DEAR DR. FOX: After my husband passed away, our dog was very depressed for several days. She had no interest in her food or regular walks. Knowing from your books how animals can grieve, I gave her extra TLC; after about three weeks, she got back to her regular routines, but it is like a spark has gone out of her.
What really stood out, though, was her behavior around the time my husband died. A bit before the hospital called to tell me his heart had failed (after a long illness), Sophie became very restless. She whined and kept running to the door and crying, and then came to lie down next to me. It was like she knew that my husband had died.
Just wanted you to know that dogs seem to know things we don’t. -- J.M., St. Louis, Missouri
DEAR J.M.: My condolences to you and your family. Many, but not all, animals grieve after the passing of a family member with whom they were close, be it a human or another animal. I would like to hear from other readers about how their animals reacted after such a sad event: what behaviors they showed, how long they were in mourning and what helped them recover.
I am especially interested in animals seeming to sense when a loved one has died, sustained a severe injury or been hospitalized. I have summarized some of these instances of “remote sensing” or empathic connectedness on my website under the article title “The Emapthosphere: Animal Prescience, Remote Sensing and Life After Life.”
I would welcome hearing about similar events from readers whose animals may have shown such awareness around the time of death of someone they knew, but who passed away outside their homes.
2018: THE YEAR OF THE DOG
From the Chinese Zodiac (thechinesezodiac.org):
“According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2018 is the year of the Dog, and its characteristic word is ACTION! Chinese New Year in 2018 is on Friday, Feb. 16. ... In Chinese astrology, each zodiac year (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig) is not just associated with an animal sign, but also one of five elements: Gold (Metal), Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. The year of 2018 meets the element of Earth, so 2018 is an Earth Dog Year.
“The Chinese Horoscope 2018 predicts that this year of the Brown Earth Dog is going to be a good year in all respects, but it will also be an exhausting year. You will be happy, yet frustrated; rested, yet tired; cheerful, yet dull! Is this going to be a beneficial year for Donald Trump? Or will the Dog Year be an unlucky year for (the rare) American president who has no dog?”
Dr. Fox here: For my part, I would not put dogs in the hands of those people who evidently lack the best qualities of dogs -- the qualities that make them honest, empathetic and trustworthy companions, faithful to the end, and who reflect and inspire our humanity.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxVet.net.)