USNews.com - Jon Tumilson's dog, Hawkeye, was an important part of his life. And, as it turns out, Tumilson was an important part of Hawkeye's life.
After the Navy SEAL was killed in Afghanistan last summer, more than a thousand friends and family attended the funeral in Rockford, Iowa, including his "son" Hawkeye, a black Labrador retriever who, with a heavy sigh, lay down in front of Tumilson's flag-draped casket. There, the loyal dog stayed for the entire service.
Hawkeye's reaction to his owner's death generated a lot of buzz online and in the media. But it's not unusual, according to pet experts, for some dogs to mourn the loss of a favorite person or animal housemate.
Grief is one of the basic emotions dogs experience, just like people, said Dr. Sophia Yin, a San Francisco-based veterinarian and applied animal behaviorist. Dogs also feel fear, happiness, sadness, anger, as well as possessiveness.
Dogs who mourn may show similar signs to when they're separated for long periods of time from the individual they're bonded to, she said. Of those signs, depression is the most common, in which dogs usually sleep more than normal, move slower, eat less and don't play as much.
The beginning of such a strong interspecies bond between humans and dogs dates back some 15,000 years, when early man and the ancestor of today's dog roamed the Earth together.
Today, after thousands of years of friendship, there's a great deal of attunement between humans and dogs, not only in terms of comprehension of each other's gestures and body language but also emotionally, said Barbara King, a professor of anthropology at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.
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Written by MaryAnn Mott/HealthDay