Greyfriars Bobby

Our hounds were Patti’s babies. They traveled all over town with her, Tim riding in the baskey of her scooter, Joe on the platform by her feet. She would hug them close, dress them in raincoats and a little duck suit, bring them to bed, and spoil them with treats. They licked her, hugged her back and guarded her, barking whenever a stranger got too close.

People asked me if they noticed her absence.

I didnt know how to tell. It’s not like they were hanging around the door waiting for her to come home,  or howling with grief. They seemed more or less the same. Except for the total breakdown in housebreaking. Horrible, squirty diarrhea. Puddles of pee all over. They were eating the same food as ever, getting lots of walks, but it was a nightmare.

I spent a few hundred dollars at the vet and put them on antibiotics. It went away, sort of but not entirely.  A dog walker suggested I try organic food. At the hippy pet store, they prescribed pumpkin and squash, cans of duck and venison. I tried it all and after four weeks or so, things calmed down. When I ran out of cans of expensive handmade food, I switched them back to dry food and they have been fine ever since. Except for when we went away overnight to my mum’s house and they stayed with strangers. Again, diahrrea.

Duh, they were stressed out and this is how it manifested. No support groups or condolence cards. They just want normalcy.

Grief is a messy business. This kind can be taken care of with a mop, hot water and Mr. Clean.

12 Comments

  1. John Ediger

    Gosh, I always think about if my beautiful little dog chewey passed away how horrible it would be. I never thought of it the over way around. Your story touched me very much for I know of a dogs love.

    Your Friend
    John Ediger

  2. AutumnLeaves

    Those poor babies…They probably do not understand and just want their mommy to come home. I am so glad you and Jack are there for them. I find myself wishing I had the type of love and connection you had with your Patti. One minute, one step, one hour at a time…Always save these journals, Dan.

  3. helenlp

    I often think that dogs are so clever and yet so stupid at the same time, but actually they are probably just much more sensitive than I give them credit for. Certainly my own little dog is always happiest when the whole family is home with him. Since I am home with him more than anyone else I notice the changes in his behaviour when my daughter, and then my husband, get home. He’s a rescue dog (picked up by the police as a stray) and he definitely responds to the security of having his human pack all around him. But he adjusts to absences too, perhaps because once he gets used to them he simply accepts them – and maybe there’s a lesson in that for us humans…
    Thanks so much for sharing with us Danny.

  4. Stephanie

    This made my eyes well up. And I’m a pragmatist when it comes to pets, usually… for some reason this pricked my heart and the mama in me kicked in. I am glad they seem to be finally adjusting. I still remember when you were sketching the when they were new pups.

  5. Loretta

    Danny, I guess the dogs are showing us just how much grief affects the body. We tend to think of it purely as a heart-sickness, but it really a totally engulfing of the nervous system – mind, body, spirit. In a way, the dogs are luckier. They can just let blow, so to speak, while we humans have to find a more socially acceptable way to deal with long term grief when we might just want to pull down our pants and shit all over the place.

    The thing I’ve found, which you are in the midst of, is that it does get worse as it gets better. It changes and evolves from rawness to a deeper, more existential profound grief. Keep on writing and drawing and thank you for sharing it.

  6. Kim

    I have a great dane who often responds to anything resembling emotional stress with diarrhea. The best remedy we’ve found far is to feed her rice. Brings her back to near normal within a day or two.

  7. Anna Morales Puigcerver

    Hi Danny,

    Yesterday a close friend of mine told me about your site. I didn’t know you but she said she had been keeping track of your site since the very beginning. She told me about your wonderful drawings and how you encourage people to do what we most love. And she also told me about your wife’s accident, but apparently, she hadn’t read your recent posts. Yesterday morning I was sitting on the sofa, next to my husband and as I was reading your last posts I couldn’t hold back the tears. I know it may sound weird not knowing you but I was deeply moved by your love to your wife and son.
    I have two sons, the little one turning 15 the first week of July and he also loves drawing. He has attended a course in an Art School during summer holidays for the last two years and is going to start a new one this year. I thought your ‘An Illustrated Life’ would make an excellent present for him despite not mastering the language. Fortunately excellent drawings do not need to be translated.
    As for me, I’ve also ordered ‘Everyday Matters’ and ‘The Creative License’. They look very inspirational.

    You have a wonderful teenager at home and your pets need to be looked after. Great sources of inspiration for your future drawings. I can picture your dogs next to a mop, hot water and Mr. Clean :-)

    I wish you all the best.

  8. sue

    Animals definitely react to changes like this, and I would bet they pick up on the mood of those around them, and sense emotions as well. I remember when my son was 16 mos old and he had to be hospitalized–we all left and my husband at the time went back to check on them and feed them, etc, with a neighbor helping out. We were gone for 2 weeks, and when we were back “for good,” we came in and discovered that the dog and cat had taken every pillow in the place and ripped it to shreds–feathers and stuffing were everywhere, like they’d had some mad ritual while we were gone. I was furious at first, and then realized it was their way of expressing their fear and stress. Poor things!

  9. Pam Perry

    When my mom died almost three years ago, the cat that my parents had taken in several years before would get on their bed and walk around and around on my mother’s side of the bed, as if looking for her. Animals know and feel.

    I continue to think about you and Jack, wishing peace and courage for both of you. Your writing has been achingly beautiful. I don’t think I’ve even begun to address my grief at my mother’s passing (too focused on taking care of my dad) and I find your blog entries both familiar and comforting.

    Pam

  10. Angela Atkins

    I recently started rereading ‘Creative License’ to help me start drawing again, and decided to check your website tonight to see if you had new books, sketches posted, etc. I am so, so sorry to see that your wife recently passed away. I can tell from the books of yours I have read how much a part of your life she was. I’m thankful you have the dogs and your son to help you as you grieve–together. You and your son are in my prayer tonight.

  11. Melly

    Last summer one of our two cats passed away. Arrow, our remaining cat had grief. He got jumpy, he looked uncomfortable, began to yowl, I think he was looking for Monk. Then he calmed down, began to sleep deeply, relaxed and seems to have settled down a bit. It took a few months to see him relax. Anyway. Keep on keeping on. Much love and care to you.

  12. Jamie Stewart

    one time i got diarrhea attack while riding on a long bus trip, it really sucks.-;

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