Dog Stories for Dog Owners

Do Dogs Run Away When They Are About to Die?

chelsey before dying

Do dogs run away when they are about to die? Yes, I believe they do, and that’s only because that’s exactly what my 17 year old Chesapeake Bay Retriever did before we had to put her to sleep.

In the latter part of Chelsey’s 16th year of life, she lived in a kennel in the garage with a heater on her or when it warmed up she lived on the back porch. She suffered from incontinence and it just was too much to clean up in our house and well, we didn’t want to ruin our house.

Every morning, I would hose off the back porch or kennel because she urinated or defecated over night. Usually, I would let her just slowly walk around the backyard (unfenced) while I hosed everything off. She wasn’t going anywhere fast, so I didn’t think it was a threat at all and it wasn’t until one day.

The Day Chelsey Tried to Run Away

One day, after I finished cleaning off the back porch, I looked in the backyard and I couldn’t find Chelsey. I called for her and couldn’t hear her at all. I looked around the house – nothing.

She wasn’t in the neighbors’ yards or down the street.

There was NO WAY she would have been able to walk far.

She could hardly walk and it didn’t take me that long to clean the back porch so she shouldn’t have gotten far.

I walked around the blocked, looked in people’s yards, called her name and nothing.

I went inside to get my husband who joined me in the hunt. As we looked and couldn’t find her, I started to cry.

There were people who believed we should put her to sleep and even called the Animal Police on us, so I thought may be someone took her. I remember saying, “They took her and they are going to put her to sleep and we didn’t even get to say goodbye.”

Side Note: Don’t worry; Animal Control came and could see we were taking good care of Chelsey keeping her warm and she wasn’t in any harm. She was simply dying of old age – at the age of 17 years at this point.

Giving Up and Returning Home

chelsey's last walk

At this point in the search for Chelsey, it started to rain. I didn’t want to give up but we looked all over the neighborhood.

We called Animal Control who said they would call us if they received any calls.

All we could do was go home with heavy hearts.

Finding Chelsey Away from Home

After a few minutes of pacing at home, I called Animal Control again. As the lady was telling me that they didn’t receive any calls about her, she told me to hold on.

A moment latter she clicked back over and said that someone may have found her. She gave us the address.

Chelsey was all the way on the other side of the neighborhood, crossed a busy street and ended up meeting some people in the apartment complex we lived in while the house we live in was being built.

Those people were giving her turkey to keep her there until we showed up and when we did they said, “She’s in rough shape.”

Since my husband drove us to where she ended up (much farther than I ever thought), he drove home while I walked back with slow walking but relieved Chelsey.

Failed Attempts at Running Away to Die

Chelsey was never an escape artist. However, after she returned home from her first runaway. We found her lying in the backyard two times when coming home. She had managed to open the back porch door, but was too weak to make it past the backyard. She would just be lying in the grass enjoying the warm Spring sun on her body.

We knew this was the time to help her pass…

We believe Chelsey didn’t want to die with us. Physically, she was not able to walk far, but she did that one morning and then shortly after she tried to leave again two times. She wanted to run away to die.

What Some Animal Experts Believe

Many animal experts believe that dogs do not run away when they are about to die, just take this quote:

Dogs and cats rarely ‘die peacefully in their sleep,’ and they do not wander off in order to spare our feelings. That’s a fairy tale invented to make us feel better at their expense. At times they are suffering and they need help in dying, and you are the one who must recognize when that is the case. They do not deserve to meet a frightened, bewildering end out there lost and alone. — Wendy Smith Wilson, DVM

While Dr. Wilson doesn’t believe dogs wander off when they want to die, I have to say that Chelsey definitely was trying to leave during her final days on Earth.

Do Dogs Run Away When They Are About to Die? Yes!

Dogs definitely run away when they are about to die. While many don’t have the chance to or can’t, they likely want to do it. If your dog has been trying to run away or has run away and you’re wondering if it’s because he/she wants to die away from you and your family, that’s likely the case.

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