If you are familiar with my blogs so far, you definitely know that Maverick is my Heart Dog. However, you may not realize how much of a place my other sheltie, Marti (Maverick’s sister), has in my heart as well. It’s due time to give Marti the spotlight and chat about how the loss of Maverick has affected her, which to be honest, is not something I am entirely sure about.
Maverick & Marti (M&M) were a duo (*If you’re wondering if their names were planned that way, they were actually entirely a coincidence! Their breeder named each of them and why mess with perfection? :)). Maverick came home with me in 2003 when he was 5 months old and Marti (short for “Martini”, which if you know my affection for martinis, this was a surefire hint her furry fate was sealed) when she was 6 months old in 2005.
In all honesty, I can’t say the bond they shared was crystal clear. They were not the type to cuddle together or even really seem to notice the presence of the other. However, they sure did love to play outside together. Their play fighting would ensue whenever we were outside – whether it be on the grass, the pavement, playground or a sandbox, they would have the time of their lives (and I would too, watching them). Back inside, it was back to being aloof other than the occasional battle for a crumb or my attention.
During Maverick’s health issues, he started acting less and less like himself. Towards the end, he would spend every waking moment pacing and spinning in circles, uncontrollably. During this time, Marti would find a nook to hide in or sometimes start acting frantic herself from what I assume was confusion and feeling scared. Given this rocky time and the degree of hands-on care Maverick needed, I sadly admit Marti did not get the TLC she deserved.
Since Maverick has passed, she has been getting loads of attention and I’m beginning to feel our bond is stronger than ever. She now follows me around more than ever before, even into the bathroom, which previously has been Maverick’s territory. It’s hard to say if Marti is more attached to me now because Maverick is gone and she is filling the void from missing him, or simply because she was letting him take the center stage, and now she’s claiming her spot as top dog.
It’s also hard to know how much Marti notices the loss of Maverick. Just as we grieve in our own way, I assume dogs do as well. I have heard from others that when one of their two bonded dogs passes, the one left behind shows very overt signs of the loss such as noticeably looking for them around the house, whimpering and sulking, to even outright personality changes such as acting sullen and depressed.
Marti expressed none of these traits. Does this mean she doesn’t notice the loss and isn't affected by it? I’m not sure but given a few subtle signs, I do think she is aware of his absence.
For instance, the first day after he passed, she went out for her usual morning bathroom break. When called, she wouldn’t come. This is very un-Marti-like. It turns out she went out to the tree where Maverick was euthanized, plopped herself down and would not come when called.
Since then, the only other hint that indicates she feels a void, has been her interactions with Skor. Skor is my stuffed sheltie. My sister gave him to me as a gift a few years back and I consider him my travel and sleep sheltie. Whenever I travel and can’t bring Maverick & Marti, Skor is my "canine" companion. Also, he tucks up well beside me in bed which I love because neither Maverick nor Marti are big fans of nighttime cuddling (I like to think it’s because they get too hot from all their fur).
When Maverick passed, I took the bandanna he wore from his last grooming appointment and tied it around Skor's neck. Since them, Marti has shown invested interest sniffing Skor, particularly his new fashion accessory. Given dogs strong olfactory sense, I attribute this to more than just a sniff coincidence.
I think the bottom line is that when our Heart Dog passes away, it affects their surviving fur friend(s) just like it does us. While Marti has been experiencing grief in her own way seemingly subtle way, I think allowing her to spend time with Maverick after his euthanasia and also at his visitation, has better helped her accept he is no longer with us in the same way as before.
Has your Heart Dog passed and left an impact on other canine pack members? If so, please feel free to share your experience.
How can this blog help you?
This website and blog originated from the experience of learning to let go of my beloved Heart Dog, Maverick. By sharing my story and offering the opportunity for you to share yours, I hope we can all truly celebrate their lives. pay tribute, and heal from the loss of our one true canine companion. I hope this website will also raise awareness of the meaning of a Heart Dog because it is a concept that is not largely understood.