Animal Emotions

Do animals think and feel?

A Dog Funeral: Adult Dog Ritually Buries a Dead Puppy

Watch an adult dog ritually bury a dead puppy

I've written a number of essays about grief in nonhuman animals (animals), the latest called "How Animals Grieve: Saying Goodbye to Family and Friends." I've always argued that it's really a matter of how animals grieve, not if they grieve. This is an important distinction because the essential question is why grief has evolved - not if it has evolved. This line of thinking applies to studies of animal emotions in general

I just learned about a heart wrenching video of an adult dog discovering the corpse of a puppy and burying the youngster in a highly ritualized manner, resembling a sequence of behavior that I've observed in red foxes as a female buried a male who was most likely her mate. I was fascinated for she was deliberately orientingt her body so that when she kicked debris with her hind legs it would cover the corpse. She'd kick dirt, stop, look at the carcass, and intentionally kick again. I observed this ritual for a short while. The dog in this video goes through the same sequences of behavior for about three minutes and only leaves after the corpse is completely covered. 

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

Grieving mother or kind-hearted stranger?

The video is called "Dog in mourning buries dead puppy in astonishing video." However, it's not clear of the adult is really in mourning or for some other reason chooses to bury the pup. Indeed, the text accompanying he video notes, "It is unclear whether she was a grieving mother or kind-hearted stranger." However, I don't find this to be very important to the ritual in which the adult partakes. And, indeed, if the adult is unrelated to the pup or not deeply mourning, the observation of this funeral ritual is even more intriguing for the adult does what needs to be done before leaving the scene. 

The teaser image can be seen here.

 

 

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

more...

Subscribe to Animal Emotions

Current Issue

Dreams of Glory

Daydreaming: How the best ideas emerge from the ether.