Over the weekend, a touching photo of a dog anxiously waiting for its deceased owner to return gained popularity online. However, there is a happy ending to this story. Linda Barish, who sits on the executive committee of a rescue organization based in New Jersey, shared that Moose went through a long period of sadness after his owner passed away.
On June 17, a heartwarming photo was shared on the Facebook page of Eleventh Hour Rescue, a non-profit organization for pets. The picture showed Moose, a loyal dog, waiting beside a hospital bed. According to Barish, the caregiver of Moose’s owner, the dog was waiting by the door for his owner to come back. Unfortunately, Moose’s owner did not return and the caregiver had to console him before returning him to the rescue. This was not the first time Moose had been given to Eleventh Hour Rescue. He was found tied to a railroad crossing sign in rural Georgia and was later brought to a shelter in August 2017.
The dog was facing euthanasia until the no-kill Eleventh Hour Rescue took him in and placed him in foster care. After a few months, he was adopted in April 2018, but unfortunately, his owner passed away after a severe illness, leaving the Labrador mix distressed and in need of a new caregiver. This type of response from pets who have lost their owners is not uncommon, according to author Barbara J. King, who wrote about how animals grieve. While it is difficult to determine how a pet might react to a death, common behaviors such as social withdrawal and visible distress can be observed. King believes that Moose’s actions show a desire for reunion with his owner, rather than grief over death, as it is unclear whether Moose was present at the time of death or involved with the body afterward. Therefore, it is difficult to determine if Moose has an understanding of the finality of the situation or if he is still hoping for his owner’s return.
Moose has been adopted twice from the Eleventh Hour Rescue, and on both occasions, he found a new home within days. The rescue team posted Moose’s story on Facebook, as they do with all their animals, and it quickly went viral. They received numerous applications for his adoption from all over the country, including Australia. While Moose’s new family was one of the first to apply, the shelter did not adopt on a first-come, first-served basis. They focused on finding the best match for their dogs. Moose’s new family is a four-person household that recently lost their 14-year-old dog and are grieving. The shelter believes that Moose will be able to heal with them. King, an expert in pet loss, says that it is possible for people and pets to heal together after they experience different types of losses. However, King’s experience is mainly with cats rather than dogs.
At present, Moose is providing comfort to a family member who has recently lost their beloved pet and is reportedly doing well. To support grieving or sad animals, owners should spend ample time with them and offer extra attention, love, and patience. In severe cases, it may be necessary to consult a vet to ensure that the pets receive appropriate treatment. Although there is no official update on Moose yet, as the rescue organization checks in with new families a week after adoption, according to Barish, she has heard from a volunteer’s friend that Moose is thriving in his new home.