Do Dogs Grieve Too?

Our family loves dogs.

Even when the kids were babies (and were suffering from asthma), we maintained dogs at home. Of course, we were careful not to let the dogs into the house and kept mostly dachschunds. But we’ve had other breeds at one time or another in the past: beagle, Labrador, Shih Tzu.

In 2002, we were blessed with 2 dachschund puppies: Yugi (male) and Yumi (female). My kids were into Japanese anime then so all our dogs were baptized with Japanese-sounding names.

Being hounds, Yugi and Yumi learned by instinct to chase (and kill) rats. They were our homegrown pest control weapons. But the champion rat eliminator was Yumi. She could smell them a mile away. I lose count of the number of rats (and even stray cats) that she has killed. She goes after them relentlessly, even if she has to sit beside a canal, hole or opening the whole night waiting for the (what must be an already petrified) rat to come out of hiding.

And yet with humans, Yumi was also a lady and the gentlest of dogs. She loved us so much and longed to be loved as well. When the kids approach her, she immediately rolls on her back, waiting to be touched and stroked. Yumi and Yugi, while blood siblings, became constant companions as they shared the sun portions of the garden every day and their sleep corner in the patio every night.

But last Sunday, we had an emergency. Yumi, perfectly healthy and normal one day, suddenly began defecating blood. And to top it all, my husband was out of town and our driver was on his weekend furlough. Thankfully, my brother lived just 10 minutes away by car. He willingly brought Yumi to the vet in Quezon City where she had to be confined. We thought all would go well from thereon.

But it wasn’t to be. The next day, the vet called me and said Yumi was suffering kidney and liver failure from leptospirosis and that her chances of survival was 1 out of 10. We were devastated. And true enough, she did not last another 24 hours after that call. The next call I got was the vet again sadly telling me our beloved Yumi had passed away.

After years of victoriously killing the rats around our home, a disease from rats also claimed her life as if in a cruel twist of revenge.

The natural grieving our family is going through is still there and only time can heal our pain. It’s doubly hard because not too far ago, we also lost our Labrador to an illness. Just last night, one of my girls came to me a bit teary-eyed saying she missed Yumi. She wasn’t aware that I too was crying my eyes out the night we buried Yumi in our yard.

Yugi has also been going through what appears to be grief. I have been asking myself if he was aware that Yumi had died? After all, she was his constant partner and he must be missing her scent. Does he fully comprehend? Or is it simply animal instinct that makes him whimper and howl the whole day? Even now as I write this post, I hear Yugi whimpering in the patio. Poor guy…

I would like to believe that dogs (and other pets), if capable of loving their owners, are capable of feeling grief too. I remember that YouTube video of a male cat trying desperately to revive his friend who was hit by a car. That was so pitifully sad.

A blogger friend shared with me her post, Do Dogs Have Souls?. The thought that Yumi and all our past dogs are in some kind of doggie heaven is very comforting. After all, why should humans be the only ones entitled to some kind of heaven after life when dogs are so loving?

Have you recently lost a pet you loved? How are you coping?

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0 thoughts on “Do Dogs Grieve Too?

  1. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss, Jane. It’s so sad to lose honorary family members in the guise of our pets. 🙁

    Sending you my love.

    @Fristine – Thanks so much, Fristine! We’ll heal in time.

  2. I think only dog-lovers would understand your grief. When I lost MY dog (the only one I could claim I raised, not by my mom, not by the help) in 2001, I was depressed for weeks. My non-dog-lover friends found me weird and laughed at me instead of offering comfort. Weird, it’s true, because I had a relationship with my dog. Away-bati kind of thing but he’d cry with me whenever I was sad. He knew, he felt, and he sympathized. Never had another dog since.

    BTW, i really suspect I was a dog in my past life 😉

    *HUGS* Jane!

  3. My 10 year old Spaniel died in my arms today. We had him put to sleep as he had had a terrible relapse of pneumonia that had drained him of all joy of living. We love and miss him very very much but believe that he’s now having a field day in doggy heaven. Reading your article made me realize that I’m not alone in my grief and I thank you for that.

    @Szzink – Awww, I am so sorry for your loss. Yes, I’d like to believe that dogs indeed go to heaven.

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