The grieving process is different for everyone. Some people may go through it relatively quickly, and some may take years to get over the loss of their pet. Once we can see a glimmer of light, a question starts to surface. “Am I ready to open my heart to a new pet?” So, how soon is too soon to adopt a new pet; to open our hearts and homes? It seems like an easy question; however, it is also going to be different for everyone.
When my mom had to let her dog Grizzly pass over the Rainbow Bridge, she was so hurt that she did not want to bring in a new pet at all. The loss of Grizzly was so painful, she struggled with the knowledge that if she were to welcome another pet into the family, her heart would break again.
I understood that mentality; but I also felt that opening my heart to a new fur baby had benefits that outweighed the grief… like Alfred Lord Tennyson’s saying…’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
Here are some questions to ask yourself when you are looking to add a new member to your family.
How Are you Coping with the Loss?
Take time to work through your grief. Don’t rush the process. You have just lost a loved one, so it is ok to feel sad, lonely, and depressed. It’s also ok to feel relieved, especially if your pet had suffered a long term illness. Check in with yourself to see how you are feeling. Can you see a glimmer of light or is everything still too dark? If you were to adopt a new pet, would it only cause you to look back at the pet you lost, or will you be able to look to the future?
Only you will know when you are ready.
Is Your Family Ready?
Just like you, your family is also going through the grieving process. Since there is no specific timeline on when you should be done grieving, it is important to consider your partner and children in the decision. Do they feel ready? Are they still struggling with losing their fur baby? Do they understand that the new pet is not going to be the same as the one they just lost?
Have conversations to check in with each other. Be honest with your family, and ask them to be honest with you. If someone is not quite ready to accept a new fur family member, respect their decision, and see if there is anything you can do to help them through the grieving process.
If you have other pets in the household, they may be grieving the loss as well. For example, if you have another dog in the household, he or she may be mourning the loss of their friend, but that does not mean that adding a new dog into the household will make them happy. Watch your pet’s body language, eating habits, and moods. When you see they have returned to their normal self, you may be able welcome another fur baby into the family.
What are My Expectations?
A new pet will not be anything like the pet that has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. Do not expect a new fur baby to act like your other pet. They have their own personalities, quirks, behaviors, and their own way of showing love to you.
My dog, Roc, was an 85lb red Malamute who wooed and roooed for his dinner. He got so excited to go on walks, and loved hanging with his family. He did not mark anywhere in the house, was not destructive, but he did counter surf.
Now, I have two Mals who are completely different from Roc. Nuka, my 85lb female, is timid around other people, but is super goofy around her immediate family. Beckham, my 140lb male, loves people, hates car rides, and is the “fun police” when Nuka is goofy.
If I had expected Beckham and Nuka to be just like Roc, I would have been sorely disappointed. Honestly, I would have resented my decision to adopt them which could have made for a difficult living situation for a while.
When you begin to look for a new pet, please remember to wipe the slate clean. Go in with an open mind and an open-heart, and know you are not going to find a pet just like the one you lost. Each one is special in their own right, and you will love them for all of their little quirks.
Is this a Hasty Decision?
Rushing into a decision (any decision) can have a negative outcome. Don’t push yourself or let anyone else push you into adopting a new pet too soon. You need the time to process your grief, but you also need time to think about the future.
Making a hasty decision can result in the adoption of a pet that does not fit into your family, and the pet may have a higher likelihood of being returned to the shelter or the breeder. A hasty decision can also result in holding a grudge against the pet you just lost as well as the pet you just adopted.
Take your time to think about what you are looking for in a new fur baby. How is this pet going to fit in with your family? Will you have time to train them, to exercise them, and to spend time with them? You will find the perfect match, but it may take time… And that is ok!
I would love to give you a finite number of days, weeks, or months that it takes to go through the grieving process. Unfortunately, everyone processes grief differently which means it is hard to determine how soon is too soon to welcome a new fur baby to the family. I can only tell you that the grief will lessen, and you will move forward.
Once you start thinking about adopting a new pet, consider the questions above. If you can honestly answer them, and understand a new pet is a NEW family member, then it may be time to look at opening your heart to a new family member.
Now you just have to figure out who you want to bring home.
I would love to hear your stories and opinions. Leave a message below, and I will respond as soon as possible!