If you are like most people,you will eventually decide to get another dog after yours has died. This is a personal decision and one that should be made very carefully. The entire family should be involved in deciding the best time to commit to a new relationship. The time frame for this is different for everyone. Bringing a new dog home to the family before everyone is ready can hurt someone by implying that the dog’s death is insignificant.
You may feel that you loved your passing dog so much that you can’t bear the thought of bringing another dog into your life and going through the loss again. Give yourself time. Try not to rush into making a decision until you have sorted out your feelings and grieved. Well-meaning friends and family may encourage you to adopt another dog before you are ready. Resist this. When you see a new pair of yearning eyes looking into yours, you will know when you are ready.
During your time of grief,remember to pay attention to the other animals in the home. They also will be affected by the loss of your senior, as well as by your own grief and stress. They may react in various ways, including exhibiting personality or behavioral changes. This is usually temporary. If you have another dog that is suffering from the loss of his senior friend, try to keep his routine as normal as possible and lavish him with attention at this time.
One of the greatest legacies you can give your passing dog is to provide your love and compassion to another dog that so desperately needs it. Some people eventually find comfort in going to a local animal shelter and adopting a homeless senior dog. This should be done with some care. Often, people feel that adopting another dog of the same breed and coloring as the dog that has passed will help them deal with their grief. This is usually a mistake. The second dog is not the first dog, and it is unfair to expect him to be. By choosing another dog that is physically different from your passing dog, you will learn to love and appreciate his unique qualities.
If you are not quite sure you are ready for another dog in your life, try fostering an animal through a local animal rescue group. You will not only provide housing and love to a homeless dog while he is waiting for a permanent home, you will be able to test your own readiness without a long-term commitment.
Every dog, especially a senior animal, has so much to offer and will surely enhance and bring joy to your life. If you feel you have grieved and your heart is telling you to open yourself up to another relationship, you are probably ready. For some, there is no better medicine for a hurting heart than the love of another dog, while for others, the best medicine is time. Jennifer Kachnic, CCMT Excerpt from the book Your Dog’s Golden Years www.seniordogbooks.com