The Effects of Companion Animals During Conjugal Bereavement

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This study was designed to evaluate the effect of a companion animal on the grief experienced from conjugal bereavement. It was proposed that bonded dog owners with strong social support would adjust best to the loss of a spouse, that bonded dog owners with a weak social support system would do as well as non-pet-owners with a strong social support system, and that non-pet-owners with a weak social support system would adapt the poorest. The subjects in the study consisted of 89 Caucasian women, of whom 34 were bonded dog owners. The results confirmed that there were differences in adaptation between bonded dog owners and non-pet-owners. However, the results did not confirm the proposed graded adaptation. While non-pet-owners reported a deterioration in health after the loss of their spouse, bonded dog owners reported no such deterioration if their health was good. However, bonded dog owners reported a greater sense of loss of control if they had had their dogs for a long time.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 1987

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