Friday, July 31, 2015

Dear Abby: When the Pack Grows Smaller - Helping Grieving Dogs

Dear Friends,

This week we have a question from my friend Angela.  I will post her question and my answer, and hope you will join in with any suggestions or tips in the comments below.   

Thanks, and love to all!

Angela's family lost their precious little dog Teddy recently.   He is the cute little black dog pictured in the photo above (back left).  His brothers are Gizmo, the little brown dachshund (foreground), and Sarge, the big sweet dog (back right).

You will find another photo of the brothers together, below:  (left to right)  Sarge, Gizmo, and Teddy.

Angela writes that Gizmo and Sarge are really missing Teddy.  "Teddy just provided the energy and enthusiasm. My dad and I were talking about how much the house feels empty without Teddy. He really was a spark plug. Sarge and Gizmo just lay around and act depressed. They get happy for brief moments but other than that, they just lounge around looking morose. That had been my question for Abby. Since she lost a 'brofur' just like Gizmo and Sarge, how did she cope with the loss?"

Dear Gizmo and Sarge,

I am so sorry about Teddy.  I have heard many stories about him, and know he was a special, fun, lively boy ... and an important part of your family.

I lost my beloved brother Barney Fife last September, and I still think about him every day.  Momma says we were bonded.  I believe this means we loved each other and were inseparable.  Yes, that sounds right: bonded.

At first it was very hard.  Barney went to the vet and he didn't come home.  Momma was sad and she cried, and I missed my brother and didn't understand what was happening.  After a day or two, I figured it out.  I felt sad too.  I was very quiet and stuck to Momma like glue.

Here are things that helped.  Momma told our neighborhood friends about Barney.   They gave me extra attention and their dogs socialized with me even more than usual when we met them on walks.   Visiting with other dogs was really nice.

And about walks -- we started going on extra walks.  Lots of time outside!   I kept very busy.  Being busy helped.

Friends and family came over, as they usually do, but they brought treats and toys and gave me lots of extra attention.  I liked that.

I found a special plush toy that belonged to Barney and I made it my lovie.  I still carry it around and snuggle with it, and sometimes like to sleep with it.  It reminds me of my brother.

Momma gave me extra cuddles and attention, and I liked that too.  I did not think that Momma could love me more than she already did, but it seems like that happened.

We turned on lights and played music and tried to fill the house with happy noise.

We still miss Barney and think of him every day, but more and more we remember the good times spent with him.

I am thinking of you both, and your Mom and family too, and sending you many good and comforting thoughts.  You have friends and family who loved Teddy and who love you both and want you to be happy again.  I hope some of these suggestions help you.

With love and hugs,