A touching video shows the moment that an apparently grief-stricken mother dog buries her dead puppy. The mother dog picks up her dead puppy and finds an appropriate spot, where she digs with her paws and buries the dead puppy.
The 1 minute, 26 second footage, titled “Pretty sad but interesting behavior,” was reportedly captured by the owner of the dog and uploaded to LiveLeak on December 1.
It shows an apparently grief-stricken canine mother — said to be a Chihuahua cross – as she picks up the carcass of her puppy in her mouth. She then goes in search of an appropriate place to bury the body.
The person filming the video follows the little white and light brown-colored dog as she trots across the yard to a patch of soil surrounded by a white picket fence.
She hops over the fence and goes to a corner, where she uses her front paws to dig a shallow hole.
After she digs the hole, she drops her dead puppy into it. She ensures that the body is entirely in the hole before she uses her muzzle to push earth back into the hole. After she has filled the hole, she takes care to ensure that the body is covered up completely.
The brief video ends with the little dog still standing close to her puppy’s grave.
Viewers have expressed different opinions about the behavior of the dog. Some viewers were convinced that the dog was actually grieving her loss, and expressed sadness.
“Sad to see, RIP little pup. Video hit me right in the feels.”
“Oh man, that’s heartbreaking.”
“Poor doggy Mum. Sad to have to lose your child. So sad. Dogs really are man’s best friend.”
“Poor baby. So sad that mama lost her baby. I hope mama doesn’t grieve too much and hopefully she had more than one puppy so she still has babies to take care of, it helps the grieving process.”
But some viewers scoffed at the idea that a mother dog is able to mourn the loss of her offspring and argued that it was mistaken to interpret the dog’s behavior in anthropomorphic terms.
“It is anthropomorphic to say that the dog is ‘grief stricken,’ ” a viewer writes, “that is a human emotion being put onto the dog.”
But other viewers attempted to provide utilitarian explanations, saying that dog ancestors in the wild buried their puppies to avoid attracting predators to the pack. A viewer argued that the fact that some dogs eat the placenta is evidence that they do not grieve in the way humans do and that describing the dog’s behavior as “grieving” was an anthropomorphizing error.
“So… the dog did what canines have been doing for thousands of years? They bury the dead so they don’t attract predators. Same reason they eat the after birth…”
Arguments that dogs and other animals do not grieve were quickly attacked by animal lovers who cited claims that elephants and hippopotami have been observed in the wild grieving dead relatives and friends.
“You should see elephants expressing grief — it truly is heart breaking once you realize the truth that animals do in fact experience grief.
“Elephants and Hippos grieve, and even Corvids have been seen expressing distress at seeing their own dead, and have been seen laying tributes by them.”
However, the view that dogs do not mourn like humans and that it is mistaken to interpret the behavior of the mother dog as mourning has been supported by some experts.
According to Peter Borchelt, an animal behavior specialist and former director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at the Animal Medical Center in New York, dogs bury dead puppies as part of instinctive behavior, similar to when dogs bury bones.
Dogs bury bones as way of saving food for later. The dog’s action in the video is pushed by similar instincts, although the dog may well never return to the carcass to eat it, Borchelt explained.
“I suspect it was more likely just caching dead meat, rather than a soulful response to the demise of a puppy that it wanted to bury,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to go so far as to say that the dog is saving the puppy to eat for later, because that might not be the issue — it might not have the need. But it’s still a piece of this instinctive thing. Here’s meat, here’s a bone — I’ll bury it.”
The animal behavior specialist explained that it is mistaken to interpret the behavior of animals in terms of human feelings and motivations.
Another expert explained that wild dogs developed the instinct to bury food during periods of food scarcity. A hunting dog buries whatever it is unable to eat at once to save for later. This helps it to keep scarce food from other members of its pack and other predators. The dog may then return to the food later when it is hungry.
But some experts and pet owners insist that dogs do feel grief. Dogs are known, for instance, to stop feeding or sleeping in the absence of their owners or when the owner dies.
Some dogs have been known to refuse to leave companions hit and killed by a car on highways. Dogs have been seen, apparently grief-stricken, chasing cars for hours on highways after a companion was killed by a hit-and-run driver.
[Image via Gabriela Vega/Wikimedia Commons]