Friday, January 27, 2012

Yes, They Do! by Pam Todd

Just this week I saw a segment on one of the “entertainment” shows that follows the CBS Evening News.  First they showed eight to ten elephants lined up looking at a baby elephant that had died.  They touched it with their trunks and sniffed it.  More than once.  Next there was a video of chimpanzees who were watching a caretaker hold a young chimpanzee, wrapped in a blanket, on her lap.  The other chimps were watching her closely, turning and chattering to each other.  At the end of this feature the news person made the comment that what they had just seen led them to believe that perhaps animals really do grieve for those who have died.

“Well,” I said to myself, “Haven’t these folks ever had two pets that were close, played together, slept together, ate together, and then one of them died?”  If they had, they might have observed what we saw after Duke, our almost 12-year old chihuahua, died.  His best pal, Smoky, a fairly large smoky gray cat, by the way, mourned terribly.  He didn’t eat.  He lost weight.  He would go through the house making a mournful cry.  This went on for weeks.  We knew he was grieving by just watching and listening to him.  There was no doubt in our minds, and we didn’t need any scientific information to draw our own conclusions.

One piece of information I read at said a creature needs a long term memory to grieve, and that source said it is believed that only humans have that. Well, I don’t believe that for one minute.  Daisy was four or five years old when her first owner stopped by our house.  The recognition was instant.  My sister’s dog, Ozzie, associated getting in the car with being abandoned, as he had been three times before he reached his forever home.  In my observation, animals have tremendous memories.  They love, they learn, they grieve.  They know when a person is sad, sick, and mourning.  So, with my own beliefs (knowledge, I prefer to say) about dogs and cats, I decided to google animal grieving, and I found a wonderful site where you can read more about animals and their grief when they lose a companion.  The author of the story at this link is Barbara King, who is doing a study about animal grief, but also has her own personal story to share.  I think you will really enjoy reading it.


This post was written by Pam Todd,, who loves dogs and learning about all animals.  Pam is a  supporter of The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee.  She hand crochets items for people, pets, and homes for her Artfire Studio.  Be sure to stop by the shops of other members of the Crafting for Animals Guild, who also love animals and work to support causes on their behalf.  Just google cfa guild for a list of shops.



Creative Critters said...

Of course animals grieve! When Ozzy passed away Cedric looked all over the house for him for weeks, calling him, checking all his usual spots. He missed his big brother, plain and simple. He didn't want to play, he didn't even want to give head butts. Then we got Calcifer. Calcifer is pure love, and was just what Cedric needed. Calcifer and Cedric had 2 years together before Cedric passed away from kidney disease. When Cedric got very sick near the end Calcifer would gently bathe him and lay next to him to keep Cedric warm. Poor Calcifer missed Cedric very much sfter he passed away- he was so lonely, and it was very obvious. Now we have Ginko, and although Calcifer still misses his big brother, he loves Ginko and is passing on everything that Cedric taught him about being a good cat. Animals grieve, animals love, animals are intelligent and caring creatures, and I don't need a scientific study to tell me that. All I have to do is watch my own pets.
-Michelle of CreativeCritters

El at Tantalizing Stitches said...

Not only do animals grieve about their losses but they also grieve for others. Between losing her big sister and our human loss, my fat cat Mickey lost a significant amount of weight.

I brought her home to my mom, and she was taking care of my mom.

Its amazing how selfless animals are. It wants to make me strive to bring out the animal in me.

JLynnPro said...

They definitely do!

I've been reading recently that some people, when they lose an animal under controlled circumstances (at the vet, for example,) will bring the animal home after to give the others closure.

These people have said that it makes a big difference to the surviving animals. Some will just ignore it, but others will come up and sniff, etc and then walk away like "OK, I get it now."

I could see doing that myself, but I don't think my boyfriend would go for it.

Good post!