Do Dogs Mourn?

The whole hee-haw gang, Sam, Puck, Eliot
The whole hee-haw gang, Sam, Puck, Eliot

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

32 thoughts on “Do Dogs Mourn?

  1. This post makes me sad and happy at the same time! Teddy was very bonded with D’Art, but hasn’t ever exhibited the ‘looking for him’ behavior. I concluded that because D’Art died in our room, on a bed next to Teddy’s, he knows he’s gone. I wish I could ask him about it though.

  2. Oh Puck, she was such a lovable smarty pants. We never stop missing them terribly, do we?

    As the only dog Lulu has NOT wanted to violently tear to shreds, Klaus better stick around as long as she does because I cannot imagine how distraught she’ll get … that girl is a train wreck as it is.

  3. I firmly believe they mourn. Both for humans and four legged companions. Poor sweet Sam, I’m glad you were able to help him through it.

  4. Hi Monika,
    Don’t know about the dogs mourning but I was sure feeling sad reading this post. Didn’t know you used to have OESDs. We used to have one ourselves. His name was oringally Loopy, which we promptly changed to what we considered was a much more suitably dignified name….Rufus. However, God love him. Rufus was Loppy, especially in storms when he’d run round and aroiund the kitchen table in a sprint frothing at the mouth. He never could get the knack of mindfulness or relaxation or going to his “happy place”. His jaws didn’t meet abd when he shook his head, huge gloops of slobber would fly across the room and crash land onto the walls. Disgusting!! Rufus being such a tall dog, would jump up onto our high kitchen bench and steal food…plastic bag and all. This dog was a handful. I can’t remember whether Rufus was upset when Zorro our first Border Collie died but I do remember that we lasted less than a week without a dog before we bought Bilbo, our current Border Collie as a pup. The house felt empty, barren, naked without a dog. It’s soul was gone xx Rowena

    1. It’s always a balancing act when a dog passes to decide whether or not to get another. It took me almost 6 to get another Standard. And for a brief period I contemplated another OES but as the days turned to weeks and months, I decided I didn’t miss the slobber and constant floor mopping. That said, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for those hairy hounds. They can be a handful and it takes an equally strong-minded owner to wrangle them at times. 😉 Puck was better at manipulating us than Eliot. Like I said, she was quite the pill. <3

      1. There’s an OES who lives around here called, not unsurprisingly, Sam. I love meeting up with him and his owner and that satisfies my love for the breed as well as seeing them on the Dulux pain ads. Don’t know if you have that over there. Sam’s sister is the current Dulux dog. Personally, I feel the Dulux dog misrepresents the breed. That dog must live at the salon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dulux#Dulux_dog
        xx Rowena

      2. Oh yes, very familiar with and love the Dulux ads. Maintaining the hair isn’t too hard if you’re consistent though I never let either Puck or Eliot’s hair get that long. Those chin hairs get all grody with all that drooling. 😉

      3. I’d forgotten the chin hairs but not the walls. Our Rufus wasn’t best in show and his fur never really grew all that long. He was a bit mixed up the poor dog but he was incredibly affectionate and loving. You always knew you were very deeply loved and the centre of his somewhat deranged universe.

  5. Ottie came to live with us when we still had a Rottweiler, Carl, who showed him the ropes. When Carl passed away 5 years into Ottie’s life we let Ottie sit by the grave as we lowered Carl in (all our dogs are buried on the property) so he would know where Carl was. For about a month, he moped, felt very sad and would sit in the spot where Carl used to sit. He was barely interested in walking and then we decided to adopt Portia.
    A few years ago, I fostered a female boxer for 7 months, who had cancer. Rachel would sleep in between them and my dogs were very gentle, very protective of her, instictively knowing she wasn’t well, or maybe that she was weaker. When she died, in my arms, in the kitchen, Ottie and Portia were there. As soon as she took her last breath, they lost interest in her, no sniffing around as if they knew. Again, I took them to the grave as we lowered Rachel. Maybe because they still had each other’s company, the mourning wasn’t as severe. But they do know about death, I believe, or, at least, about the finality of it.

  6. I cried for four months straight after my own poodle crossed the bridge. I still cry sometimes – she was my first baby and we were basically inseparable. When I was a kid, we had two poodles who were mother and daughter. When Coco passed at 13, poor Pixie mourned for weeks – if not months – and looked for her mama every day up to the day she, too, passed. (Then our third dog – also a poodle – looked for her for weeks.) Decades have passed since then, but I think of all the dogs in my past and know they’re happy playing together again. Callie and Shadow are so closely bonded that I fear they won’t be separated for long once the first one leaves us. Ducky? I’m not sure how she’ll react. I know she loves her big sisters; but the bond between her and either of them is totally different. Time alone will tell, and I hope it’s a L O N G, L O N G time.

  7. I just wrote about our Tino’s reaction to losing his neighbor friend. But I have to say, our other dogs haven’t displayed the same reaction. It might be that all of them were seniors when we adopted them and they didn’t really grow a bond to each other, so when Tino died, Becca barely noticed and when Becca passed, I think Jack was secretly glad…more attention for him.

  8. I’M SO GLAD YOU HAVE YOUR BLOGS, WITHOUT THEM I’D NEVER KNOW YOU’RE ALIVE AND KICKING. SO, HOW’S IT GOING? HOPE ALL IS WELL. PS YOU SHOULD SEE IF YOU COULD GET THE COLLECTED BLOGS PUBLISHED IN BOOK FORM, THEY’RE CERTAINLY GOOD NOUGH AND SO ENJOYABLE. LOVYA

  9. I’m sure they do. Our Chipy waited in front of the door for weeks that Frosty comes back… till the day she noticed he is gone forever… and that was the day she gave up herself and refused to eat or to leave the house… :o(

  10. I kept my one dog’s chain on my desk after he passed. One day it rattled by accident and my other dog came flying in the room frantically looking for his pal. I immediately cried and of course moved the chain to somewhere it would rattle. Pups certainly have a memory for those they love.

  11. Well you do have a poodle…and a sensitive one with a strong sense of abandonment feelings.
    It’s a good thing Sam.
    LeeAnna at not afraid of color

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