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Roy Green: Sunny the Yorkie has grieved with me. Now it’s my turn to grieve with him

Click to play video: 'Do animals grieve?' Do animals grieve?
From July 2017. Experts say evidence exists to back up the claim that common pets such as dogs and cats grieve the loss of a family member or animal companion – Jul 26, 2017

“It’s gone quiet in our house (again).” That’s the headline of a piece I posted here in September 2017, as a follow up to “our dogs have gone silent,” posted in 2015 following the death of my wonderful wife.

Each piece dealt with Rocky the Bichon and Sunny the Yorkie, two lovable little guys with a bottomless appetite for adventure and a determination to share their views. Loudly.

READ MORE: It’s gone quiet in our house (again), Roy Green says

They were tight, a pack of two who would often sleep nose-to-tail. On a walk on a trail in the park, Sunny would follow his pal Rocky’s every step. They shared food, including treats, without ever a grumpy protest.

Although he’d been a family member for nine years, because he was a rescue dog we didn’t know Rocky’s actual age. He’d become blind and almost completely deaf. Even his nose, which during deteriorating health had served as the last remaining navigational beacon, was failing. There were collisions with solid objects he’d previously plotted his way around. He’d fall negotiating one step into the back yard.

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Sunny had become aware of his pal’s difficulties, I think. He seemed more protective of Rocky, on one occasion nudging him away from stairs.

WATCH BELOW: (From January 2018) Heartbreaking video shows dog taking solace in stuffed animals after losing puppies

Click to play video: 'Heartbreaking video shows dog taking solace in stuffed animals after losing puppies' Heartbreaking video shows dog taking solace in stuffed animals after losing puppies
Heartbreaking video shows dog taking solace in stuffed animals after losing puppies – Jan 12, 2018

I’m told dogs don’t experience emotion, yet I’m looking at a little body curled in Rocky’s bed, something Sunny would not have done previously.

Reaching for Sunny’s harness previously resulted in excited yips, vertical leaps and spinning in circles. Now, it’s largely met with indifference.  At the park, the usually active terrier trots alongside showing little interest in investigation or claiming territory, as dogs usually will.

What is different now compared to when I posted in 2015 and ’17? On those occasions, the dogs had each other to lean on. No longer.

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I feel the inevitable guilt and loss. Should I have waited? Was there something which might have been done?

READ MORE: Dealing with pet grief

Rocky and Sunny helped me through the single most difficult experience of my life. We were tight. What can I now do for Sunny?

My friend Stanley Coren, psychology professor emeritus at UBC and an international dog behaviour expert and show judge, told me that Sunny will adjust.

Coren just this week posted a piece called “Are there dogs in heaven?” on his Canine Corner blog for Psychology Today magazine. If entry is at all predicated on merit, dogs will indeed be present.

I’ll be speaking with Coren on Sunday’s program.

Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.

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