Coping With the Loss of a Dog

The decision to get another dog after losing one is very personal.

Q. I have had two dogs together for the past eight years. I adopted the second dog after I had the first dog for about a year. They loved each other dearly. My original dog died recently after she had been ill for a few days. My adopted dog, a Standard Poodle, is just moping around and misses her friend (so do I). How soon should I get another dog for us? We are the only two in the house. I thought that I should wait a few months, but what are your thoughts? The Poodle is about 8 years old.

A. I am sorry to hear of your loss. Mourning is a very personal and individual experience. Some people have difficulty coping and immediately adopt another dog. Sometimes they will adopt the same breed or one with a similar look in an attempt to “replace” the one they have lost. Since it is impossible to “replace” a loved one, they are doing themselves and the new dog a disservice by denying themselves the necessary time to grieve.

However, there are also people who, although overwhelmed with their loss, get another dog right away as an aide in the healing process. These people accept the loss and look for a dog not as a replacement but to bring happiness into their lives. They do not look for the same breed or one similar, but for a companion to begin a new chapter in their lives.

As for your existing dog, her loss is just as devastating as it is to you. If she loves other dogs, then another dog, preferably a male since opposites seem to do better, around the same age or at least with a similar energy level can help distract her, get her out of her depression and add joy to her life as well.

There is no right or wrong answer since it is an individual decision and you know yourself best. Do keep in mind that when the time comes, you and your dog should be partners in the decision-making process. Take your dog with you to the shelter and you will see whom she likes best. This will help to ensure that the dogs meet on “neutral territory” which is key to getting off to the right start. Good luck to you.

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