I wouldn't for one second suggest that there's anything good about our losing the girls. It has been devastating for us, and we've even observed Dodger having nightmares (he never was the type to growl and bark in his sleep--we hope it's helping him work out his grief).
But some interesting things have happened in the past few days. We threw out Mandy's ball, because it was just too crushing to look at it lying there, while the girl it belonged to had departed this life. When they played together, Dodger would grab it to play a sort of keep-away game when all three of them went after it, but he was never interested in playing ball himself.
The day after Mandy died, I found a new tennis ball, still in its wrapper, in the closet. I unwrapped it and asked if he wanted it. Not only did he want it, but he chased it when I threw it and brought it back to me. This type of canine behavior was never in Dodger's repertoire!
Then today, a friend at work who was hurting for us brought me a bag. In it was a big, fuzzy bone-shaped dog toy and some treats, along with a card:
A little something to help lift the poochie's spirits.
Sorry for your loss!
I thanked her repeatedly for her thoughtfulness (it was very thoughtful and really touched me!), and I brought the bag home. This evening, not only has Dodger taken an interest in the toy but he actually was using it to play tug-of-war with Marc.
After all these years, Dodger turns out to be a dog?? I suppose so. I actually had wondered, from time to time, if his behavior would change when the girls were gone--figuring, based on ages and health issues, that this day would come someday. Sure enough, it has. The kids spent a lot of time competing with each other, trying to show who was in charge, etc. They never even threatened to hurt each other, but they were like competitive siblings.
So now, it appears that he can just relax and be a dog. Considering how we got here, I certainly have very mixed emotions about it. But if we had to lose Bernice and Mandy--and that definitely was beyond our power to fix--at least if he can have some of the puppyhood he never got to enjoy, then that's a good thing.