Benny took a few days off from working as a therapy dog since his brother Kirby passed away. It is a good idea to let your other pets mourn the loss of a family member (human or animal) and get their routine back to normal.
Benny was very sad and displaying some stress signals so I wanted him to adjust to being a solo dog in the home. Once he decided to sleep in Kirby’s bed and rest where Kirby rested, he started feeling better. He was comforted by Kirby’s smell and started to realize this was different from other times Kirby was away.
Kirby had been out of the home many times over the years having various surgeries and Benny never reacted this way. But he knows this time it is different. It is permanent.
Benny is picking up on my demeanor and understands something is changed in our household.
Benny needed to get back to his routine as soon as possible so we went back to work yesterday. The time we spent with one of our special clients at the Children’s Therapy Center was the best hour of the week, for both Benny and myself.
It was a remarkable hour and Benny brought about a breakthrough.
Then today we spent an hour with a new client at the Center and I could not have been prouder of Benny. It was originally planned that Kirby would do this first session with this new child, but Benny did a beautiful job in his place.
Last night I spent about an hour working on a new behavior with Benny and he did so well today. He loves learning new things and is so fast at perfecting the skills.
Today he aced it and the session went so much farther than we had anticipated.
So while dogs certainly mourn the loss of their companions, keeping their routine consistent, not removing the belonging of the departed pet, working on new skills or just increasing their exercise will work wonders on keeping stability in the home.
Benny taught me today how well he can adapt to this new phase of our lives. When Benny joined our family three years ago, I had set up the hierarchy of our home so that he respected Kirby as top dog. Kirby was the elder, more fragile dog and was always first at everything: being fed, going out for walks, cuddling. Benny fit right in as a shy dog and loved his brother and understood that he had to be gentle with him and “wait his turn.”
Now with Kirby gone, Benny is stepping up to the plate and becoming more of a solo dog. It will take time, but the shy dog now knows more than ever that he can take care of himself and have the top dog position.
Benny will now work five days a week and it will be the best recipe for him to be strong and brave and the best Love Dog he can possibly be.