Home dogs Wiki and Sprite: When a Dog Grieves

Wiki and Sprite: When a Dog Grieves

by Marianne Navada
bonded dogs

Three months ago, our dog Wiki passed away. Wiki and our younger dog, Sprite were bonded. They have been together for 12 years. I remember when Sprite first came to our house as a foster puppy. The rescue said that she didn’t get along with other dogs and is shy. But the moment she saw Wiki, her tail started wagging. She ran up to him and licked him. She played with his toys, and laid down on his bed. The lady from the rescue was shocked and I think so was Wiki. He had the look of someone in awe. You know that scene from the movies, when the boy has his hand on his cheek, and can’t believe the girl of his dreams just kissed him.

They never barked at each other or fought. Sprite followed him around, tail wagging, with a big smile. Wiki, just let her be. He was her hero and Wiki took care of her. He groomed her, let her drink water first after playing, and gave up his bed when she wanted it. Needless to say, we had to adopt her. 

Losing Wiki

Wiki’s passing changed all of us, but perhaps what makes it even more heartbreaking is watching Sprite. She refused to eat even her most favorite foods. She stopped playing and slept more than usual.

Wiki had a heart problem and we knew he didn’t have long at 16 years old. But still, his passing came suddenly. He was having a non-anesthetic dental procedure. Something he gets done regularly, since he can’t go through dental surgery anymore. I was told that right after his cleaning ended, he closed his eyes and went limp. They tried to revive him but couldn’t. It all happened with Sprite there in the room with him. I remember when the receptionist told me to go to one of the rooms: “Wiki is not doing so well.” They brought Sprite to me. I’ve never seen her look so quiet and calm at the office. For once, she wasn’t tugging at me and walking to the front door. We sat there together on the floor, waiting, and hoping. 

A month after Wiki died, Sprite developed an eye and mouth infection. I understand that she is not the same emotionally, but I wasn’t prepared for the depression and physical toll Wiki’s loss was taking on her. I wasn’t sure how long she would last. But a few weeks ago, something changed. I credit a series of fortunate events. 

New Friends, New Scene, and New Toys

My neighbor asked if her dog can stay over—a tiny and carefree chorkie. Sprite always barked at her through our fence. Wiki was the only dog she wanted around. Sprite avoided the chorkie the first night she stayed. But the next morning, when she saw her play, Sprite started warming up. For the first time in 3 months, Sprite started playing again. 

It just so happened that we had a road trip planned the day after dog sitting. We planned the trip to remember and celebrate Wiki’s life. He always loved exploring new places. Those 4 days on the road and the change in environment energized Sprite. She started eating normally again. 

When we got back, I got her toys similar to what my neighbor’s dog had.. I never believe in buying stuff to lift up spirits, but after careful consideration, this was worth a shot. Sprite is 16 lbs. and she used to prefer toys for medium-sized dogs. But she enjoyed the smaller squeaky toys our neighbor’s dog had. So I got them. She invites me to play with her three times a day, right after waking up, before lunch, and when my husband gets home, all of us play.

Sprite 2.0

For the last two weeks Sprite smiles regularly again. Like before, she pokes her head next to the kitchen island with those curious eyes staring at me, hoping for a treat while I’m cooking. She sits next to me and falls asleep when I play guitar. She’s less scared of random noises and door bells. She’s not the same dog—I don’t expect her to be—but at least she has the pep in her step again. I can tell she’s going to be fine.

I still have Wiki’s beds and keep one in my office with his Hawaiian shirt. The one he’s wearing in the cover photo. And sometimes, when Sprite is in the room with me, I pick up the shirt and say “Remember Wiki?” I let her sniff his shirt. Her tail starts wagging, goes on his bed and uses his shirt as a pillow. 

Commit to living.