Tips for coping with your loss and acquiring a new pet after losing one
On January 16th, 2019, I lost my best friend of ten years. My border collie Lucky had to be euthanized due to severe health issues.
My husband and I were devastated. Even our toddler Willow was acting out after he passed away, throwing epic tantrums while screaming “doggie gone!!”.
Since I am a fortunate person, this was my first experience with the death of a close loved one. I’ve gone 35 years without experiencing soul-crushing grief.
In the days following Lucky’s death, our household was a sad one. My husband fell into a deep depression, our daughter was miserable, and I would wait until she was asleep to cry in bed.
We were in bad shape, but that would soon change. We would be happy again.
Two weeks later, our household is full of smiles and love again. We are laughing, having fun, and slowly healing from Lucky’s passing.
How did we find our smiles again? We adopted a female border collie puppy, who we named Phoenix.
We would’ve done anything to bring Lucky back, but that was not an option so my husband did the next best thing.
He called the farm I had adopted Lucky from and asked the owner to put a hold on a female “blue merle” border collie puppy.
The adoption of our new family member was meant to be. Phoenix was ready for adoption a week after he called which gave us time to prepare for our new addition.
I believe if something is meant to happen, it will happen. If there aren’t any signs or if there’s a lot of obstacles, it’s not meant to be.
Our new puppy is a descendant of our dog Lucky. Lucky’s mother is her great grandmother. Talk about kismet.
Now, this is a controversial act for many pet owners. Some pet owners feel it is totally disrespectful to the memory of your deceased pet to immediately get a new one. They feel that you’re replacing your pet as if they didn’t matter.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In our case, we had to move on. We had enough love left in our hearts to give another dog a loving home.
Naturally, I worry that people will not understand. I am afraid everyone will think that we replaced Lucky like he was an old pair of shoes.
The thought of anyone thinking that Lucky didn’t matter to us is very upsetting to me.
However, we needed to do this. I have no regrets, our house is full of life again, and we couldn’t be happier.
Tips for adopting a new pet after a recent loss
- This approach is not for everyone. Some people are not ready to open their hearts after a loss and that’s ok.
- If you have a bad feeling about getting a new pet or there is a lot of obstacles to getting your new furbaby, take it as a sign from the universe. It is not the right time.
- Avoid rushed decisions when adopting a new pet, especially if you’re thinking of getting a dog or cat that reminds you of your deceased pet. This is unfair to both of you. You will be forever comparing them to each other.
- If anyone in your home is resistant to the idea of adopting another dog or cat, it is a good idea to reconsider adoption at this time. Everyone in the family should be on board with this decision.
- If you have children, explain to them that you are not replacing your deceased pet. Let them know that many animals need homes and your family has enough love to give them the life they deserve. Again, if the child doesn’t want a new pet, consider waiting for a while before adopting a new furry friend.
- Take some time to think about what you really want for a new pet. If you’re selecting the same breed, get the opposite sex and a different color than the pet you had before.
- Do not use any of your deceased pet’s items with your new pet. Buy a new collar, leash, and new dishes.
- Make a special collage of your lost “furbaby” and put it on your living room wall. We did this and it feels like Lucky is watching over us. It is very comforting.
- Allow yourself to love this new pet, while honoring the memory of your deceased dog or cat. Talk about your grief, as it will still be there no matter how many new pets you acquire.
- Remember this is your choice. It’s not up to anyone else to decide what is best for you and your family. If you want to get a new pet, get one. If you are not ready, please don’t get one.
Another dog or cat will never replace the loss of your pet. They were very special to us. However, a new pet can fill a void if you are ready to open your heart again.
Our pets touch our lives in ways that we are not aware of until they are gone.
When we lose a pet, we lose a family member and best friend. Pets love us unconditionally, no matter who we are or what we have done. It’s a pure love built from loyalty, trust, and respect.
Allow yourself to feel the loss but if your life feels empty without your pet, consider rescuing an animal that needs a home.
They may need you, as much as you need them.
Lucky’s Story: One Dog’s Gift of Unconditional Love and Unrelenting Support
A goodbye letter to a friend, confidant, and warrior
Amy Cottreau is a freelance writer who hails from a small city in Atlantic Canada. She enjoys interacting with fellow writers, dreaming of ideas for her next article, and researching a myriad of topics. Feel free to follow her on Twitter!