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When a pet loses their human

Posted by SusanStokes on January 14, 2014

As pet owners, we all know the pain and anguish of pet loss. Pets are family to us, and when they cross over Rainbow Bridge, they take a little part of us with them. But how does a pet feel when they lose their human or companion animal?

A study by the ASPCA in 1996 found more than half of the dogs and cats showed at least four recognizable behavioral signs of grieving over a companion animal.  These signs included a decrease in appetite, clinginess and lethargy. Some dogs have also been known to whine, bark more and sleep in unusual places.

A grieving animal may also appear to look for the missing pet. They may wait by the door or window for their friend to come home after witnessing the human leaving the house. Maybe they saw their ill pet friend being carried out the door, perhaps on the way to the veterinarian to be cared for and eventually euthanized.

In most cases, time heals, and the grieving pet will return to more normal behavior.  As the pet owner, time and patience is key.  Spending more time with the remaining pet, encouraging it to eat its favorite foods, and not rushing to bring in another new pet too soon will help ease the grief.


What really inspired me to write about this subject, however, was a video. It is a story of a German Shepherd who lost their owner.  As the story goes, Tommy is a 7-year-old dog adopted as a stray by a woman in Italy. When she passed away, Tommy showed up at the funeral. Every day thereafter, when the church bells chime, Tommy goes to mass. He sits quietly in the front of the church and has now been adopted by the parishioners. Although this video is not available for viewing at this time, you understand my point.

Dog at Funeral.jpg

I'm giving my pets an extra hug tonight.  How about you?

Susan, Taurus and Gemini



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