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 http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/do-animals-mourn 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. http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2011/10/20/141452847/do-animals-grieve
This post was written by Pam Todd, www.bagsandmore.artfire.com, 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.