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Pets Mourn Too

The sad truth about how dogs can mourn the loss of a pal.

Pet dog

Hi again everyone! My name is Alex and I will be a guest writer on this blog for the next several months while I intern at Spay Neuter Charlotte.

I haven’t been interning at Spay Neuter for long but I have met some wonderful people already. Monday afternoon I met Heather and her 6 month old puppy Quigley who was at the clinic getting neutered. Quigley is a Golden Retriever who is full of life. Don’t be fooled by his calm expression in the photo above, it took a few tries to capture that. Heather shared with me an interesting story on why her family decided to add Quigley to the bunch.

In May, Heather had to make the hard decision many dog owners face of putting down her 15 year old golden retriever, Sam, due to cancer. It was a very peaceful and unique experience. Her family had a vet from Mooresville come and do the procedure at her own home. For the next couple weeks the whole family mourned the loss of their beloved Sam. Heather started to notice that no one in her family was taking the loss as hard as her other dog Bubba was taking it. Bubba and Sam were best friends and almost inseparable. Bubba is 5 years old and when he joined the family he warmed up to Sam way before he warmed up to the rest of the family. Sam had been Bubba’s role model and companion.

After weeks still seeing Bubba depressed Heather began to worry about him. His appetite and behavior had changed; he wasn’t his happy go lucky self anymore. Anytime someone would mention Sam’s name Bubba would look around as if maybe Sam had come back. Finally Heather decided to ask her family’s vet what was going on with Bubba and what she could do to get her loveable boy back.

The vet suggested that her family adopt another dog for Bubba to have around the house. This was another tough decision for Heather. Was her family ready for another dog? Would they have the time to train a puppy? After thinking about this option for a while Heather decided that she was up for the challenge as long as it would help perk up her Bubba. That’s when Quigley came into their lives.

Adjusting to Quigley in the family was difficult Heather said, it was almost like having toddler around the house. Bubba has lightened up a little but will easily get annoyed of the energetic puppy who often tries to bully him. Bubba will entertain the little guy until he can take no more and then head to the next room to be alone. Heather says that you can still tell that Bubba misses his Sam, but having Quigley around has definitely made a difference.

When Heather brought Quigley into Spay and Neuter to be fixed, Bubba instantly acted down like maybe his new friend was disappearing just like his old friend did. Luckily this time his companion will be back to help lift his spirits in his time of mourning. After meeting Quigley I couldn’t see a better choice for lifting someone’s mood. He is such a happy puppy that it almost looks like there is a huge smile on his face.

Hearing this story made me think about how dogs do understand more than we realize. Bubba might not fully understand the concept of death, but he clearly understood love and companionship. A dog mourning the loss of another dog, or even their owner is often common. Like with people, the grieving process with dogs gets better with time.

Grieving the loss of a companion can be common with cats as well. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals conducted a Companion Animal Mourning Project and found that 65% of cats showed four or more behavioral changes after losing a pet companion.

-Alex, PR Intern

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