Sad little puppy
June 25, 2006 5:08 AM   Subscribe

One of my sisters dogs had to be put to sleep due to cancer, her other dog, a Jack Russel Terrier is really taking it hard. She won't eat, isn't playful and mopes around the other dog's bed. Right now I'm mostly worried about the lack of food, she's a small dog, any suggestions on what to do?
posted by substrate to Pets & Animals (19 answers total)
 
As soon as possible, take her to a dog park/public dog run so she can interact and play. Most communities have them. And try not to worry, she'll eat eventually-- just leave some food out 24/7. And give her extra attention and cuddles right now.
posted by GoodJob! at 6:33 AM on June 25, 2006


How long has it been since the other dog died? And is the Jack Russell alone now for long stretches of time? If so, I'll second the suggestion for finding ways to let her interact with other dogs. Does she have other dog friends that visit? She might get perked up by their presence.
posted by mediareport at 6:51 AM on June 25, 2006


Is it an option to bring a new puppy in the house? Seems to me Jack likes the close company of other dogs and I would bet a new relationship would ensue.
posted by walleeguy at 7:33 AM on June 25, 2006


She's not alone very often, though she doesn't like it when she is (and never has). She likes it best when my sisters family is at my parents house and if I'm visiting she's in 7th heaven. My parents have a dog as well and right now that's the only food she is getting (she steals their dogs food). She doesn't really have any other dogs than that she socializes with and I'm not at all sure how she'd behave in a dog park.
posted by substrate at 7:58 AM on June 25, 2006


I'd agree with walleeguy, I think getting another puppy would be a great option, because it would provide her (the jack russel) with company.
posted by alon at 8:58 AM on June 25, 2006


Sorry about your sister's loss. I think getting a puppy is a good idea, but I really would suggest trying to find out how she'd socialize with a dog other than your parents -- Jack Russells can be aggressive little things (I say this with affection -- I'm a terrier person, and even though I've never had a JR I've known a few fairly well) and it would be a good idea to introduce her to some dogs other than the two she's already known, just to see how she might react if a puppy's brought into her territory. Some dog parks have special areas or hours reserved for small or timid dogs, so maybe that's an option to ease her into the process of socializing with the other little butt-sniffers.
posted by scody at 9:53 AM on June 25, 2006


Dogs don't "mourn" the way people do. This dog is showing signs of distress because her routine (which included time with the other dog) was interrupted. You need to re-train the dog with a new, consistent routine. Consistent walks, consistent feeding times, etc. To a certain extent, you have to treat this dog as if it were brand new to you. But you have to be consistent, consistent, consistent with the new routines.

Getting a new dog isn't a cure. Getting a new dog is a new routine and social environment for both dogs. There's nothing wrong with getting a new dog, per se, but you're not going to make the old dog "feel better" merely because a new dog is around. Dogs are not humans!
posted by frogan at 12:21 PM on June 25, 2006


Frogan - seconded!
posted by A189Nut at 1:01 PM on June 25, 2006


Dogs don't "mourn" the way people do...Dogs are not humans!

Are you saying dogs don't "mourn" - i.e., miss the presence of a recently deceased dog in an emotional way - at all?
posted by mediareport at 2:57 PM on June 25, 2006


OK, I think anthropomorphism gets a bad rap.

Dogs don't "mourn" the way people do.
Then
This dog is showing signs of distress because her routine (which included time with the other dog) was interrupted. You need to re-train the dog with a new, consistent routine. Consistent walks, consistent feeding times, etc. To a certain extent, you have to treat this dog as if it were brand new to you. But you have to be consistent, consistent, consistent with the new routines.

How does the second bit not also apply to a human in mourning? While it's true that dogs aren't people, it's also true we're both animals.

This has been a tangent, sorry.
posted by Wood at 3:48 PM on June 25, 2006


Thanks guys, I don't think a new dog is in the stars for a few reasons, one of which is that this particular JRT doesn't like change. I'll talk to my sis about giving the dog a new routine and making sure when she goes to my parents place (she's there every day) she brings her along.
posted by substrate at 4:20 PM on June 25, 2006


I think anthropomorphism gets a bad rap.

Well, unless you believe that humans are the only animal to have an emotional life, it's hardly anthropomorphism to address other animals' emotional needs. It seems to me a key assumption underneath frogan's answer is that dogs can't feel sadness at the loss of a longtime companion. I think that's a completely unsupported assumption, and treating the dog to extra helpings of affection and attention right now is probably more important than starting up a strict new routine. Hordes of new Dog Whisperer fans notwithstanding, it is possible to honor a dog's emotional life without losing control of the relationship.

substrate, you still haven't mentioned how long it's been since the dog's death. If it was a long illness, the terrier probably knew something was wrong, and a few days of sadness doesn't seem out of the ordinary. Some folks also swear by allowing the animal to see and smell the dead body of its pal, but it's probably too late for that now.
posted by mediareport at 6:32 PM on June 25, 2006


sorry, he was put to sleep on Tuesday. Maggie (the JRT) tends to obssess over things which is part of the reason for worry, like she'll get spooked by say the snap of a horizontal blind and she'll stay spooked forever... which is a true thing with her, if you go near horizontal blinds when she's around she'll flip out.
posted by substrate at 7:11 PM on June 25, 2006


Are you saying dogs don't "mourn" - i.e., miss the presence of a recently deceased dog in an emotional way - at all?

Yep.

Well, let me put it this way ... it's impossible to know whether dogs have abstract emotions (e.g. love) in the same way that people do. We can't ask them. We can't test for it. But we silly humans like to interpret their "emotions" based on the animal's behaviors and from our own perspective. We mourn the missing dog. The other dog starts to act funny. Ergo, the dog is mourning, too. That's anthropomorphism at its finest.

Look at it from a different perspective. If dogs had human-esque emotions, why are they deliriously happy eating the same food and drinking the same flavor of water every single day of their lives? It's because the human concept of "boredom of sameness" is alien to them. Change a dog's food and they're weirded out for a little while. They like it the same way every day.

treating the dog to extra helpings of affection and attention right now is probably more important than starting up a strict new routine

All you're going to do is a) make yourself feel better and b) introduce a new routine that consists of extra helpings of affection -- a routine that the dog will have to adjust out of when you stop.

I love my dog with all of my heart. At the same time, I'm certain that to her, I'm just the guy with the opposable thumbs that is occassionally useful for walks and back-scratches.
posted by frogan at 8:24 PM on June 25, 2006


[frogan, happy to continue via email since we've exhausted the usefulness in the thread, but you don't have an address listed. Feel free to email me and we can talk about whether it's only dogs or all animals that lack an emotional life.]
posted by mediareport at 8:53 PM on June 25, 2006


I've had a couple of vets specifically enquire as to how the other animals in the household are handling a death, so they certainly find mourning reactions to happen often enough to be noticeable.

The fact that she eats the parents' dog's food when visiting suggests to me that she perks up around the other dog and the extra attention from people.

I also think it's possible that as a sensitive puppy, she's picking up the distress of her owners. So trying to be more cheerful around her and get her to have fun at least an hour or two a day, and around mealtimes might help.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 8:58 PM on June 25, 2006


mediareport, I really liked When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals. Sounds like you might like it too.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 8:59 PM on June 25, 2006


Wow, I'm always stunned when people assert dogs don't have the same emotions as people. It's completely obvious to me that they do indeed share the same emotional coil.
posted by agregoli at 9:24 AM on June 26, 2006


As an aside and to derail my own question I think that animals do have emotions. This same dog is afraid of men, especially large men (except for me) and fear is an emotion. She's also happiest when the entire household is together but she falls to pieces if my sister isn't around. I suppose it's learned behaviour or a routine or something, but I don't see how it's any different than the learned behaviour or routine that makes people feel safe when they're home with their family.
posted by substrate at 6:14 PM on June 26, 2006


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