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Experts say our four-legged friends go through an emotional process
much like ours when facing loss
TORONTO -- While more than a thousand people gathered last week to
mourn the passing of prized Toronto police horse Brigadier, were his
stable mates grieving as well?
One of the herd is missing. And they're probably aware, says one
equine behaviour expert; many companion animals share emotional
responses strikingly similar to our own.
"The longer and closer their association has been, the more strongly
and the longer they are likely to grieve," says Dr. Jessica Jahiel,
internationally-known horse trainer and lecturer. "That's not too
different from the way humans react, is it?"
The emotional lives of animals have been carefully researched and
documented in books and articles, including grief which has been
observed in many wild species and companion animals following the
death of a pack member. A deep attachment in their social group is
common among many in the animal kingdom; intricate funeral rituals are
even followed by elephants, including mourning at the gravesite for
A study by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals reveals that animals experience emotional responses to
significant upheaval in their environment: 66% of dogs exhibited four
or more behavioural changes after losing a pet companion.
Grieving pets may also continue to look for their dead companion, says
renowned canine expert Dr. Stanley Coren, who believes social animals,
especially dogs and horses, love and suffer. They form deep
attachments with each other and "when grieving, they show certain
behaviours similar to humans."
Owners can help the surviving pet adjust to the loss by giving them
something to do, advises Coren. "Change their circumstances a bit,
engage them in their favourite activity and introduce them to new
friends -- the same things you'd do for a human."
full story: http://www.ottawasun.com/Lifestyle/2006/03/16/1490413-sun.html