Daddy
Today marks the one year anniversary of Jeffie's death and tomorrow will mark two weeks since my husband Gary's death.  Naturally, I'm thinking about grief.

Awhile back I wrote about missing Jeffie and Kim (Team Beaglebratz) left a comment which included:
" I was wondering something - is there a chance your other dogs would still be grieving a little - or were they never close to Jeffie?  Just a thought."
My answer is yes.  Especially Rudy.

And it got me thinking about other animals we've lost and the reactions of the ones they left behind.

I firmly believe our pets do grieve.For both their animal and human companions.

I shared Tim and Tom's story with you last week (Burying Tom and Going Home)   Our Belgian draft horses Tim and Tom spent their whole lives together.  Born on the same farm and matched up as a team, they ate, slept, worked and played together.  When Tom died at age 29, Tim was present as our vet administered the euthanasia drugs.  He was present as we buried him 

And Tim stood guard at Tom's grave for weeks sending heart breaking whinnies into the skies.  Tom was never the same and there was never any doubt he spent the rest of his own life missing his partner.

Tim (left) and Tom (right)

When we lost Cakes this past January, Ditty - who never even bothered to answer Cakes whinnies for her - spent more than a week in grief.  Calling for her friend.  Like Tim and Tom, Ditty and Cakes had spent their whole lives together.

Most of our dogs have been present at the deaths and burials of their canine friends.  There has always been a very subdued mood and they've always spent time visiting the graves.

Rudy has lived through the loss of Tucker, Lucy Jeffie and now Gary.  He was really just a puppy when Tucker was dying.The last two days we most often found Rudy sitting vigil with Tucker.   He still visits Tucker and Lucy's graves.

Rudy sitting vigil with Tucker.
Rudy and Jeffie had a very close relationship.  We'd jokingly told Jeffie that Rudy was his puppy, but Jeffie took that very seriously.  Rudy really did become his.

I started to say that Rudy hasn't been the same since Jeffie died, but the truth is that he hasn't been the same since Jeffie became ill.  Both Rudy and Rosie were very upset, nervous and worried.  Rudy more so.

And when we came home without Jeffie - after that fateful mad dash to the vet when Jeffie died in my arms before we could get there - neither Rudy nor Rosie looked for him.  

They knew.

Since then Rudy has become more my dog than ever.  He's been by turns what I would call depressed and what I would call manic.  When we're outside playing he pretty much goes crazy.  I have no doubt his misses his hairy brother and the rowdy play they loved.
Rowdy boys Rudy and Jeffie

These days both Rudy and Rosie are missing their Dog Daddy.  They periodically check the house for him.  Rudy sometimes stations himself at the front door watching for him.  They examine and sniff things that were his.
Rudy waiting and hoping.

Yes, they're definitely influenced by my own angst and heartbreak - in all these instances of lossHowever, their behavior leaves no doubt in my mind.

Do animals grieve?

Unequivocally, I say yes.   


  1. I think so too that animals grieve. They have this attachment that we can only hope to explain if we could but I can't begin to imagine how painful it could be for them too.

  2. I agree Sue. Dogs and lots of other mammals show clear signs of grief. Scientists are coming around to that view also; there's plenty of evidence for it. Your animals have experienced so much love and companionship. To me it seems arrogant to assume only we humans feel these strongly enough to grieve for our loved ones when they're gone. And your grief - I hope being with Rudy and Rosie is some comfort for you too. I'm thinking of you and the strength it took for you to write this beautiful post. Sending a {{{hug}}}.

    1. Thanks, Amy. Must confess that this is a draft post that I added just a few sentences to. I'd planned to post it in a sort of celebration of Jeffie and it turned out to be even more appropriate given recent events. Hugs right back to you.

  3. I agree 100% that animals grieve and they also have a sense for someone that is ill or dying. It's hard to, that we can't really explain to them what has happened. I hope you and Rudy and Rosie find comfort, and peace in each other in this very hard time.

  4. I totally agree. I don't understand how folks could think they *don't*. Those stories about your horses grieving just break my heart! And Rudy... oh, we miss Jeffie so much too! You've had a lot to deal with and I'm glad you have Rudy and Rosie there with you. Hope you are all able to comfort each other.

  5. Katy definitely greeved for Bailey and she withdrew until Annie came along. She was amazingly supportive when Bailey was sick and she knew he was gone when we came home without him. It was heart breaking to see her pull further and further back from the stuff she and Bailey did together.

  6. I say yes too Sue, these past weeks must have been hard and now to grieve the one year passing of Jeffie. Heartbreaking. hugs.

  7. I'm crying sitting in my office reading your post. For your family and your grief and memories. I agree Sue they definitely grieve! Hugs human and furry from the Gruzensky pack!

  8. Mom was very surprised I didn't seem to care at all that Katie was gone. I was so close to her my whole life, but never showed and signs of grief. When Trine passed away, Katie was devastated and it took at least a month to get through it. I guess as with humans, we all handle it differently.

  9. I completely agree!! When our dogs are separated the pace the house looking for the other one. They love and care and have emotions like we do.

  10. My heart just aches reading this and the tears are welling up. At least with us, we can talk to each other and share feelings. And we can understand a bit, and know they aren't coming home, but how do we tell that to them?

    1. I do talk to them, especially the dogs. I think Rudy just can't believe/accept it. Can't blame him. That's true for me, too.

  11. I have doubt either that pets do grieve. I have witnessed it with my own, in their actions, emotions and behaviors.

    So sorry about Jeffie and Gary. Anniversaries are so difficult.

    24 Paws crossed for you.

  12. They definitely do. How much, I believe, depends on the individual animal and the type of bond with the one who passed away. After Jasmine's passing, JD was very lost because he depended on her a lot. When JD passed, Cookie has been sad and looking for him but because she's quite a bit her own dog doing her own thing, she was not lost without him. The bonds are different between every two animals.

  13. This breaks my heart, Sue, but of course it was already broken for you. I am glad you are getting out here and sharing some feelings, I hope it is helping you in your grief.
    I agree that animals grieve. But just like people, some grieve differently, and I think sometimes they accept things better. When our Moses died, Sheba (his littermate) stuck close to me for about 2 weeks. But when Kobi died, everyone seemed OK afterwards. But Kobi was older, and I think maybe dogs can understand when it's time. Kobi never was the same after losing his sister Maggie way too young, and our cat Conrad was never the same after losing our cat Katie. They were very close and Katie was only 9. Conrad mewled at night long after she was gone.

  14. I know that our pets grieve. I have also seen it through the years. That grief is how we decided to let Pierre move in with us when our daughter moved to Alaska. We had just lost our Golden and Bentley was so sad. Little Pierre brought joy back into all of our lives. Sending healing thoughts and prayers to you.


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