Today’s post on the grieving of animals truly hit home for me. Since Dusty’s death, her canine companion of seven years, Eddy, is showing what seem to me at least intimations of grief. At first: nada. Yes, she was howling when we came back to our house after putting Dusty to sleep. But that was because, we assumed, the two of us almost never leave the house with Dusty and without Eddy. She felt left out of something – and, of course, she was right.
Then she seemed almost giddy with excitement and high spirits. She could finally eat her food without having Dusty inhale her own bowl in around 30 seconds and then hover behind Eddy waiting to eat hers as well. For seven years, Eddy had to eat the food right away or guard it. Most of the time, she was forced to eat it very quickly or starve. So the day after Dusty was no longer in the house, Eddy left her food in the bowl for hours. She’d take a nap or go for a little walk-around, blissfully liberated from the food stealer.
When we prepared to take her out for a walk all by herself, she would do a full body-wag even more enthusiastically than usual, jumping into the air in little spasms of joy. Trips we hadn’t made before because Dusty was too debilitated or boisterous, we now could make with Eddy by herself. So she became completely besotted with one of my best friend’s boat, running into the bay in order to jump up on it, sitting upright in it, her nose twitching with the sea breezes. For days, she seemed extremely happy.
And then, after a week or so, something changed quite suddenly.
Her demeanor shifted to sadness and quiet. She didn’t just leave her food around to eat at leisure; she stopped eating in the morning altogether. It was almost as tough as getting her to eat in the evening as well. On walks, she trailed behind, moving slowly, tugging at the end of a long leash, as if not really wanting to go anywhere. It happened after about a week – perhaps because that was when it became unmistakable that Dusty wasn’t just away for a bit – but was, in fact, never coming back.
Is this grief? We cannot ever know. But it sure feels like it. They were never that close, because Dusty was never very close with any other earthly being, including me. But the time spent together adds up – and Eddy was always a pack animal, much happier when we four were all together than when one of us went missing. Now, one part of that family is missing for good. And I’m not the only one still aching at the sight of one crate where there only recently were two.