Do Dogs Mourn?
One question that I hear from time to time is, “Do dogs mourn?” and my answer is always, “Yes”. Most dog owners know that their dog is happy to see them, enjoys their company and is sad when they leave. Some dogs, such as my sister’s papillon will not even eat if their owner is not in the room with them. When you come home, even if you have been gone for a short time, your dog greets you with a wagging tale and a panting smile. They love you and you are their world. Scientists confirm what dog owners always knew. Studies show that animals feel fear, security, wild happiness and even jealousy and anger. Charles Darwin described animal emotion, but until recently, only the “higher” animals, such as humans, could be considered to have had feelings. Researchers kept trying to explain animal behaviour without animal emotion or came up with some pretty weird explanations for the behaviour they were seeing. Lay people could look at a dog and see sadness, happiness or jealousy.
I once rescued a Chihuahua whose owner had died. She was left in the home for one day with her dead owner. I found her lying next to her owner and when I tried to pick her up she growled and leaned up closer to her owner and her eyes began to water. I told her it would be ok in a soft voice and she then crawled in to my arms. For two days she wouldn’t eat and just laid in her bed with her eyes full of tears. My heart knew she was mourning the loss of her owner. This five year old Chihuahua was so sad. It took me one month before I saw a smile from her. Eventually one of the 7 month old pups decided it was time for a play date and they both played for several hours. Two months later I placed her in a wonderful home with a family that had a Chihuahua the same age as she was.
Love is a basic emotion, withdrawal of love will cause grief and loss. Dogs are capable of love/attachment and therefore capable of feeling the loss of a loved one, whether it is from its owner or a dog or cat that is close to them in the family.