A grieving chihuahua spending his first day alone after his best friend was euthanized is making people online teary-eyed.
Sharing her sorrow on Facebook’s Dogspotting Society group earlier this week, user Patricia Russell shared a photo of her 1-year-old chihuahua Leonidas (nicknamed Piddle) sitting in her washing machine.
Nervously perched on a pile of clothes, the tiny pup appears distraught. It turns out, Piddle’s dog sister and “comfort dog”—a black chihuahua, basenji and labrador-mix named Gracy—had been euthanized a few days earlier, devastating him, along with his owners.
Although Piddle was only left alone for two hours, it was his first time without Gracy and unfortunately, he didn’t seem to enjoy the experience.
Fellow dog lovers were heartbroken for Piddle, with the post receiving over 6,000 likes and more than 400 comments.
‘He Was Never Really Alone Before Gracy Was Gone’
Russell and her husband adopted Piddle last year, after their dog Stella passed away at age 15.
“After we lost Stella, I saw how much my husband was suffering, I wanted to get him another friend,” she told Newsweek. “I got Piddle as a surprise. Unfortunately, that totally backfired because he is totally attached to me.”
The couple already had rescue dog, Gracy, then 9 years old. At first, she was unimpressed with her tiny new sibling, but Piddle took an instant liking to her.
“Gracy was an old lady and absolutely annoyed that we had to get another dog,” Russell said. “It took her a bit to warm up to him. She was kinda like the annoyed big sister that loved him, but just wanted him to chill.”
Nevertheless, Piddle always wanted to be by Gracy’s side. He’d sleep next to the older dog, as well as cleaning her ears with his tongue.
“Gracy was the sweetest dog and had never ending patience,” Russell said. “She loved everyone and got so excited about the possibility of some pets. As soon as you sat down she was on you, no matter where.”
‘She Was Just Such a Brave Dog’
On February 28, Russell noticed that Gracy wasn’t eating all of her food. At first, the veterinarian suspected an infection, but X-rays revealed that Gracy had cancer that had spread throughout her body..
According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 6 million dogs a year are diagnosed with cancer, while the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says that half of dogs over the age of 10 will battle the disease.
Although there is little that owners can do to prevent cancer in their pets, early detection is crucial. Some symptoms include swelling, difficulty eating or breathing, changes in weight, and wounds that struggle to heal.
Unfortunately, Gracy had no prior symptoms. Her health deteriorated quickly over the next two days, and she passed away on March 2.
“She was just such a brave dog,” Russell said. “I decided to put her down the next day, but by the evening [the pain] had gotten so bad that I didn’t want her to suffer anymore.”
Throughout her short illness, Piddle continued to stay by Gracy’s side, even barking at the vets when they got “too close” to her. Unsurprisingly, he was devastated to lose his big sister, and has struggled with being alone in the days since.
“He was never really alone before Gracy was gone,” Russell said. “The day he was hiding in the washer, I took the kids to soccer practice and he was alone for maybe 2 hours. I think he went in the washer because our clothes were in there and he could smell us, and also because it was covered and small. It broke my heart.”
‘He Is Still Looking for Her’
Since finding him in the washing machine, Russell has taken extra steps to support Piddle, such as leaving music on any time he is alone and building him a small safe house—complete with a heating pad and his favorite blanket and toys. She has also installed a pet cam so she can keep an eye on him.
“If we can, we take him with us,” Russell said. “But he’s doing much better and I think we found some good ways for him to cope.”
Piddle will also be getting a new brother shortly, as her husband has been approved for his first service dog—a 1-year-old yellow labrador called Jesse.
“He’s training with his service dog right now, since he has pretty severe post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury from serving in the military,” Russell said. “Thankfully, we will be welcoming him home by the end of the month.”
Although Russell hopes Piddle will bond well with his new brother, he still searches for Gracy.
“He is adjusting, but he wants to be with us all the time,” she said. “And he is still looking for her, especially when he sees squirrels and wants her to chase them with him.”
‘My Heart Can’t Take It’
The story turned Dogspotting Society group members into emotional wrecks, with Bersy Navarro Palmera writing: “I can see the pain in his eyes…”
“Poor little fella, so hard for you to see him grieving as much as you are,” wrote Jude Ryks.
“Omg my heart can’t take it! So sorry for your loss,” commented Cierra Holcomb.
“They look like they had the most incredible bond,” said Claire Hughes.
While Veronica Lee Ronny Xiberras wrote: “That is such a sad sight to see, so glad your getting him a friend.”