MISSING YOU MOCA!
It has been just 3 weeks, since our little Moca has departed for her next journey. It has not been easy, but I am trying to be strong. I still find myself dazing at the pillow she used to nap on. I can still smell her sweet scent on my cloth, on my chair. I miss her terribly, but as I promised her, mommy will be strong and since Moca never liked seeing me sad, I make an effort to not let the sadness cloud my days.
But the same cannot be said about Cooka. Cooka always has been the Alfa in the pack, or so we thought. Now, with Moca gone, the pack however seems to be lifeless, without a cause. Cooka, the rebel and always up for some mischief has changed into a totally different dog and I am very concerned. She has lost her appetite. She sleeps way too much and even when I bake the most tempting cookies, she keeps in her basket. When I spoke about my concerns with our Vet John, he explained that most likely Cooka was suffering a bout of depression, as yes, pets can grief too!
Just like hoomans, loosing a pet friend can be a traumatic and life-changing experience for a dog.
To be honest, I never would have thought that Cooka, out of fur-family would be the one grieving the most. Sherlock, yes. He is so gentle and fragile, but Cooka, such a strong and free-spirited girl – getting the blues?
So now what?
How to Help a Grieving Dog
First of all the facts: Yes, dogs grieve too. Since dogs process everything emotionally and intuitively, their grieving process is often very difficult for them, as their sense of loss is profoundly emotional.
What are some of the typical signs that may indicate that your dog is grieving:
- loss of appetite
- lethargy and depression
- wakefulness—or the opposite—sleeping more than usual
- accidents in the house
- acting up- i.e. behavior issues
- separation anxiety
- vocalizations—not necessarily barking, but howling, whimpering and whining.
- personality changes
So what to do next? We asked some experts and here is their advise:
1. Recognise that your dog may be sad. It’s very important that we honor and respect what our canine friends are going through by letting them know that we understand and that we are there for them.
2. Be sure to check your dog’s physical needs. It’s important that your fur-baby is healthy and strong enough to grieve. We also need to be aware of the fact that prolonged grieving may cause physical problems.
3. Do whatever you can to BOND! Create special outings, let him/her sleep on the bed with you, snuggle more and of course, a few extra treats (healthy only).
4. Stick to a routine that will help to create security.
5. Add a bit more exercise and stimulation to the daily routine. The physical activity will help feel more settled.
6. Don’t be a ‘helicopter pawrent’. Hovering and playing the ‘OH, my poor baby” game with a dog that is grieving only intensifies the grief and isn’t helpful. Be kind and sympathetic, but don’t turn it into a drama.
7. If your fur-child is experiencing grief because of the loss of an animal companion be careful about introducing a new baby into the family right away. Just put yourself in his/her place: if we lose a dear friend or family member we don’t rush out and find another person to replace the one who departed. We need time to process our grief. So if you are going to welcome another dog into your home and heart, it might be a good idea to let your grieving dog help you choose the new family member.
8. Helping a grieving dog can be challenging, as on one hand, dogs live in the moment so they’re very capable to be fully present in their lives, but as time is a relative concept in the life of a dog sometimes these moments aren’t always right now but kind of like yesterday, or a month ago, or the other year… The imprints of the past often stay with a pet and it’s up to us hoomans to help them erase the sadness and replace it with happy tail-wagging moments. Help your child to create new memories.
9. Finally, be patient. It make take weeks, or even months for your dog to emerge from grief. Just hang in there and honor the process by allowing him/her to make sense of it all in his/her own time. Grieving is his/her way to honor his/her friend. Luckily the spirit of a dog is always leaning towards a happy one, so grieving will hopefully soon be forgotten and replaced with more happy dog days.
Missing you sweet Moca,
Mommy, Cooka, Sherlock and dad