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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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303 comments

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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

10:13AM PDT on Aug 8, 2014

Animals become attached to us humans, so why wouldn't they morn their loosing us? not just dogs. I volunteer at a shelter and see it in cats that come in after loosing their ill owners.

12:07AM PDT on Jul 31, 2014

Yes dogs do grieve a loss, sometimes for a longer period of time than humans. It is hard for me to see a dog suffering the loss of a beloved human friend.
Thank You for sharing such touching stories, and most had happy endings, if a close relative or known good friend gives them a new home and understands.

5:50PM PDT on Jul 30, 2014

how can anyone think that animals don't have complex emotions? foolish!

2:41PM PDT on Jul 30, 2014

like we had to read an article to know this

8:51AM PDT on Jul 28, 2014

animals who grieve always get to me, for some reason it hits me harder than seeing humans grieve

1:32AM PDT on Jul 28, 2014

Some of the most beautiful and heartfelt relationships will be with the dogs you've had in your life. I had a very special and unique relationship with all my dogs and I will never forget any experience or time that I spent with them! Sometimes when I hear a beautiful melody, or go to a place that resembles a walk that I took with one of them, or have a fleeting memory of them smiling at me with such happiness in their face, riding in the car with me when I went on an errand, running up a hill and playing fetch with them, or taking them for a walk in the woods, and having them accompany me and my little daughter as we would go to the playground or walk to school- these are some of the most beautiful and fondest memories of my life and I will forever cherish them! Dogs are very complex emotionally and they experience grief and love with the same intensity that we do! And this is why they mourn so for their loved ones that have passed on. They are our greatest companions and we mourn the loss of them too- and the memories of them always continue to haunt us for the remainder of our lives- and we hope that we will be reunited with them in the afterlife- that truly would be heaven!

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