Regular readers of Paws for Thought will know that this page has indeed been paused for a few weeks. Steve King, who died on March 12, had over a hundred of his articles printed here and I hope as Steve would say, to “Keep the tail wagging”.

Though Steve wrote and researched the articles, much of the brainstorming for ideas we did together and there are still many of those ideas on the back burner. Over the coming weeks, I hope to bring them to life.

When a pet loses his human

As humans if someone close to us dies we are affected in unexpected ways and with Steve’s passing I got to wondering how Finn, our labradoodle, would be affected by not having his beloved owner around. Do dogs grieve?

Finn clearly has missed Dad and the first few days he rarely left the door, waiting for Steve to come home. His eating habits didn’t seem to change much but then he is a typical food-loving doodle. Neither did his desire to go for walks. Sleeping habits certainly have changed, he will no longer sleep in his crate which had been his “happy” place since puppyhood. At 9:30pm on the dot, as in the past, Finn still takes himself off to his crate, then he waits until I am in bed with the light off, at which time he takes off and goes to sleep on the sofa. I’ve accepted that this is going to be his new norm, guessing that in his mind Dad may come in and he doesn’t want to miss him if he does.

In Pet Helpful: April 17 2022 Judy Hberg writes on dogs grieving the loss of their owner: “If your dog recently lost a cherished companion-human or otherwise-it is very normal for them to mourn that loss. While some dogs, show physical symptoms of grief, others may only display behavioral changes. Some dogs may not display any noticeable changes at all, but be grieving nonetheless. No matter how your pup’s grief manifests, there are things you can do to help”.

If you are concerned about significant changes consult your dog’s vet. Some of the things to look out for would include declining weight due to refusing to eat, reduced energy level and sleeping more than usual during the day, disinterest in play and fewer or reduced interactions with others

As with humans, there are things that can be done to help. The best thing you can do for your dog is to stick to the usual routine as much as possible. Providing extra love and affection will help. Some dogs, like Finn, thrive on human contact. He loves a massage! Have special treats available but don’t overdo these, as you don’t want your dog to have an excess weight gain. Above all be patient with your dog. Just like us human dogs take time to grieve.

I will leave you with a final story from an article Steve wrote about “Famous Dogs in History”.

Capitan, a German Shepherd was one of the most loyal dogs in history.

After his master, Manuel Guzman, died in 2006, Capitán’s family thought he had run away. But a few days later, when the family was visiting Guzman’s grave, they found Capitán devotedly waiting near the gravesite. Capitán visited his family briefly each day, but always returned to Guzman’s grave before nightfall and stayed there until the cemetery staff arrive the next morning. This happened continuously for seven years.

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