When one dog mourns another dog
The one downside of finding your dog a playmate
“My neighbors are complaining again,” he told me. “Can you watch my dog this weekend?”
I smiled, accepted the dog boarding app request and waited for my four-legged friend to arrive. I’d watched this dog before. He was on an antidepressant and would randomly tip his head up to howl at the moon (or my ceiling). Over 10 years old and cute in a funny-looking way, I enjoyed being around this dog—until the antidepressants didn’t work anymore in the morning. Then, he was a handful and I counted down the minutes until his owner arrived.
Interestingly, the latter behavior wasn’t the Shih Tzu mix’s normal behavior. But when his playmate, a Dachshund, died of natural causes, he just didn’t know what to do with himself. He would walk around his owner’s home, looking for the other dog. They’d been together for so long that when you saw one, you saw the other. Without his friend, he was just plain lonely. So when his owner tried to hang out with human friends, the howling would start and the neighbors would complain.
That Shih Tzu mix’s reaction was the exact opposite of a family friend’s, whose German Shepherd lost his German Shepherd sibling from natural causes. When the latter dog died, the German Shepherd became hostile to all strangers. He would just sit on the porch or the backyard, staring and waiting for his sibling to return. It got to the point where the owners could never invite anyone over; the German Shepherd refused to let anyone enter their home.
This is one of many reasons I never wanted two dogs at once. It was tough enough for me when my own prior two dogs passed away. But to deal with a grieving dog on top of grieving myself is a lot to handle.