Have you ever wondered what other animals think about death? They must have some concept of death just due to natural instincts, they avoid danger, no? Or… do you think they know what pain is, don’t like it and avoid it? Death is just a result of pain sometimes, animals may have no concept of death.
The reason I bring this up is because of something I saw on the way to work today… it was really quite sad. I had just left the house and was driving down a back road on the way to the highway and saw two squirrels on the road. One was dead, having fallen from the trees above I assume because his body still had shape. The other squirrel was just sitting there no more than an inch away from his lifeless friend. When a car from the opposite direction came and went over the dead squirrel (not running it over, just straddling between the tires) the squirrel that could, did indeed skitter off to the side of the road. I was passing at the same moment and was never able to see if the squirrel that was alive came back to his post, mourning his friend.
Does the squirrel that is still alive know what happened, does he know that his friend isn’t going to get back up? I love animals, so of course I have myself convinced that the living squirrel was showing compassion and was out in the street paying his last respects to his friend. But what do you think?
I’ve been told that when one of my guinea pigs dies, the other will mourn the loss of his companion and be visibly sad. But is it with knowledge that the other animal has passed on, or is it selfish ambitions of just being lonely?
One day we will be able to communicate more efficiently with other animals, and many questions will be answered. I am a religious person, so as much as I don’t have a desire to die anytime soon, I know that it is just a stepping-stone to something even greater. Do animals know this? If they don’t, death really is something to fear.
You hear stories about dogs saving their owner’s lives. An elderly woman falls and Fido runs out to pull the letter carrier inside to call for an ambulance. Animals have attachments; they might even know what it feels like to love… but to what extent do they understand this world? That is a million dollar question and hope that someday I know the answer.