You always hear about dogs losing their owners and asking yourself if dogs, or animals in general, actually grieve when losing their owner. I have never really thought about what goes through a dogs head when their owner has passed away until my brother, Brett, passed away about two months ago. I immediately wondered what Darla was doing and if she could tell something was wrong. I asked a million questions when I heard the news about Brett and one of them was about Darla.
When I got home the day Brett passed, Darla seemed very overwhelmed with the amount of people at our house. She was confused and seemed very concerned when we cried. She was constantly looking out the door for Brett’s truck, wondering when he will be home. When she heard a truck go by, she barked and ran up to the door. It was heartbreaking.
About a week after the funeral, we decided to bring Brett’s truck home. Not realizing what Darla would do when I pulled up in the F150, my mom let Darla out to greet me. When I pulled up, she was extremely happy until I got out of the truck, and she realized it was me and not Brett. She sniffed the truck for about fifteen minutes and ran back inside. Once she came back inside, she sat right in front of me and looked deep into my eyes with the saddest look on her furry face. She then climbed into my lap and whimpered. My heart shattered into a million pieces.
After that moment, I realized that dogs grieve just as much as humans. Just like humans, dogs are in shock. They experience the same emotions as we do, just a little different. Sometimes I will walk in on Darla laying on Brett’s bed by herself, knowing she isn’t allowed to without being told she could. There are days when I can tell she is sad and feeling lonely. Most of the time when we are laying in his bed, she lets out a big sigh followed by some whimpering.
Darla not only lost her daddy, but her best friend. She lost her cuddle buddy, her hunting partner, her ride or die. She is taking every day step by step just like all of us, but in a different way. Like humans, Darla has her moments and some moments are better than others. Even though she may not understand me, I remind her every day I can about how much Brett adored and loved her and how happy he is now.
So if you’ve ever wondered if dogs grieve, they do. During their grieving process, they will need you as much as you need them. Giving them a little extra loving won’t hurt them either!