Replacing A Deceased Dog

After losing a beloved dog, many heartbroken people contact me for advice about when the ‘right’ time will be to welcome a new pet into their lives.  My advice is one of support and the guidance I offer is as variable as the person asking the question.

It may seem that everyone you meet has advice to offer about when to get a new dog.  I have found that it is never a good idea to let anyone talk you into getting another pet before you are ready.  It’s important for you and your family to grieve the loss of their beloved pet in their own time.  Considering another pet should be a decision the whole family is involved in Be cautious not to compare your new dog to your former pet.  Are you looking for the same breed of dog, same temperament, or are you looking for a new experience?  Pet lovers tell me it might be difficult to replace a similar bond with a new pet, but with time a lasting bond between you and your new pet will grow?  I like to think that God made one dog and then threw away the mold, just like He made one of us.

There are several issues you need to be sensitive to when children are involved.  First and foremost, never get a child a new pet because they are sad and you are trying to fix their mourning.  As much as it pains all parents to see their children sad, children that experience a loss need to grieve.  In many cases getting a new pet too soon interferes with the grieving process and this is often not a good thing.  Simply trying t replace an old pet with a new one devalues your child’s feelings and relays the message that living things we love are replaceable.

Bonds between a child and a dog are as unique and as special as each of their individual personalities, they can never be exactly replaced.  There are times when quickly finding a new pet may help calm a child.  Children who act out with undesirable behaviour such as tantrums or sleep disturbances as a result of their pet’s death, might react to a new pet in a positive manner.  Parents, however, must also be emotionally ready for a new dog as well as all new things have their challenges.

I have found that a death of an animal is not the only cause for grieving a pet’s loss.  There are times when a dog must be removed from the home, be it a family move to a different city, an allergy, a change in finances or any other circumstance that requires saying good bye to a beloved pet.  These can also give us cause to grieve.

Adding a new dog to your home is adding not only new loved but new responsibilities.  It may be years since you’ve had a puppy in the house, so your family needs to be aware of all the training, work and cost which will come with your new puppy.  Take time to research the temperament and care requirements of different breeds.  Choose a breeder that will fit in well with your family and lifestyle. Research an approximate list of costs from your Veterinarian for the pup’s first year of vaccinations,  Spay/neutering, etc.  Involve all family members in the selection process and preparations.  It is important to not only research the breed but the breeder as well.  Confidence that the breeder places the dog’s well being over financial gain is a must.  Ask questions of the breeder and research the answers to be sure you are truthfully being informed of all facts.  Go and see the breeder’s home and meet all the dogs the breeder cares for.  See where the dogs spend most of their time.  Are the dogs well socialized?  Are they living in a clean environment?  Have the dogs been properly potty trained?  Do they all look healthy?  Does the breeder offer a written Health Guarantee with a Vet’s health Certificate?

I have been aware of companions pets that show signs of grief with the loss of their pet pal.  Animals my express grief-like emotions, such as anxiety, depression or sleep disturbances.  It’s open to debate whether these displays are solely a reaction to the loss of a companion or to the owner’s own emotions and depression, but it’s well known that dogs form attachments to other pets.  Depending on their bond and level of interaction, I am told pets also can feel grief.  Now, should you get another pet for your pet?  Here also, a new pet will not replace the lost on.  Personalities need to be considered when adding another pet to the home, often the sex of the dog is considered as well as the breed, and age of the new pet.

There are times when a dog owner might decide to purchase a new pup or older dog when they realize, as a result of health problems, that their present dog is advancing in age and their time is expiring.  This focus often helps the dog owner as well as the ageing pet.  I have been told that a pet pal actually made the ageing dog get healthier.  This practise also allows the owner a gradual transition in preparing to lose their companion and break in a new friendship.  Best friends are not just the two legged kinds.

Whenever you decision is bring a new pup or dog into your home it is my hope that you enjoy your new-found love.  Remember to savour the moments of bonding as all animal lovers know just how bonded we can get to our pets.  Embark on building a new friendship, the truest kind, only a loyal dog can bring.