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.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Christine Jones
Christine J3 years ago

Yes dogs grieve, just like other animals.
My much-loved foster dog was recently adopted after just short of a year with me. My dear old cat spent the first few days afterwards being very vocal, looking around the house for his friend. Many times he'd sit next to me on the couch, look directly at me, and touch me with his paw. It was very clear that he was asking me to explain. That's the only trouble with animal/human relationships. I couldn't explain to my foster dog that he wasn't being abandoned yet again; he was going to a lovely new home. I couldn't explain to my cat that his friend was ok and he shouldn't worry.
It's all worth it though.

Glennis Whitney
Glennis Whitney3 years ago

Beautiful articles. Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis Whitney
Glennis Whitney3 years ago

Wonderful but sad stories. Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis Whitney
Glennis Whitney3 years ago

Animals mourn like humans. Thank you for caring and sharing

Erika Acosta
Erika Acosta3 years ago


Carole R.
Carole R3 years ago

Not only do animals mourn their lost humans but they mourn the loss of other family pets. It is so sad for everyone it touches.

Fi T.
Past Member 3 years ago

It's only the human merciless

Kathy K.
Kathy K3 years ago

Very touching. thanks for sharing.

Priscilla Laybolt

Certainly sad to read and view, of course they feel and mourn, after all they have a heart the same as humans.

Danielle I.
Danielle I3 years ago

I have witnessed the depths of griefs many animals go through after losing their owner or animal friends. I lost my Staffy over a year ago & his 'sister', 4 years his junior grieved as much as I. Even today she is not the same girl :( She is happy & has a new buddy but neither of us will be quite the same after losing such a beautiful loving friend.. I couldn't watch the videos. Reading had me in tears :( I just hope I never leave this earth before any of my beloved pets. Lots of wonderful comments here! Gives me hope in the human race, which sadly is not always the case. Namaste & Blessings to all who Love all creatures with all their hearts