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Thread: Dogs going off to die alone, any theories why?

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    Dogs going off to die alone, any theories why?

    A local families king charles spaniel Holly went missing this week, she was old and had a heart condition so her owners were frantic. It turns out that she went down to the bottom of the garden and got in behind the shed to lie down for one last sleep in a safe familiar place. I think its sad but beautiful at the same time.

    Apparantly its common in dogs to the point that dogs dying with company is the exception rather then the rule but theres no real reason why with diverse breeds from different life styles tend to do the same thing... is it wolfish behavior so the pack isnt slowed down? Is it to die with dignity? Is it because the dog doesnt love its owners anymore?

    Personally I think its probably an old inbuilt wolfish type behavior, it couldnt be cultural or the different lifestyles dogs lead would mean it wouldnt be so common. Probably a return to the den of puppyhood. Like we begin our lives being looked after by family, then we grow and have children of our own, then we decline and in our later years end our lives being looked after by family. Its a cyclical thing that appeals to me.

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    Sr. Member orchestrion's Avatar
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    Re: Dogs going off to die alone, any theories why?

    Ugh that's so sad. I get way too emotional about sad pet stories.
    When my dog was weakening from a neurological condition he became completely vicious. We were scared of him. We wanted to hold him and comfort him but he acted like he was poised to tear our throats out. I don't know if his condition just completely deteriorated his mind or his memory of us, but I think a lot of animals get very defensive when they feel themselves becoming weak. I don't think they realize their mortality and think something along the lines of "I can't let anyone see me weak, they might take advantage" and that it's just feral instinct. So some respond with violence and some hide but it's both to protect themselves from potential threats that would take advantage of their state and their natural instinct to survive kicks in.
    I don't know though. There are probably studies that talk about this.
    Last edited by orchestrion; 06 Jul 2012 at 22:49.

    selume proferre

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    Re: Dogs going off to die alone, any theories why?

    Me too orchestrion, I was in tears a few times thinking about Holly but the way I look at it is atleast she went peacefully and wasnt out shivering on the streets in the rain. She was with a loving family her whole life and had a nice garden to play and snuffle around in that she liked enough to spend her last moments there in the end. Thats a pretty good life

    Im sorry to hear about your dog orchestrion what was his name? Its sad the way neurological conditions can take people and animals from us like that. My aunts Alsation Rommel was the same and he had to be put to sleep in the end. Im sure theyre all off in dog heaven now or whatever passes for it. I cant imagine a heaven or a summerlands or whatever it might be called without dogs.

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    Re: Dogs going off to die alone, any theories why?

    Cats do it too.


    Edit. I wasn't going to add this, but I don't want to be too silent about this situation either. Humans do it too. When I was at my mother's bedside for 9 hours, she waited till I left and 15 minutes later died. She didn't want me there.
    As hopeful as a rock sinking in a wishing well.


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    Re: Dogs going off to die alone, any theories why?

    I think that animals, especially ones that live in groups do not want to attract predators. A weak dying animal or a dead body is something a predator would be attracted to. I think it is a natural instinct to draw attention away from the pack.

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    Re: Dogs going off to die alone, any theories why?

    Sorry to hear they lost their dog. I have had two wander off. Never found the one. I think she went deep into the woods to a favorite spot. There are death habits same as life ones.

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    Re: Dogs going off to die alone, any theories why?

    It might be a survival of the group instinct. If an animal is sick and dying, it may be contagious, so it might be advantageous to go away when it dies. That way it doesn't rot near the others, its sickness is away, and the others wouldn't be tempted to eat the infected flesh.
    That's just me spit-balling, so don't consider that any sort of educated answer.
    "Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children." - Khalil Gibran

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    Bronze Member Tylluan Penry's Avatar
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    Re: Dogs going off to die alone, any theories why?

    Something else I've noticed (and our vet confirmed this) is that some animals will 'will' themselves to die. (You find a reference to this in Moby Dick, too, with the harpoonier Queequeg). I've noticed it a lot with rabbits, and apparently sheep do the same thing.

    Why animals (including dogs) go off somewhere quiet to die, I don't know. But they do - at least, if we don't euthanise them first. And maybe it's just a need to be somewhere dark, quiet and peaceful, like sleep. And then they slip away, to a sleep forgetting.
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    Phantom Turnips never die.... they just get stewed occasionally....

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    Sr. Member orchestrion's Avatar
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    Re: Dogs going off to die alone, any theories why?

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesByrne View Post
    Me too orchestrion, I was in tears a few times thinking about Holly but the way I look at it is atleast she went peacefully and wasnt out shivering on the streets in the rain. She was with a loving family her whole life and had a nice garden to play and snuffle around in that she liked enough to spend her last moments there in the end. Thats a pretty good life

    Im sorry to hear about your dog orchestrion what was his name? Its sad the way neurological conditions can take people and animals from us like that. My aunts Alsation Rommel was the same and he had to be put to sleep in the end. Im sure theyre all off in dog heaven now or whatever passes for it. I cant imagine a heaven or a summerlands or whatever it might be called without dogs.
    Yes there's something really bittersweet about Holly's story. It's kind of a peaceful way to go isn't it?
    My dog's name was Jaeger. He had to be put to sleep too, which was sad but better than just letting him suffer. It was last year. My little brother was hit pretty hard by it.
    And yes i'm sure there off frolicking somewhere haha.

    selume proferre

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    Bronze Member Tylluan Penry's Avatar
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    Re: Dogs going off to die alone, any theories why?

    Not sure whether anyone else has had this experience after losing a pet (and before anyone asks, I can't prove it and I don't mind if you think I'm bonkers for this) but whenever we have lost one, they send us a 'sign' a day or so afterwards. Sometimes it's really strange, like finding a dog ornament (which wasn't ours) sitting in one of the garden borders, far away from where anyone could have thrown it. And sometimes we've had anomalies show up on photos (not the ones I put up on facebook recently, but others that were interacting with our other dogs.)
    I think they just want us to know they're okay.
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    Phantom Turnips never die.... they just get stewed occasionally....

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