snopes.com  

Go Back   snopes.com > Urban Legends > Critter Country

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01 September 2009, 05:54 PM
Ravenhull's Avatar
Ravenhull Ravenhull is offline
 
Join Date: 13 September 2005
Location: Mobile, AL
Posts: 1,935
Dog Pets grieve themselves to death

I've heard this idea a few times, and appeared to have seen it once, but the story goes that in some cases pets, especially dogs, will 'grieve themselves to death' after their owner dies.

I admit, I have seen a case that could be considered this (yes, I know it is anedotal evidence). A few years back, a friend was killed in a car accident. Two weeks later, her widower found their apparently healthy manstiff curled up under a tree in the backyard, dead. I can testify that only a few days earlier, he seemed to be healthy and active, but it is quite possible that he had a condition that was not evident, but the timing....

So, have any of you heard such stories or seen it yourselves?
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 01 September 2009, 06:01 PM
llewtrah's Avatar
llewtrah llewtrah is offline
 
Join Date: 13 December 2001
Location: Chelmsford, UK
Posts: 16,364
Default

I've seen quite a few cases whee cats would not eat after the owner died. One case was severe enough the vet gave an injection to stimulate the appetite. Another case failed to respond to treatment and the cat had to be put to sleep.

Sometimes such a drastic change of circumstance (the disappearance of the person to whom they were closest bonded) can have a dramatic effect on an animal.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 01 September 2009, 08:11 PM
Not_Done_Living's Avatar
Not_Done_Living Not_Done_Living is offline
 
Join Date: 02 September 2006
Location: Markham, ON
Posts: 3,122
Default

When i moved out after my separation started, my cat who didn't care at all when i was away for business for weeks/months at a time, and who slept at my ex's head for the 8 years we were all togehter, sat by the back door and meowed non stop for 2 weeks.

He stopped eating after one week. At the end of that week i got a call to come pick up my cat.

He has been happily injesting anything that resembles cat food ever since.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 01 September 2009, 08:40 PM
RivkahChaya's Avatar
RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
 
Join Date: 14 July 2006
Location: Indiana
Posts: 12,275
Default

It's probably a combination of factors.

One is that old people, and people with terminal illnesses, who are most likely to die, tend not to get puppies and kittens. So their pets may more often be past middle age than the pets of younger people.

Another is that subtle changes in food, feeding and routine can affect an animal's health, especially an animal that is not young.

The emotional factor is not the only factor, but it certainly matters. I knew a dog that got diarrhea when he was rehomed. His new owner got him treated right away, with immodium, prescription food, and filtered water (she had well water). The vet said it was the stress of being in a new home, and missing his previous owner, who had died, that caused his symptoms (I guess she couldn't culture anything, or see parasites in his poop). After a week, he had adjusted, didn't need medicine, and was eating regular food. The new owner did not know the old owner. However, if the dog had been in the care of a relative, who was also stressed about the death, and all the things that need to be done, the dog might have gone untreated.

Then, of course, you have to consider confirmation bias.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02 September 2009, 12:59 AM
catty5nutz catty5nutz is offline
 
Join Date: 22 January 2007
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Posts: 1,333
Default

Years ago, we had an old cat, Hokum. We thought he was on his last legs. Then we got the kittens, Sunshine and Jade. Sunshine immediately attached herself to Hokum, bouncing all over him, attacking him, and generally driving him nuts.
Hokum picked up, and became a young cat again. He and Sunshine were always together, and they used to chase each other.
Unfortunately, Sunshine had severe behavourial problems. She had been abandoned by her mother, and had lived rough for a couple of weeks, at a time when she still should have been nursing. Eventually, we had her PTS.
Hokum started going down hill. He stopped eating, stopped washing, lost all interest in everything. About four months after we lost Sunshine, he went too.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 02 September 2009, 01:08 AM
snapdragonfly's Avatar
snapdragonfly snapdragonfly is offline
 
Join Date: 15 March 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 10,734
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by catty5nutz View Post
Years ago, we had an old cat, Hokum. We thought he was on his last legs. Then we got the kittens, Sunshine and Jade. Sunshine immediately attached herself to Hokum, bouncing all over him, attacking him, and generally driving him nuts.
Hokum picked up, and became a young cat again. He and Sunshine were always together, and they used to chase each other.
Unfortunately, Sunshine had severe behavourial problems. She had been abandoned by her mother, and had lived rough for a couple of weeks, at a time when she still should have been nursing. Eventually, we had her PTS.
Hokum started going down hill. He stopped eating, stopped washing, lost all interest in everything. About four months after we lost Sunshine, he went too.
That makes me want to cry.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 02 September 2009, 06:05 AM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
Join Date: 04 November 2005
Location: Borlänge, Sweden
Posts: 11,368
Default

My vet said this on the subject: "Animals don't grieve, but they do miss someone lost.".
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 02 September 2009, 07:16 PM
TripleAAA TripleAAA is offline
 
Join Date: 12 June 2008
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 989
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Troberg View Post
My vet said this on the subject: "Animals don't grieve, but they do miss someone lost.".

No wonder he's a vet, being able to talk to animals and all. Seriously, no offense to you, but how the heck does he know? Sure, they don't cry, but that doesn't mean they don't grieve. It tee's me off when people think animals don't have emotions, or their emotions are limited. Fear, happiness, boredom, annoyance and love are all emotions, and emotions I've seen in my cat.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 02 September 2009, 07:31 PM
RivkahChaya's Avatar
RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
 
Join Date: 14 July 2006
Location: Indiana
Posts: 12,275
Default

Fiona, who is DH's baby, noticed when he left for Basic Training, and seemed to poke around looking for him, and was a little confused that she could smell him, but couldn't see him. She started sleeping in some unwashed laundry the first night he was away, even though she didn't really fit in the tub, so I pulled out his shirts, and put them in a cardboard box that was more her size, next to the bed, and she slept there for a long time.

She didn't seem to be in deep mourning, but when he came back for a week long break, because he happened to be gone over Christmas, Fiona was so excited to see him she practically had a seizure. The dogs rode with us to Missouri to take him back to Leonard Wood, and Fiona jumped out of the car and sort of clung to his leg, and tried really hard to follow him. As we drove out, she stared out the back window, whimpering.

It's all fine now, and Fiona is napping on the couch, and even made it through DH's deployment without permanent trauma.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 02 September 2009, 07:45 PM
RCIAG's Avatar
RCIAG RCIAG is offline
 
Join Date: 29 May 2009
Location: Gaithersburg, MD
Posts: 1,389
Default

On the flipside, I just put down my older cat & the younger one is all "whatever, more food for me."
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 02 September 2009, 08:07 PM
RivkahChaya's Avatar
RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
 
Join Date: 14 July 2006
Location: Indiana
Posts: 12,275
Default

When we had four dogs at one point, the oldest was the alpha, the next oldest, was a retired service dog who had been adopted as an adult and desperately wanted to be alpha, the third oldest was happy-go-lucky Fiona, about five at the time, and the youngest was about six months.

The oldest died (ripe old age, but I was still pretty broken up). Next oldest was practically dancing around, singing the "I'm the Alpha!" song, Fiona was moping a little, and pushed the deceased dog's bowl under the microwave hutch, with food still in it, which was sort of an odd thing to do, while the puppy seemed less concerned that a dog was missing than that I was not myself, and was sticking to me like glue.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 02 September 2009, 08:10 PM
geminilee's Avatar
geminilee geminilee is offline
 
Join Date: 02 December 2005
Location: New Orleans, La.
Posts: 11,103
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Troberg View Post
My vet said this on the subject: "Animals don't grieve, but they do miss someone lost.".
And what is the difference supposed to be?

This is something that always bugs me. So many people will jump through linguistic and logical hoops in an effort to distinguish humans from other animals. If they react in the same way to the same stimuli, then the cause should be assumed to be the same unless other evidence is forthcoming that it is in fact different.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 03 September 2009, 05:57 AM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
Join Date: 04 November 2005
Location: Borlänge, Sweden
Posts: 11,368
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by geminilee View Post
And what is the difference supposed to be?

This is something that always bugs me. So many people will jump through linguistic and logical hoops in an effort to distinguish humans from other animals. If they react in the same way to the same stimuli, then the cause should be assumed to be the same unless other evidence is forthcoming that it is in fact different.
Well, given what I know about the vet, I doubt he did it in order to set humans apart from animals. I think he was trying to make a legitimate observation.

As for the difference, I think it loses some subtle nuances in the translation.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 04 September 2009, 09:13 PM
Xia's Avatar
Xia Xia is offline
 
Join Date: 20 July 2000
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 4,384
Default

I had a case I think could be considered connected. However it was not a case where a healthy animal died of "grief". I had a pair of pet rats who had been together since they were babies. They were older, one had heart problems and the other one had been fighting pneumonia for over a year (she would improve, then get worse for a while, then improve again etc). The one with heart problems suddenly died, my vet said it was most likely a heart attack. When she died my other rat seemed depressed and unhappy. She had been on a new set of medications and was improving but after her cagemate died her health declined and she died two weeks later. I am sure the stress of losing her cagemate contributed.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 11 September 2009, 09:47 PM
TrishDaDish's Avatar
TrishDaDish TrishDaDish is offline
 
Join Date: 22 February 2004
Location: Portsmouth, RI
Posts: 7,612
Whalephant

Quote:
Originally Posted by Troberg View Post
My vet said this on the subject: "Animals don't grieve, but they do miss someone lost.".
Not to the point of dying as well, but I guess he knows nothing of elephants. Elephants seriously know how to grieve.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 11 September 2009, 10:00 PM
U.T Raptor Red's Avatar
U.T Raptor Red U.T Raptor Red is offline
 
Join Date: 22 January 2004
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 739
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by TrishDaDish View Post
Not to the point of dying as well, but I guess he knows nothing of elephants. Elephants seriously know how to grieve.
And there's Jane Goodall's famous account of a chimpanzee becoming depressed and eventually dying not long after losing his mother...

For what it's worth, the younger of our two dogs was strangely subdued for a while after the older one had to be put to sleep (and in the case of the dogs we had before them, they died within a couple months of each other iirc).
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 11 September 2009, 10:07 PM
geminilee's Avatar
geminilee geminilee is offline
 
Join Date: 02 December 2005
Location: New Orleans, La.
Posts: 11,103
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by TrishDaDish View Post
Not to the point of dying as well, but I guess he knows nothing of elephants. Elephants seriously know how to grieve.
Elephants have funereal rituals, apparently, which makes them different from other animals (except us.)
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 12 September 2009, 04:35 AM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
Join Date: 04 November 2005
Location: Borlänge, Sweden
Posts: 11,368
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by TrishDaDish View Post
Not to the point of dying as well, but I guess he knows nothing of elephants. Elephants seriously know how to grieve.
Quite possible. Elephants are very uncommon as pets in Sweden, so his experience of them is probably limited.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 13 September 2009, 09:10 PM
Loyhargil's Avatar
Loyhargil Loyhargil is offline
 
Join Date: 20 August 2004
Location: Iowa
Posts: 3,708
Default

My parents' dog, DeeDee, was very attached to Dad. When they'd come home from going out, she'd always run up to Dad's side of the vehicle (usually the van) and follow him to the house. After he got very sick with lung cancer and started his "ins and outs" with the hospital, she switched to the passenger side since that's when Mom started driving.

The night he passed, my sister drove Mom home from the hospital, and I followed in my car. When the van pulled into the carport, DeeDee ran to the passenger side, only to see Mom get out. DeeDee stopped cold, then started tail wagging and ran to the driver side assuming he must be back over there, only to see my sister. At which point, DeeDee's tail went between her legs, and she started the most pathetic whimpering I'd ever heard in my life. It was at that point, we all were reduced to tears once again.

DeeDee grieved for days, then somehow decided with Dad gone, she was in charged and needed to protect Mom. She never ever acted like a guard dog before, but she does now that Dad's gone. It's the strangest thing.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 13 September 2009, 09:52 PM
lynnejanet's Avatar
lynnejanet lynnejanet is offline
 
Join Date: 17 December 2003
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 3,465
Default

When I was a teen, we raised rabbits, and one in particular, who became the patriarch of our warren, was my particular pet. I was the primary caretaker of the rabbits, and I hand raised him from a baby. When I went to the Netherlands for a month during early HS, he stopped eating, and my dad had to really cuddle and coax him to get him to ingest anything. By the time I got back he was skin and bones, but he recovered. When I went off to university, he went into a profound decline, and stopped eating again. He wouldn't respond to my dad at all. He was very old by that time, and he didn't live for long after I left. Poor old Bucky.

You can't tell me that animals don't grieve.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 04:53 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.