As we were walking out of the house with our oldest Schnauzer (Max), we stopped to let 4 month-old Mollie and 13-year-old Ace say any sort of goodbye. I wondered if they could tell or smell what was happening. I wondered if they knew it was the last time they were going to see him. Max was being put to sleep.
I’m a firm believer that dogs can sense our emotions. So why wouldn’t they sense the sadness emitting off us when we returned minus a pack member? Ace shows no outward signs, and he’s been with Max for the past 8 years. Mollie, however, is a different story. She was only 4 months old. We’ve only had her since November. The most interaction Mollie and Max had in that time was some serious sniffing sessions and a couple times Mollie got in Max’s face to see if she could engage him. So why was Mollie subdued and not eating? How come it wasn’t Ace?
We became concerned that Mollie had eaten a rock or something while in the yard and made a call to the vet. Previously, she ate her treats with vigor and there were no issues, yet our normally rambunctious puppy was now a mellow and cuddly puppy. While we enjoyed the cuddles, we were concerned. This was abnormal.
Our vet put our minds at ease. As long as she was subdued and not lethargic and that she was having bowel movements in addition to eating treats and some of her kibble, she was mourning. She sensed a shift in the energy of the house and even though her interactions with Max were brief, she was aware that a member of the pack was no longer there.
As with humans, each dog mourns in different ways. Dogs can show these symptoms:
- They may become depressed and listless.
- They may have a decreased appetite and decline to play.
- They may sleep more than usual and move more slowly, sulking around.
Our vet actually stated that he gets several dogs each month who are visiting for nothing more than depression. What seems like a more serious issue is, in some cases, just each dog’s coping mechanism.
Also from vcahospitals.com:
- 36% of dogs experienced a decreased appetite following the loss of a canine companion.
- Approximately 11% refused to eat at all.
- Many dogs slept more than usual while some suffered insomnia.
- Some dogs changed the area of the house where they slept.
- About 63% exhibited changes in vocal patterns, with some vocalizing more while others were quieter than they were prior to their loss of a companion.
- Surviving dogs were often more affectionate with their owners and became clingy.