“I’ll never have another dog. It hurts too much to lose them.”
I hear that sometimes from people I meet. But I don’t understand it. For me, any pain is worth suffering to enjoy the love of a dog.
But that doesn’t mean it’s smart to rush out in your grief and adopt a new dog. Especially if you’re hoping to plug the hole in your heart left by losing your last dog. It’s unfair to you. And it’s unfair to your dog.
So when is it time to get another dog? Here are the questions that helped me make that tough decision.
Is the Timing Right to Get Another Dog?
When Agatha died in October, I felt emotionally ready to get another dog in December. But December is an awful month for us to adopt a dog.
It was our job, as a childless couple, to travel on the holidays. We often found ourselves passing through several states and spending Christmas afternoons in highway rest stops.
No, not a good time to have a new dog settling in to our lives. It’s why I’ve adopted three dogs in January. And Honey came to us in March.
Have I Done All the Tasks I Can Only Do Without a Dog?
Maybe you’ll think I’m callous. But it’s true. There are some things you cannot do when you’re caring for an elderly or ailing dog.
I find myself trying to squeeze a lot of activities into the time after a dog’s passing. In part, it’s helpful to have something to do. The house is so empty and quiet. Work and travel takes my mind off my loss.
But it’s also a relief to have time and energy for something besides caretaking. And it’s a great incentive to get things done. “Once I finish redoing the bathroom, I can bring another dog home. Yippee!”
Am I Emotionally Ready for Another Dog?
I don’t believe I should bring another dog into my life when I’m still sobbing helplessly over the last one. You may disagree.
But I need to have something to give to the new dog settling into my life. And if I only expect a new dog to comfort me, I’m not giving him the best start in a new home.
Do I Know What I Want in a New Dog?
I had no idea what kind of dog I wanted when Agatha passed. I guess I assumed that all dogs were like Agatha and Christie. And that I’d get a young dog who would spend years chewing my furniture, howling when I left the house, and stealing food off the counters.
But my husband knew what he wanted in a new dog. He found the elderly, mellow Agatha a good companion. When I told him I’d probably be visiting the SPCA during my lunch break, Mike said, “I’d like a dog who’s calm.”
It focused my search. It kept me from adopting the pit bull who ate my friend’s purse. And it led me to my lovely 9-year-old Shadow.
Can I Live One Day Longer Without a Dog?
That’s the overwhelming feeling I remember when I adopted my last dog, Shadow. I couldn’t imagine not having a dog in the house one day longer.
I almost feel like the decision to bring Shadow home was so spontaneous. I usually take days or weeks to decide something.
But I had no choice. My heart was crying out for another dog.
How Do You Know When It’s Time to Get Another Dog?
I’m emotionally retarded. No, really. It once took me a week to realize I was angry at my husband.
I don’t understand emotions. I don’t trust them.
So I analyze problems with my brain. I discount emotions. You may be different.
I’m curious. Do you run through a checklist to decide if you’re ready to bring another dog into your life? Or do you trust your heart to tell you when it’s time?
And what advice would you share with a friend who’s asking herself this very question?