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Do Dogs Commit Suicide?

 
 
dupre
 
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 07:24 am
Yesterday, my dog ran out into the street, was hit by a car, and died. I've heard that dogs will wander off to die, if they have a choice. Will they also wander off to commit suicide?

He had been a stray in a neighboring town. I brought him here two years ago. At first, he would go out onto the highway often. The cars would honk and screech and he would just walk right in front of them like the king of the road. I thought he was trying to find his way back to his orginal owners, or that he was trying to end it all, since he was so old.
I did have to hand feed him when he first showed up here. I think he had given up all hope of a good life.

Then, he disappeared for about 3 weeks. When he returned, again I had to hand feed him a few meals, and for two years, we were very close, and he no longer ran off into the street. Well, he did one day to check out the carcass of a deer.

The vet said he was about 12 years old, and I fear he had cancer. His eyesight was failing, too.

He had been whinning for two days, intermitently, around our dinnertime. For two days, he didn't do his "happy dance" and getting him up to go outside, well, he just really didn't want to. I had to carry him. I assumed he was whining for food and that the winter chill had seeped into his
little tiny bones.

To get to the highway, he would have had to go under a trellis fence or a barbed wire fence or a gate. Even if his eyesight was failing, he would have heard the cars and smelled the fumes and felt the pavement. I feel certain that he was aware of where he was.

It's just that he so carefully avoided the cows and horses and pigs around here. He had fifty safe and interesting acres to explore. I'm sure he understood those cars would kill him. What creature would be attracted to oil and gas fumes and speeding cars, anyway? It's not as if he were chasing them.

Like I said, we were very close. I work from home and, well, we were always in each other's shadow. He was a terrific dog.

So, did he wander off confused? Or did he go there purposefully to end his life?
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 07:27 am
I don't know, Dupre - I have never heard of such a thing.

I am sorry your friend was ill and distressed and that he is dead, though.
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dupre
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 07:33 am
dlowan, thank you. I just miss him so. I really don't know why I feel the need to understand his passing.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 07:36 am
I think we always want to understand things about things we love - especially when they do things that seem odd....
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sozobe
 
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Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 08:30 am
dupre, I'm so sorry. I don't know the answer, but I think it's a distinct possibility. I'm sure that old and sick animals can just "give up" and die -- James Herriot has written of this -- and I could believe that there was some intention behind your dog's action.
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dupre
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 08:47 am
sozobe, thank you. I don't know why that should be a comfort, but it is.

I feel guilty that I didn't recognize the whinning as pain. Once before, when he was sick, he was obviously ill, not responsive or active and very sad. This time, well, he just seemed to be fine one moment, but not too perky the next, like late at night for his nighttime walk.

I would have cared for him tenderly till the last day, no matter the inconvenience.

But, I could never have put him down, or "out of his misery." I just wouldn't be able to make that choice for another creature.

Of all my pets, he was my very favorite.

I miss his little "puppy" ears and head and tender body and smell and warm fur and eyes and all of it.

I knew our time would be brief, and I thought I was prepared for that.

This is so much harder than I thought it would be.
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 09:05 am
It is always harder than we expect, dupre. No matter how long we've been expecting it. I don't know if dogs can commit suicide or not, but these pets of ours can go from idiot to genius and back in sixty seconds. Sorry for you loss. I know how badly it can hurt.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 09:08 am
Sorry Dupre - it's really hard losing a pet. At least it is for some of us....
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dupre
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 09:18 am
roger, littlek, thanks for your sympathy. It does salve the pain.

He did seem so attuned to his surroundings, but maybe he did have a lapse into idiocy. That would be the only other explanation.
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the prince
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 09:26 am
Dupre, my sincere condolances on loosing yr pet. Three years ago, we lost our family dog, Tipu back in India. Teeps (as I affectionately used to call him) had been with my family since 1988 (when he was 3 weeks old) - Even now when I go back home to India, his absence continues to haunt me.

It is never easy..
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 10:27 am
Oh, dupre, I'm so sorry.

I think dogs (and probably cats as they are also rather intelligent) know about such things. Maybe not enough to think specifically of "suicide", but perhaps enough to want to escape their pain.

My best friend growing up had a Golden Retriever mix who one day just wandered away and never returned. Rusty was 12 and becoming very frail. So I think she just found a place where she felt peaceful and could lay down her head and relax one last time.

It's hard. Believe me, I know, all too well. Hugs, my friend.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 10:34 am
dupre,

A book I read ( Timbuktu by Paul Auster ) that is written from the point of view of a dog ends in the dog commiting suicide by running into the street. It sounds sad but it's happy in a way. I feel wary of recommending it to you (dunno if it will help or hurt) but you might find it interesting.
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Sugar
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 10:52 am
You know, young children will run out in front of a car and get killed as well. I don't think that a 3 year old is planning suicide.

Dogs will wander off if sick, etc.. However, I don't think it's a correct assumption to put human death wish psychology and apply it to an animal. If anything, in my experience animals are superior to humans in their strive for survival.

I am sorry for your loss. I have lost 3 dogs and they have been some of the most painful losses I have experienced.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 12:28 pm
I feel your pain. I just recently lost the finest dog a man could have.

About five years back my sister-in-law's doberman became old and sick. He had always seemed to consider himself human, easing his rear onto the couch so he could sit human style next to a person - He had never been known to go close to the railroad tracks out back But one evening when a train was coming he walked out and stood in the middle of the tracks until it brushed him away. I awlways will consider it suicide.
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dupre
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 01:22 pm
Thanks, Guatam. I just feel so disoriented. I woke up and was reaching for his warm little body. Not there. I heard a noise and thought he wanted in. Not there. I went to pet him when I came out of my office . . .

I'm sorry for your loss of Teeps. He was lucky to have you and your family.



Thanks for your kind post.
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dupre
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 01:30 pm
jespah, I wondered why he, if he thought he was going to die, why he didn't just wander off into the woods here. Maybe, since he'd been abandoned and alone before and badgered by hordes of very large dogs (the way I found him), or maybe because he didn't want to confront those longhorn cows by himself, maybe he felt this was a more succinct, peaceful end.

Although I feel certain he could have found a peaceful place to crawl into. His experience may have been otherwise, though.

Thanks for your comforting post.
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dupre
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 01:32 pm
Craven de Kere, thanks for your recommendation. Interesting that someone else had that in mind. Yes, I would like to read the book . . . and keep it in memory of my little guy.
Thank you.
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dupre
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 01:38 pm
Sugar, oh dear! Three losses? However have your survived them? I

I guess we were close in ways I can't be with even the people I care about. I mean, who in the world would want to spend their entire lives within five feet of where I am? It wouldn't be natural. Yet, he and I, we just bonded and it filled a spot I didn't even know was empty. And now he's gone. What a shock.

When I lost my boxer, our family dog, I had moved away to college. I still miss him, my pet from my youth, after these twenty-odd years.

But this is different and certainly fresher in my mind and senses.

Thanks for your post. It really is a very hard loss.
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dupre
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 01:45 pm
edgarblythe, that is very interesting, it's the kind of definitive answer I was looking for. Thank you for sharing it. I'll always remember this story when I think of yesterday's accident.

For some reason, it's just a comfort to know, to feel, that he had a choice and made a personal decision.

I would never feel that way about a person, though. But, people, we have more obligations to each other, perhaps.

Anyway, my dog could not have wandered off to die peacefully, now that I think of it. I would have sniffed him out. I know every spot of this property and he probably knew he'd get no peace from me. He'd hear my frantic calls and have to come forward.

Thanks for the vivid image, edgarblythe. I'll always remember it.
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dupre
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Jan, 2003 01:47 pm
edgarblythe, I'm sorry for your loss. I know you made your dog a very fine companion and that he was happy. Lordy, how will we get through it?
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