S3E1: What you can do to help a grieving pet

Do pets grieve the loss of their housemates? A study reported in Scientific Reports had a Mourning Dog Questionnaire completed by 426 Italian adults who had owned at least two dogs, one of whom died while the other was still alive.

Researchers found researchers found that “a dog may show grief-related behavioral and emotional patterns when a close conspecific dies, with aspects of the latter possibly related to the owner’s emotional status.” 

dog and cat walking on meadow path. Engaging in normal activities helps with pet grieving after a loss
Photo by Rijaij, Pixabay

The study, which assessed many different behavior patterns, concluded that 66% of dogs experienced four or more behavioral changes after the loss of a family pet which indicated grief. Common signs associated with mourning are:

  • 36% of dogs experienced a decreased appetite following the loss of a canine companion.
  • Approximately 11% refused to eat at all.
  • Many dogs slept more than usual while some suffered insomnia.
  • Some dogs changed the area of the house where they slept.
  • About 63% of dogs exhibited changes in vocal patterns, with some vocalizing more, while others were quieter than they were prior to their loss of a human companion.
  • Surviving dogs were often more affectionate with their owners and became clingy.

Listen to the episode for more details on what this study discovered and how you can help ease the transition for your furry friends.

Related Podcasts for this Episode:


Saying Goodbye to Belker

The author of this is unknown, but the words are beautiful:

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a 10yr old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience. The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker‘s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that dogs’ lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ”I know why.”

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.
He said, ”People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The six-year-old continued, ”Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay for as long as we do.”

”People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The six-year-old continued, ”Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay for as long as we do.”

6-year old Shane

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

  • When your loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
  • Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
  • Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.
  • Take naps.
  • Stretch before rising.
  • Run, romp, and play daily.
  • Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
  • Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
  • On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
  • On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
  • When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
  • Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
  • Be faithful.
  • Never pretend to be something you’re not.
  • If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
  • When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

These are the secrets to happiness that we can learn from a good dog.

Recipe of the Week

It’s our second birthday here at Everyone Dies!

Bring out the Cowbell!

Marianne shared about how growing up one of their favorite cakes was tomato soup cake. She liked it because of the frosting, and because it was strange to have cake with tomato soup in it.  (And if you know Marianne…she likes strange things!)

So, in celebration of our second birthday she thought we would step back in time to this cake.  In 2010 – when Marianne’s sister was in hospice care – she drove to Michigan for what she knew would be her last visit with her. They started talking about food that they liked, and tomato soup cake came up. Marianne’s sister had their mom’s recipe book that contained all the recipes collected from newspapers, neighbors, family, and friends. So they pulled out mom’s notebook and strolled down memory lane via the recipes and where they came from.

From Everyone Dies:

As they looked through that notebook, they found the recipe for tomato soup cake.  Her sister had a can of tomato soup and so, she made the cake for her.  It was great to chat with her as she baked; the smell through the house was wonderful. Once cooled and frosted she took a slice over to her, she took one bite and said it was as she remembered it and that was all she wanted.  Marianne took a bite and although she remembered mom’s tasting better, the cream cheese frosting was still wonderful!

This recipe, as strange as it is, really tastes good! It probably started back in WWII shortages, and the acid in the tomatoes worked perfectly with baking soda to help the cake rise. The soup also had pectin and gelatinized starch that helped lock in the moisture. Campbell’s soup reported that people are still looking up the recipe years later as the recipe is touted as “mystery cake.” Because every generation loves a party trick with a big reveal…

From Everyone Dies:

Everyone Dies: and yes, it is normal!

Everyone Dies (and yes, it is normal) is a story about a young boy named Jax who finds something special on the beach where he and his grandpa Pops are enjoying a wonderful day. Pops helps Jax understand that death is a normal part of life. This book provides an age appropriate, non-scary, comfortable way to introduce the important topic of mortality to a preschool child. Its simple explanation will last a lifetime. Autographed copies for sale at: www.everyonediesthebook.com. Also available at Amazon

Mourning Jewelry
mourning jewelry earings

We offer a way to memorialize your loved one or treasured pet with a piece of handmade jewelry.  When people comment on it and the wearer can say for example “I received this when my mother died” which opens the conversation about this loss. All our jewelry is made with semi-precious stones and beads, vintage beads, and pearls. You can choose between earrings or bracelets and the color family. Learn More

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