K9 corner 0915

September 15, 2004

New pup can distract dogs in time of grief

What do you do when you are told that your old dog has only months left to live, or what do you do if your young dog goes into deep depression when a senior member of the pack dies? The answer to both questions is to get a canine companion puppy.

While this is not exactly what most dog owners expect to hear, it really works in most cases. Take for example my 2-year-old dog that went into a several month-long depression when the canine leader of his pack died. I was determined that he would not suffer like that when the next oldest dog's time came, so I purchased a puppy.

I introduced the pup while both adult dogs were still alive. Often, a puppy will revitalize the oldest dog as well as bond with the other adult members.


That didn't happen in my family. The oldest dog was 13 and couldn't be bothered with the puppy antics. If pestered enough, she would get up and walk away. Not so with the younger adult, he would encourage the pup to play and allow her to climb on top of him to chew on her toys. He protected her and allowed her to sleep snuggled against his side.

He even tolerated the most atrocious teasing. I brought a yeast roll back after eating out and broke off a big chunk for the adult dog and a tiny piece for the pup. The adult swallowed his in one gulp, but the pup held hers in her mouth as she watched her buddy. Guessing how much he enjoyed his treat, she marched up and dropped her treat about 16 inches away from his nose and backed off watching him intently. The older animal nearly drooled as he looked at the morsel and then the pup. Finally he took a step toward the roll, stopped and looked at the pup again. She didn't move. He took another step forward; the pup remained frozen in place. He started to lower his head toward the piece of roll. In a blur of action, the pup charged in, nipped him on the nose as she snatched the treat and raced to the other side of the kitchen.

The worst part was, she repeated this three times before eating her morsel and the adult dog never seemed to catch on that he was being teased.

Then the oldest dog died. That evening the adult male curled himself up in a corner of the kitchen and closed his eyes. I brought the pup in. She was used to playing with him at that time of the evening, so she trotted over. No response. She dragged his toys over and pulled them up on to his back. No response. She nudged him, no response. She got mad and grabbed his beard and pulled with all her strength, he yelped, jumped up and reluctantly played with her. He forgot to be sad.


Central Kentucky News Articles