Sunday, March 6, 2011

Letter to Dr. Fox: Dog Understood Master's Death

Our friend Maureen forwarded this letter that appeared in a syndicated newspaper column: Animal Doctor, Dr. Michael Fox:about an amazing dog. 

Dear Dr. Fox — I'm writing in response to your recent column about how a "dog's devotion to master can lead to the grave." It is similar to what occurred with our golden retriever more than 20 years ago when my husband died at 46 after a four-year battle with cancer. During my husband's illness, Friday laid beside his bed, provided support when my husband walked, and never left his side. He obviously knew something was wrong and was devoted to his master.

Before my husband was ill, he was a senior sports-and-news cameraman for a major TV station. Owing to the nature of his assignments, my husband's work hours were unpredictable. Regardless of the hour, Friday always knew when my husband was headed home and ran to the front door, wagging his tail and sitting patiently until my husband's car pulled into the driveway.

After my husband's death (in the hospital), Friday sat at the front door all day, every day, whining and waiting for my husband's return. He stopped eating and wouldn't leave the front hallway. He refused to play with our children whom he loved because "guard duty" was his only purpose. He left his post only when he needed to be waked. My heart was breaking for this dog.

After one week of watching Friday's vigil, I decided to help him understand what happened. Hesitantly, Friday left his post and got into the car with me. His car behavior was unusual: He paced from window to window, looking everywhere for my husband. I drove to the cemetery, and we walked together toward my husband's gravesite. As we got closer, Friday pulled away from me and ran directly to my husband's grave. He lay down on the grave, closed his eyes, and just stayed there, quietly. I didn't try to talk to Friday or to disturb him — he needed to grieve, too. After an hour, Friday got up and walked over to me, using his mouth to hand me his leash. He was ready to go home.

On the way back home, Friday laid down quietly in the backseat. After we arrived home, he kept kissing my hands as if to say "thank you" and never again sat by the front door waiting for my husband to return home. He now understood. Although obviously sad, his behavior returned to normal around the children and he began eating again. In time, he healed as we did. — L.B.J., Lake Worth, Fla.

Dear L.B.J. — Many readers will join me in thanking you for this remarkable example of giving a dog closure with regard to your husband whom Friday thought was perhaps still alive. Your devoted dog clearly advances our understanding of how much some dogs really do know and feel. We should never underestimate their ability to comprehend and make every effort, as you did, during such difficult times of bereavement to help them when they are grieving.
Dr. Fox, c/o "Animal Doctor," United Features Syndicate, 200 Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10016

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Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next