Pets grieve too
The death of a beloved pet is never easy. More often than not it involves the owner making the painful decision to euthanise the pet to limit the animal's suffering.
Our elder dog Jessie collapsed Saturday September 12, 2015, and that was the outcome.
The wounds are still raw and her story is on hold a little while longer.
So for now this is the story of her companion Tinka and the effect Jessie's death had on him.
Tinka was a rescue dog like Jessie. He came to us aged about three, almost fiver y years ago.
His name was Tonka which was at odds with his small build. He was fairly timid but he had a past and it involved biting.
We were told his owner, an elderly man, had died and Tonka as he was at that time had been passed around a few homes. Tinka took it hard and grieved for his owner.
We were his last chance as he was due for the chop because of his biting.
We decided to take a chance and he is a gem although there have been problems.
He has bitten me more than once; one time I needed hospital treatment and the wound on my hand took its time to heal.
But the biting is out of fear.
If he gets anxious he trembles, or shakes, and if pushed he lashes out; he is quick and has sharp little teeth that do damage quickly.
One time his bite was following surgery when he was still woozy and in pain.
When he came to live with us Jessie had been here at least 8 or 9 years. Our rescue dog Leo had succumbed to an enlarged heart and died a few years earlier.
When Leo died a part of us all died with him and that included Jessie. The oomf went out of her and fast.
Tinka breezed in and was a breath of fresh air; he was complicated but there was always a sweet dog in there trying to get out.
Jessie was a calm, good-natured dog who looked like a pony compared to tiny Tinka but they got on well.
So just as Jessie grieved for Leo, Tinka is mourning the loss of Jess. They had a different, and briefer, relationship to Jess and Leo but there was still a bond.
For the first week following Jessie's death Tinka slipped back into timidity.
When the vet arrived to euthanise Jessie, Tinka stayed in another room, sat on a chair and shook from head to foot.
We reassured him as time allowed and of course since that day have continued to work with him to rebuild his confidence.
But here is one telling fact.
The veterinarian came into the house through our front door; Tinka then refused to leave the house through that door.
Due to his 'issues' you cannot simply grab him or lift him out as he may attack if scared.
We found that opening the back door of the house, then the garage door to the tenfoot and calling him worked well.
Tinks would come running through and allow his lead to be attached to his collar.
We would then take our 'walkies' coming back into the house through the front door.
Each time we would try to coax him to the front door first and in time it worked but it took time and patience.
Dogs have bags of heart and a good memory; for a while Tinka associated the front door with the vet and Jessie's body being taken out of the house, never to return.
He may not have been able to make sense of it but he sensed it was not a good outcome.
The lesson has to be-when you are grieving the loss of a pet dog spare a thought for other dogs that may live with you.
They too will be grieving but they do not understand language and cannot be told what has happened and why. That may not be rocket science but people do forget.
Tinka's needs helped us through this sad time but we all need to grieve and that takes time.
And remember tjat goes for family pets too.
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