Can Dogs Grieve for Lost Owners?

September 3, 2011

Leao, a dog in Brazil, sits vigil at her owner’s gravesite
after the fatal landslides in January 2011.

There’s some controversy among those who seriously study dogs over the phenomenon of grieving dogs. Certainly there are stories from the past like the famous Greyfriars Bobbythat recent research shows to be almost certainly a Victorian-era publicity stunt crafted to increase the tourist trade in Edinburgh.

But this article in The WeekThe Phenomenon of Grieving Dogs – the Ultimate Loyalty gives moving examples of dogs displaying “courageous acts of loyalty.” One commentator on the YouTube video of the two dogs in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake in March 2011 said what most dog owners earnestly believe: “That dog is a better person than most humans.”

My own view is similar to Mark Twain’s (although I don’t think there’s any reason to believe in an afterlife): “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”


Got something to say?

You must be logged in to post a comment.