I seem to come across the term “that’s how we used to do it” a lot with this business and the answer to “how soon after losing a dog should we get another one?” is no different. The standard answer used to be “right away” however we’ve come a long way to understanding how our own behaviour can affect our dogs so that answer may work for some…but probably not most.
For some, the loneliness of an empty house makes grieving more difficult, and a new dog can help the process. Others, however, may feel resentful toward a dog obtained too soon. The time to obtain a new dog is when you have worked through your grief sufficiently to be confident that you can look forward to new relationships, rather than backward at your loss. For some people, that might be a matter of days or weeks; for others, it might be months or years.
I recently lost both my Samoyeds; Luka suddenly to a brain event and Hannah to a slow degradation of her health to the point, I decided send her over the rainbow bridge so she could run and plan in peace.
It’s been exactly a week without Hannah and a month without Luka. My 3 kids were hit especially hard and I shared every bit of their heartache since those 2 beautiful souls have been beside me everyday for 13 years.
Discussions around if/when another dog would come into our lives started before we lost Hannah and with a fair amount of thoughtfulness. I felt guilty doing it initially, but soon realized I could do it without taking any of my grieving for Hannah and Luka for granted. My kids, who are all older, helped me through these discussion as we seemed to balance the grief/loss process and excitement of starting the journey over with a new dog.
I have started researching what kind of dog will work for my family, I’ll never replace the two which just passed and I know I don’t want to. Every dog has their own personality and charm and I’m earnestly looking forward to new adventures with our next fur-baby.
Tips on Choosing a New Dog
Don’t make a hasty decision. Give yourself time to think. Don’t let anyone rush you into a decision or pressure you into making a choice that isn’t right for you. (If it isn’t right for you, it won’t be right for the dog either!) Also, don’t let a well-meaning friend or relative force the decision on you by getting you a new dog before you are ready.
Don’t think of the new dog as a “replacement” for your previous dog. You don’t replace relationships; you build new ones. Your new dog will be a companion with whom you build an entirely new set of memories and experiences.
Research your choice carefully. Shelters are deluged with dogs who were selected unwisely and subsequently “dumped.” Make certain the breed, size, sex, behavior, and needs of your new dog are appropriate for your lifestyle. Avoid the temptation to adopt the first animal you see to “fill the void.”
Involve all family members in the decision to obtain a new dog. In particular, consider the needs and feelings of your children. Children build strong attachments to dogs, and may feel that giving their love to a new one is “disloyal”. Make certain all members of the family have had a chance to work through their individual grieving process.
Do consider the needs of your surviving dogs. Will they welcome or resent a newcomer? There are studies that show how dogs grieve and mourn the loss of a companion. Remember, however, that most cats and dogs are territorial by nature, and that it will take them time to adapt to a new dog.
Once you have introduced a new pet into the household, make sure your existing dogs or other pets continue to receive the love and attention they deserve.
In closing this article, whatever decision you make, do it patiently and take whatever time you need so you are happy. And if you’re blessed with getting another furry soul, I hope you both love each other endlessly.