It’s not an uncommon question for dog parents who have recently lost their four-legged child. But what exactly is the answer?
It has been almost a month since we lost our boy and I’d be lying if I said that this isn’t something that has been playing on my mind.
The instinct for any dog lover is to have canine companionship. After losing a beloved dog, however, that instinct is challenged by “propriety” and the complex emotions of grief. So…what is the answer?
Is it Too Soon to Get Another Dog or Not?
The truth is that there really is no “right” answer to this question.
Grief is a different experience for EVERYONE and more than that, different losses cause different experiences with grief.
A good portion of your experience with grief after losing your beloved dog will be impacted by the circumstances of that loss. For example, if your loss was very sudden it may take you longer to come to terms with your loss than if you nursed your pup through old age.
There is also the length of time you spent as your dog’s guardian as well as the bond that you had with your dog to consider. Yes, we are all connected to our dogs, but some dogs – our “heart dogs” – take a little more of our heart when they cross the Rainbow Bridge.
Okay, But What About Getting Another Dog?
When you are considering adding another dog to your family after the loss of one of your furkids, it’s important to honor your grieving process. It is also important to pay attention to the grieving process of your spouse and other family members.
As someone with plenty of experience with grief (both human and canine), I can tell you that grief is sneaky. You can walk out of your vet’s office after putting your dog to sleep with the confidence of someone who KNEW it was the right thing to do, yet that night you may find yourself inconsolable. You may power through the first week after your loss, keeping yourself busy and making final arrangements to honor your dog, but only when you slow down two weeks later does the grief hit.
However your grief plays out, it’s crucial that you give yourself the time needed to experience it before inviting another pup into your life. It’s simply not fair to ask a new dog to adjust to a new life and new home with the weight of grief lingering overhead.
It is not only the unfairness of asking a pup to flourish under the burden of your grief, however, it’s also the expectation you have of your new dog to be so much like the dog you lost. When you are still experiencing the rawness, the newness of life without your beloved pup, bringing home a new dog will leave you constantly comparing – “Well he never did that!” “Why can’t you be more like…”
So When Is It Right to Bring a New Dog Home?
Nope, I still don’t have an answer for you!
What I can tell you is that you should give yourself time to mourn your loss.
Grief doesn’t go away. You will always mourn your losses in life, but time will bring change. For me, this change means being able to smile at memories more than I cry over losses.