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Dogs Who Mourn: Meet 4 Who Openly Grieved the Loss of Their Humans

Dogs Who Mourn: Meet 4 Who Openly Grieved the Loss of Their Humans

Never let anyone tell you dogs don’t feel loss when their human companions die. Dogs are complex, devoted animals. They have a keen sense of loyalty. For some dogs, the death of a human friend is devastating and life changing.

These are the stories of four dogs who mourned the loss of their human friends in moving and extraordinary ways.

Little Man: The Dog Who Wouldnt Leave

Ronnie Ward spent a lot of time with his beloved bull terrier, Little Man. It’s no wonder, then, that Little Man refused to leave his side when Ward collapsed and died on July 11, 2014, while walking by the river near Oklahoma City.

Police reported that Little Man stood watch over his deceased friend in blistering near-100 degree heat, never leaving Ward’s side even to drink from the nearby river until Ward’s body could be removed from the scene. Authorities struggled to pull Little Man away from the body, but he fought them every step of the way. Early reports indicated Ward was a homeless man, but that was later determined to be inaccurate.

Little Man showed clear signs of sadness and depression at the animal shelter to which he was taken after police found Ward’s body. He refused to eat, drink or even lift his head.  HLN reported on the dog’s obvious distress at the loss of his companion here:

Don’t worry about Little Man, though. Ward’s daughter has adopted him, happy to give a home to her father’s faithful friend:

Figo: Final Respects to Fallen Police Partner with a Paw on Casket

Kentucky police officer Jason Ellis, 33, died in an ambush in 2013. He was a K-9 officer who worked daily with a police dog named Figo. They’d formed a strong bond, coming to depend on one another as they fought crime together. When Officer Ellis died, there was no question that Figo would attend his funeral along with throngs of other law enforcement workers.

Figo’s devotion touched many around the world when a moving image from the funeral went viral. Figo stepped up to his partner’s casket and touched it with his paw, appearing for all the world as though he was sending an affectionate and sad final farewell to Ellis. See it happen here:

“It seemed like the dog was aware of what was going on,” photographer Jonathan Palmer told Today. “His mannerisms, his posture. He went to the casket and put his paw on it. It was like he was inspecting it.”

The loss of a partner hits hard and Figo had to be retired after the loss of Ellis. The happy ending here is that Ellis family adopted the devoted dog, keeping all those who loved Jason Ellis together forever.

Matilda: She Wont Stop Returning to Scene of Fatal Crash

No one knows her real name, but locals in Makhachkala, Russia, call her Matilda. For at least two years now, the German Shepherd has refused to leave the spot of the car crash that killed her human friend, Artem Makovich.

The police think Makovich was out driving with Matilda, fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a streetlight. Makovich died instantly. Matilda survived, though she was injured.

sad german shepherd

The police took care of her until she recovered. They tried to find her a new adoptive home, but she refuses to stay. She keeps returning to the scene of the accident, lying in the road at the spot where it happened. After several attempts to re-home Matilda, locals now realize that she won’t accept a new family. A kind local cafe owner now ensures she’s fed.

“I really feel sorry for the dog,” the cafe owner told The Daily Star. “She keeps coming back to the last place she saw her owner and must’ve had a great love for him. A few people have tried to take her home but she always runs back to the place where the accident happened.”

Hawkeye: Guarding the Coffin of His Navy SEAL at Funeral

Care2 readers may remember our coverage in 2011 of a Labrador Retriever named Hawkeye, the faithful dog who touched millions at the funeral of Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson.

Tumilson, along with 29 other American troops, died when the Taliban shot down a helicopter in Afghanistan in August 2011. According to media reports, his dog Hawkeye was present for the funeral and did something remarkable right from the beginning of the service.

Hawkeye led Tumilson’s family down the aisle to their seats. He then followed Tumilson’s friend, Scott Nichols, as Nichols approached the podium to eulogize his fallen friend. Hawkeye padded forward, right up to the flag-draped casket. He then lay down on his side next to it with a sigh and remained there for the eulogy and the duration of the funeral.

See a brief snippet of Hawkeye beside Tumilson’s coffin during the funeral service here:

In a fitting final touch to this heartbreaking story, Nichols has adopted Hawkeye. It warms the heart to know that Tumilson’s two best friends have forged their own bond.

Can dogs really grieve for the dead? Behavioral experts are torn. Those who love dogs like the four in this story know the answer, however. Dogs can grieve. Some always will.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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3:02AM PDT on Jul 12, 2015

thanks for the article.

11:18PM PST on Dec 19, 2014

These stories are a true testament to a dog's very loving and loyal nature! Another story that I wish would have been included and which reminded me so much of the tragic story of the German Shepherd named Matilda is the story of Hachiko. This dog lived in Japan and he used to always go with his owner to the train station every morning to see him off to work. But, the man didn't come back one day, because he died at work away from Hachiko so the dog stayed at the train station for the remainder of his life always looking every time the train came in for his long sought companion! He did this for 12 years and finally died at this train station. In Japan they erected a statue of Hachiko at this train station to honor his amazing devotion. A movie was made of this story called “Hachi- A Dog’s Tale." A tragic but beautiful story about the depth of love that a dog can have for his owner! I recommend this movie to all as an unforgettable story about a love that can transcend all boundaries.

10:16AM PDT on Oct 26, 2014

I only hope that no dog of mine survives me! Too sad for words

8:19PM PDT on Oct 13, 2014

These videos were disturbing to me. I wish I hadn't watched them. YES, dogs and all animals that share a strong bond with any human CAN grieve their loss, just as we grieve the loss of our pets and our human family members.

1:37AM PDT on Oct 10, 2014

Animals are the best :-)

6:28AM PDT on Oct 6, 2014

We love our animals and mourn for them when they die - it makes sense that they love and mourn us when we die!!
One of my babies went to the Rainbow Bridge the night before last, and I miss her desperately!! I know she isn't in pain any more, but I am selfish - I wish she were here with me!!

3:22AM PDT on Aug 28, 2014

After going through the article and the videos, I am emotionally fatigued that I have only tearful silence as comment ! How can anyone hurt such a loving animal is beyond me. Even by a look I cannot bear to hurt my pets,

6:46PM PDT on Aug 24, 2014

It has been obvious, for any one who gives a darn to learn and care about animals in general, to see that the animals (including dogs) have emotions which includes love and mourning. Animals are live and complex creatures not the disposable money maker most people think they are. If there is no profit in it they feel it is not worth learning or observing. These stories were heartfelt from the dog's point of view. It showed the true loyalty of a dog which many do not deserve. Maybe that is why they don't believe it is possible.

5:33PM PDT on Aug 19, 2014

No doubth they mourn. I have lost the number of cases I have already seen and read about.

5:06AM PDT on Aug 9, 2014

merci Susan

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