There was a story in a local paper several months ago about a dog who was hiking in the backcountry when his master was injured in a terrible freak fall and died. When the hiker didn’t show up, people went out looking for him and found the loyal dog lying next to the body refusing to leave. Was the dog mourning the loss of his master? Some people thought so.
I thought about that story as I realized that 4 years ago today, Puck crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Sam was the third dog to join my merry little band. Back then I already had two Old English Sheepdogs as different as night and day. Eliot was the consummate worry wart while Puck was a strong-willed pill of a dog, hell-bent on torturing her big brother (and the rest of us, too!) at every opportunity. She tormented him in all sorts of ways and he always fell for her antics and head games. She’d engage him in all sorts of devious ways and he’d fall for it every single time without fail. I swore I once heard her bark “sucker!” when she got him in a particularly clever way. As often happens in multiple-dog households, there were times when the fur would fly and despite sibling rivalry, they were completely bonded to each other.
Sam joined our little circus as a young whippersnapper doofus 7 years ago and true to her bad little self, Puck continued her puckish ways on the naive little brother when Eliot wasn’t available by tricking him into giving up toys and favorite napping spots when she engaged him with her noisy barking etc., yet Sam fell in completely in love with her despite her devious-ness and food stealing. Like most brothers rationalize, that was his big sister and he loved her deeply despite her being so wretched to him and Eliot.
Sadly our fur babies don’t live forever. First Eliot passed away, then a couple of years later, Puck joined him. Both had been rescued from the Denver Dumb Friends and while their exact ages were uncertain, they lived with me over 11 years making them somewhere around 13-15 when they crossed the Rainbow Bridge. What was most unexpected was Sam’s reaction to each of their passing and especially with Puck. Though not close to him, he was mostly confused when Eliot died, he’d look for him throughout the house for some time but he had an even more dramatic reaction when Puck left us. He clearly was distressed and even depressed. He paced from room to room looking for the friend he adored. He moped around, refused to eat and did loads of heavy sighing when he realized he couldn’t find her. I tried to give him more attention, extra long walks and lots of ear scratches. It took nearly 6 weeks before he was his old goofy self again. One day on a long walk, he spied a OES walking across the street. I thought Sam was going to bounce right out of his skin trying to get to it. He was so excited at the thought of seeing his old friend again I guess and to this day he still looks long and hard at all sheepdogs. Who ever said dogs don’t have memories must not have ever had a dog.🐾
Have you ever had a dog mourn the loss of a beloved family pet? How did you handle it? How did your pooch deal with it?
Live, love, bark! <3