Why losing a dog feels like losing a family member

By | August 8, 2019


Alvin: So when you get your dog, and you’re
like 11 years old… they never tell you what to expect down the road. The only thing that they tell you is…
“You have to clean after your dog.” This is Alvin and his dog Rainbow. They spent 18 years together since Alvin was
just 11, and last year… My dog was dying, and I couldn’t work. When a dog’s dying… it really does feels
like a human is dying and there’s a reason for that. Keep going! Come here! When I graduated college, my parents went
away to work abroad and so when Rainbow was 10 years old, she came to live with me in
New York. Everytime my dog got sick or every time I
had to go home at 6 o’clock to feed my dog— I was a 22 year old, I didn’t really know
how to do that. But eventually we kind of figured out how to talk
to each other. We figured out what each other needed. Even as she was losing her vision, and her
hearing, and her continence… there still was that communication. Dogs are the most popular pet in the US — more
than one in three households have one. And if you’re among them, you can probably
relate to this non-verbal communication that Alvin’s talking about. The relationship dates back tens of thousands
of years, when wolves and humans became companions. Scientists disagree about whether it was wolves
or humans that initiated the relationship, but both stood to benefit. One anthropologist, Pat Shipman, believes
a hunting alliance between wolf-dogs and people helps explain why humans survived while Neanderthals
died out. Shipman: I think our relationship with animals
has really been fundamental to our survival. And by starting this cooperative arrangement
with wolves or wolf-dogs, we began laying the foundation for relationship we have with animals, we have domesticated today. But the idea of non-working, dependent animals
is fairly new. The word “pet” was first used in the early
1500s to describe spoiled children or “any person indulged or treated as a favorite.” Then by the mid-sixteenth century, the word
took on animals as well, specifically orphan lambs that needed to be raised by hand. These days, 86% of adult pet-owners in the
US say that they consider their pets part of their family. According to historian Katherine Grier, the
reason we began caring for animals is “… connected to changing ideas about human nature, emotional
life, individual responsibility, and our society’s obligations to all kinds of dependent others..” That empathy easily extends to dogs, who we’ve
had social relationships with for thousands of years. Shipman: Because we’re both genetically
programmed for that interaction. We have helped the survival of the ones that
communicate better with us. There’s a lot of evolution underlying this. And that gives us that feeling with our cats and dogs, that they’re basically furry family members. To understand the human-dog relationship,
some psychologists have invoked a concept called Attachment Theory. Most humans have this biological need to form attachments with other humans. This idea was first developed by a British
psychiatrist, John Bowlby. And he believed that evolution programmed
humans to form attachments to boost their chances of survival. First, it’s your mom and then you find other
people… Like your friends or romantic partners. But researchers have found that we can form
these attachments with our pets as well. Especially dogs. Studies have shown that dogs’ interactions
with their owners are similar in some ways to infants’ responses to their mothers. They experience separation anxiety and look
for  their owners when under stress. [Dog crying] It’s a much more simpler relationship. I struggle with with anxiety a lot. A lot
of times, it’s anxiety about other human beings. And having a dog who I never had
to question, whether or not, my dog loved me or whether or not my dog wanted to be around
me. It was such an honest relationship. It might be a silly… A silly thing to cling to but it was important. It was definitely important for survival. I think that plays a part in why I was so
thankful for her. Researchers have found that interacting with
a dog can reduce stress hormones and blood pressure. But the unusual bond we form with dogs — a bond tens of thousands of years in the making — it means that saying goodbye is… hard. I remember one day I came home and I said
I think I have to call the vet… I called my mom and couldn’t say it. I just couldn’t tell her that
I was scheduling my dog’s death, essentially. And… Literally that night I went to a bar and
from the back of the bar I Googled ‘How do you know when it’s time for your dog’ And… All the… everything that I read…. Not really helpful, because I just knew it was time. I just wanted someone to tell me that it wasn’t
time for my dog… There are 2 shots. The first shot calms your dog down, and the
second one stops your dog’s heart. And the vet asked me “Do you want… Just tell me when…” “Whenever you’re ready.” And… It’s like… what do you say? “Okay, I’m ready?” So… it was very mechanical. “Okay, go ahead… okay, go ahead.” And a lot of the feelings I was having… They were very similar to when my grandma had passed away. I was there during her last days… and we knew she was passing. She was in hospice
care. It was a feeling of… both it is time. You’ve meant so much to me… and I’m so thankful, and I don’t know how to tell you. So the reason it feels like a human has died
is because dogs are a lot like us. Their life arc is our life arc. From city to suburb, from tragedy to bliss. And… when they pass away, that’s what we lose. Luna… Aww… [Laughing] This video was based on an article that Alvin wrote last year about losing Rainbow. I’ll link the article down below, make sure to read it.

100 thoughts on “Why losing a dog feels like losing a family member

  1. Sonic Odyssey Post author

    thank you for sharing your story with rainbow. It really helped to cope with my grieving process of my 2 year old frenchie, Luna, who recently passed. Thank you Luna for bringing so much joy into my life. You will never be forgotten ❤️ 🐶

    Reply
  2. cusoon myfriend Post author

    i lost my best friend a lovely golden retriever, 1 week ago, i just want to know if a paradise really exist i want to die and meet him again …walk with him, visit the universe forever with him
    i love you my doggy

    Reply
  3. Zboy 115 Post author

    Losing a dog is like losing a part of you

    If they die, you die inside

    Reply
  4. Tara Post author

    My pitbull died today and i cant get over it 🙁
    Shes only 2 months old..
    I made an instagram for her already anf shes gone now..

    Reply
  5. Rob Bernath Post author

    We euthanized our little Daisy, a (barely) 16-year-old Maltese, last night due to complications of kidney disease/renal failure.

    Like Alvin said in the video, when a canine or feline family member's pain becomes too great, then we know it's time to tearfully say "goodbye."

    Our hearts are broken right now and the house isn't the same without her – it never will be.

    And also similar to Alvin, my mother died of breast/ovarian cancer when I was 18. She had been bedridden for the last year of her life as the disease overcame her and she literally wasted away. She was 50 years old when she died.

    Reply
  6. Ice Blast Post author

    My dog Millie is 15 years old, she's a golden retriever and I've had her since I was 2 years old. She's getting weaker and weaker. I can't prepare myself for something so meaningful in my life to go. I'm going to miss her so so much.. I'll miss her annoying barks. I'll miss giving her wrapped Christmas presents every year. I'll miss coming home from college or work and never seeing that cute face ever again. I'll miss her puppy mode moments where she acts all silly and youthful. I'll miss opening that cabinet and never seeing a can of dog food. I'll miss stroking her when I feel sad and upset. I'll miss my dog…. My family… I love you Millie… Please give me more time

    Reply
  7. Hyarchis boi Post author

    Im putting my dog to sleep tomorrow. She has been by my side for 13 years. God damn it stings.

    Reply
  8. yuet el Post author

    I lost my dog yesterday and i can't really explain how much it really hurts 🙁

    Reply
  9. Aureliano V. Post author

    I just lost my dog and I’m devastated

    Reply
  10. Colby Bailey Post author

    I just lost my golden. She was beautiful and kind. I can't wait to see her again.

    Reply
  11. Sarah L Post author

    I lost my dog yesterday…I had her for 15 years and we were so compatible; she was a fantastic companion, and she made me made a better person. The pain is excruciating. 😓 I love you Chloe—and I miss you so much.

    Reply
  12. Igor Blyat Post author

    Im crying right now because my Bernese mountain dog is going into surgery to have a tumor removed from under her belly. I hope she lives through it man 😭😭😭🤞

    Reply
  13. Caitlyn Lasting Post author

    My dog is being put down Saturday and I just cant do it. My dogs is older than me and is 16 and he has been with me since the day I got home from the hospital after being born. He is more than just a pet and I will miss him so much

    Reply
  14. Sarah C x X Post author

    Its been 8 months since my dog had to be put to sleep and it just never feels any easier. Obviously you become more and more able to deal with the pain as time goes on but that pain never gets any easier! I still have moments where i’m perfectly happy and someone can mention a name, a place, a date or any other small thing that reminds me of my dog and I break down! RIP Ollie you’ll always be my first baby ❤️

    Reply
  15. Muteki Post author

    Just had to put down my 11 year old dog who was suffering from brain cancer. Words cannot describe how upset I am and how much I'm gonna miss her. She's in Heaven now. Long Live Jezzabelle, I love you. 🖤🖤🕊

    Reply
  16. Connor Maclean Post author

    my dogs being put to rest tomorrow, she is a jack Russel, she’s lived an amazing life reaching 17 years old, going to be so difficult for me and my family to deal with, rest easy Skye.

    Reply
  17. N a t s u k i D r a w s Post author

    Of course a dog will die, but nobody’s ready… even me, and the dog isn’t mine, it’s my cousin’s…

    Reply
  18. ziky 🔥 Post author

    My baby died 2 months ago and i still think about her everyday, it still hurts so so much.

    Reply
  19. Mj Matthews Post author

    I watched this video a over year ago, when I didn't have my dog. It was so much different to watch it again and think about my own dog, how much I love her and will hate losing her. (But its a long ways off for now.) I'm glad I watched this video again.

    Reply
  20. Bigfan Of Most things Post author

    Pretty sure this feeling is mostly universal for any domestic animal. Also here's my short answer :

    Because you and your pets care about eachother, so much you probably still mourn 10 years+ later

    Edit : I'm pretty sure you'll be sadder if your animals die suddenly, so to avoid that off chance just spend time with your animals when you have the time

    Reply
  21. BuruChii Post author

    My golden retriever Max passed away 2 days ago from sever ibd, and I’m absolutely heartbroken. I think I’ve been crying nonstop for these past few days, it truly feels like a family member has died and I’ll definitely miss when he would cuddle next to you on sofa or the greeting he gives everytime you come home. Dogs give so much unconditional love, treasure all the days you have with them.

    Reply
  22. 랑몰 Post author

    My mother owned a Goat in Somalia called Ali he was really cute and sometimes ate our clothes on the washing line and was a bit of a troublemaker tricking my mum and then stealing her food my Great Grandma (my Mother's grandmother ) never did anything to help and just watched

    Whenever my Great-Grandmother had come home he'd always come rushing from the back garden and at the door, he always greeted her very affectionately hug, kisses, etc and she repaid the favor too but whenever it was someone else he didn't even do so much as to bat an eye

    Unfortunately, his loyalty would be tested, one night, while everyone was sleeping thieves, came to our House in Somalia, two thieves arrived at our house they brought a stick expecting a guard dog instead all they got was a plucky black goat who defended his family with all he got, this however cost him his life

    By the time we got outside the bandits had run away but poor Ali was beaten severely and died early the next morning my whole family was distraught but my Great-Grandmother was especially affected

    now almost 36 years later I like to think that my Great- grandmother, grandmother and Ali are all at peace in heaven

    sorry I just I felt I needed to share this story

    Reply
  23. Fr Louie Goad Post author

    YES! SO TRUE! My 15 year old Pomeranian just had a end of life stroke.

    Reply
  24. Bacon Bear World Post author

    One of my cats passed away because he somehow got out of the house (he was an indoor cat) and our aggressive neighbors dog killed him. I have a dog now and I can’t imagine life without her. I tear up just thinking about anything bad happening to her. Whenever I’m upset no matter what she’ll be there. That’s more than I can say for people. She doesn’t care what is going on in my life but she hates to see me upset and she will bury her face in my arms if she ever sees me crying. I just love her so much and I hope my dog lives a very long life.

    Reply
  25. Savannah Johanning Post author

    How could you call an animal you see everyday, care fore everyday, give and get love from them just "part,of the household". They become family. They love you more than themselves but they are just "Part of the household. Wth?!

    Reply
  26. Ronin Post author

    My dog died yesterday and this video came up on my recommended videos…. thanks Youtube.

    Reply
  27. Sebastiano Covone Post author

    Don't mean to bum anyone out but I lost my dog this morning and I am out of town. I feel so guilty for not standing by him in his last moments. I am destroyed.

    Reply
  28. Carrington Bryant Post author

    My basset hound Mimi is turning thirteen this October, and she is really starting to show her age. I’ve had her since I was two, and the thought of her leaving is terrifying.

    Reply
  29. Huw Byrne Post author

    I just watched this because I lost my dog like 5 minutes ago

    Reply
  30. Yara Hdz. Post author

    My little friend passed away 4 days ago; he was a family member, we always loved him very much… it's been really hard getting used to the idea that I will no longer see him, I just feel at moments it's something really difficult and big.

    Reply
  31. RED FLAVOR TAE Post author

    It hurts even more than losing your family member

    Reply
  32. Sophistafunk Post author

    I had to have my dog put down today, i'm completely devastated

    Reply
  33. •Meko Neko• :3 Post author

    I lost my dog today… My dogs name was Nico, he lived for 12 years! He was such a loving and caring dog… I will miss him…

    Reply
  34. wade willson Post author

    I had a german shepherd named ginger she attacked another dog i had to give her away she was eight years old in human years we were emotionally attached

    Reply
  35. S O P H I E B L E A C H Post author

    My dog is dying right now.. im scared to what to expect..

    Reply
  36. peaches minaj Post author

    my dog died of a heatstroke today. we were just planning on breeding her

    Reply
  37. J_ J Post author

    I’m here because I lost my dog of 12 years, 2 days ago. Even though I been through this before it doesn’t hurt less 💔

    Reply
  38. Deep Inside Post author

    Mommy,daddy,Johnny,and Branden love you so much Lou rest in peace🐶

    Reply
  39. Jay Fuller Post author

    It's not just dogs. I had a very special bond with my cat who died last Wednesday.

    Reply
  40. Maritza J.W Post author

    I just had to say good bye to my Toby and the pain is so unbearable. I held him in my arms while the vet helped him go. It was the least I could do after 15 years of unconditional love. At moments I think that maybe I shouldn’t get myself into this again by getting another dog, but how can I deny myself of such experience? Such love, such companionship….

    Reply
  41. ツRisqs Post author

    Man,I just lost my dog today.this video helped me to overcome it. Thanks a lot

    Reply
  42. Gabs :3 Post author

    "Do want to know what the hardest thing about owning the dog is?"

    The goodbye.

    Reply
  43. Sara Hunter Post author

    There was no warning when my dog had a seizure last night. My parents took her to the vet, thinking she was gonna be okay. But she had a tumor covering half her lungs. My parents talked about it and finally decided to put her down. My dad drove home without her. At 2 am. I will never forget her. Not in a million years

    Reply
  44. BigWave Post author

    My dog died last night. Hurts so much she is gone. My friend

    Reply
  45. andrew parker Post author

    I lostt my dog last night. I was up until 3:00 AM. I have spinal problems and I will need back surgry and my ear is acting up which is causing a fear of needing ear surgery. My last few surgries my dog would lay next to me when my memere died I had my dog with me. The back surgey will be after I get my switch

    Reply
  46. KOOKIE WOOKIE! Post author

    My parrot passed away a few months ago.. 🙁

    Reply
  47. XxSharaiCocoxX Forever Post author

    I've losen a puppy at 7 months , But I couldn't believe that he died . Even we been together for 6 months . I didn't believe it . I was tearing up for aleast 3 days . Why is he gone I asked myself ?

    Reply
  48. Troy Link Post author

    My ESA American Bully my absolute best friend I put her down today because she was super sick

    Reply
  49. Misty’s School Of Bad Acting Post author

    sees title
    Because it is one

    Also I didn’t expect to cry
    I did

    Reply
  50. Jack Drozinski Post author

    My Dog died two years ago,and I think he’s right next to me.

    Reply
  51. AirWick 007 Post author

    When you turn 11 and your parents don't want a dog.
    You weren't supposed to do that

    Reply
  52. Kris Dillon Post author

    My dog died a few days ago. She was only 2. Her name was Remi. I miss her so much.

    Reply
  53. Troom Boom Post author

    It really does I had my dog seen I was 1 year old and she died a couple month ago I really miss her😭😭😭😭😭😭

    Reply
  54. Omar Polaris Post author

    As a former bank employee, let me spoil this:

    You can wave a $30 late fee just because your dog died

    Reply
  55. Despicable 007 Post author

    Had to Put down my dog yesterday. He was barely 3 and a half years old, had epilepsy and suffered continuous seizures for almost two hours yesterday and then we had to decide.
    Whole Family is devastated, the unusual calm in the house 😔

    Reply
  56. Aayush Singh Post author

    Heck I never had a dog and I feel like crying

    Reply
  57. doc francis Post author

    I lost my dog this night ( he was poisoned with antifreeze) , i cried like a baby this morning when i found out , i rember playing with him yesterday and then this morning he was gone. This morning my father told me that he lived a good life and that he will always watch over me , if there is one thing i want to say is: rember you will have other dogs in your life but to your dog you will be his only master.

    Reply
  58. Nick Fleming Post author

    I would do anything for my dog that I'd do for a human

    Reply
  59. Ana Animates Post author

    What about cats tho? My cat just died yesterday and I’m really depressed

    Reply
  60. Jeff Lara Post author

    Lost my dog Mila to GME. She fought with all that she could for 8 months after diagnoses. Seeing her no be able to walk and enjoy the outdoors killed me inside. Happened suddenly but she was a fighter. Not a day goes by when i don't think about her. R.I.P Mila gone way too soon at 4yrs young.

    Reply
  61. Zorkful Post author

    My Rex died two hours ago of a heart attack from a parvovirus.
    I’m 13 and he was six weeks old.

    Reply
  62. Kamila's collections Post author

    My aunts dog maya passed away today. She tore her alc (which is a muscle) and she had to be put down. She was really special to me because my first word was maya. I would call all dogs maya lol. R.i.p maya. She lived a long happy life.

    Reply
  63. Goos Post author

    It’s almost a year since I lost my dog and I grew up with her we were both babies together and now she isn’t here and it’s been a year a year without my best friend and it’s making me really sad

    Reply
  64. Kiera Young Post author

    My dog who was only three, had to be put down today. It’s so devastating and I feel like things will never get better.

    Reply
  65. Dorka Marte Post author

    My dog got killed by a pit bull last night I’m still in shock. I’m so heartbroken 😞

    Reply
  66. Kermit The frog Post author

    Having a pet is so amazing though. To be honest animals are slightly better than humans. They’re always happy to see you, they’re always by your side, they get us through a lot.

    Reply
  67. Michelle M Post author

    My dog literally is my family he’s been my best friend for 10 years and when he dies I feel like a part of me will go with him

    Reply
  68. SilentKnight43 Post author

    If you don't already know the answer to the vid title – I suggest getting a chia pet.

    Reply
  69. London-Renee Edwards Post author

    My dog was put down yesterday I can’t thank you enough for this video 😇

    Reply
  70. Stephen Berry Post author

    This video helped me out, quite a bit. My little 10 year old pitbull peanut passed yesterday, it's really tough but my wife and I are getting through it. I really dont want another dog after this…..its too much

    Reply
  71. RS Effects Post author

    My 14 year old American bull dog just died. I can’t breathe right and I feel nauseous

    Reply
  72. Run Platypus Post author

    I told my wife over and over not to get a dog. That it's a big responsibility etc. Now i'm really attached to this dog, now i keep telling her if this dog dies and i get depressed all the blame will be on her. Lol.

    Reply
  73. AC Craft Team Post author

    My dog passed away this morning and it’s really hard

    Reply
  74. Dullish Post author

    My dog was put down 10 hours ago
    May he rest in piece

    Reply
  75. Kyra Mae Post author

    I lost my dog last night. He was 16, almost 17. Had him for over 14 years. I miss him very much. Thank you for this

    Reply
  76. equinox Post author

    lost my boxer suddenly due to a heart attack today. She was only 6 years old with no health issues. She was so incredible. I dont know what im going to do without her ive been crying for what feels like 24 hours straight. I would give anything to just hold her once more and see her happy face.

    Reply
  77. Pixie the Bernese mountain Dog Post author

    It hurts like losing a family member because to some people like me they are family members

    Reply
  78. Covers By Cara Post author

    My dog died Monday, but she’s so much better off not suffering anymore

    Reply
  79. Amorette Angel Post author

    My beautiful dog died yesterday morning in an accident. My other dog accident got stuck on her chain and when she was trying to pull away she accidentally chocked my dog to death. It hurts so much. Words can’t describe how devastated I am. I look around the house and still see her there. She used to follow me around and she always slept by my side. 💔😖😭 If you lost your dog I’m so sorry. I understand your pain.❤️❤️

    Reply
  80. IronCowgirl* Bree Post author

    It's been only 5 days since I lost my best friend & soulmate LillyMarie of the past 9 years!! I'm completely devastated & heartbroken!! It was unexpected and I feel cheated, guilty, sad, mad, confused, & frustrated!!! I've lost Mom of a sudden death & my grandmother of hospice among other family members, but this 1 is the most painful heartbreak of all!! 😭😭💔🐾🐾🌈Bless u all who knows what this heart wrenching grief feels like!! I feel like I've lost a part of me!! She was the most incredible amazing soul I'd ever known in my 49 yrs of life!!! I'm having a very hard time in dealing with her death!! Thank u for sharing this!! 🐾🐾💔🕊🌈🌹

    Reply
  81. Yeet Skeet Post author

    My dog died today and this helped a little bit, so thank you

    Reply
  82. Hater Bae Post author

    I’ve still have been missing my angel dog (bear) since last month…

    Reply
  83. Kevinb1821 Post author

    I have a dachshund that I’ve had since he was 8 weeks old. He sleeps by my side every night and when I’m away he apparently walks around the house all night whimpering. He’s 5 and healthy now but I have never been this close to a dog and I can’t imagine him not sleeping next to me. I don’t know what I’m gonna do when he does eventually have to go into the heavens

    Reply

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