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The survey was detailed and probed lots of different psychological measures.

Sixty-nine responders reported losing a pet and filled out a battery of so-called complicated grief.

A 56-year-old dog breeder lost her 14-year-old Yorkshire terrier, one of her champions.

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Nearly 32 percent reported some kind of grief features — numbness, disbelief, preoccupation with the loss — lasting at least six months, and 12 percent said their grief caused at least “slight functional impairment.” Seventy-five responders reported the loss of a pet and filled out a battery of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

I’ve often written about PTSD; it’s defined as the recurring memories and heightened state of arousal that lingers for more than a month after a traumatic event.

As psychologist John Archer explains in this 1997 paper (that link will get you the full if you’re interested in any of these parenthetical references): “Pet owners treat pets like children, for example, playing with them (Smith 1983), talking to them in motherese or baby-talk (Hirsh-Pasek and Treiman 1982), continually referring to “my baby,” and holding and cuddling them as one would a baby (Carmack 1985; Serpell 1986)…

Similar (but less systematic) evidence that pets act as child substitutes can be found from anthropological and historical accounts of other cultures: this includes breast-feeding of young animals by humans (Messent and Serpell 1981; Savishinsky 1983; Serpell 1986, 1987).” ✼ A few years ago researchers in Hawaii surveyed 106 people while visiting the waiting room of a veterinary clinic about their experiences as pet owners.

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Even using the most liberal criteria, none of the survey responders would meet criteria for PTSD, the study found.

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