Dog and Cat Grieve the Loss of Their Sibling

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dog and Cat Grieve the Loss of Their Sibling

When I was a kid, just a few decades ago, most people had very different ideas about pets. I believe most have evolved from dogs and cats being allowed to run neighborhoods and procreate at will, or relegating our pets to the outside to treating them as full members of the family.

I think the next step in this process, for some, is realizing that our pets have many of the same emotions and feelings as we humans experience.

One of those emotions is grief.

A photo that went viral last week on Reddit seems to substantiate the fact that our pets do feel a certain amount of grief when they lose a family member.

User Kanadka wrote of the loss of a beloved dog and how her other dog and cat kids were handling the loss: “I had to put my dog Mauja down last Saturday. I didn't think my other animals were missing her, and then this happened. Kooky and Gracie have never slept together before, but there they were last night, sleeping in Mauja's crate.”

Most of us who have had animals have seen them grieve over the loss of a human or animal family member.

My dog Emma went missing nearly three years ago in the wilds of the woods that surround our home, our pit bull Sade, slinked around the house and the porch for weeks. To this day, when I talk to her and mention Emma’s name, she will lower her head and lick my hand, as if she understands and still misses her as well.

Stories of pets grieving their pet parents are as old as domestication. Two famous stories from American history include General William Barksdale, an officer from the Civil War, whose dog mourned for him so, he refused to leave the general’s grave and eventually had to be left there by his widow, who returned to her home.

President Franklin Roosevelt’s wife, Eleanor, also said that his dog, Fala, grieved for the late president for the rest of his life.

Figo, a police dog, also recently paid a touching tribute to his partner, Officer Jason Ellis, who was killed in an ambush in Kentucky, by placing his paw on the fallen officer’s casket.

Of course, some people believe that the above photo only represents the remaining animals of the house taking over a prime spot now vacant.

What do you think?

Editor’s Note: Photo from Kanadka’s Reddit account