A reader asked how to know when you’re ready to adopt a dog after your dog dies. You may still be in shock if your dog died recently, and it may be too soon to think about getting another dog.
The Willow Tree Angel of Friendship is a beautiful way to remember your dog.
Here’s what my reader says: “How long should one wait to get another dog? I have been feeling so empty and guilty that I was considering getting another dog and started feeling guilty about that! My coworkers say I shouldn’t get another dog right now but my family says it is OK to want another one.”
Another reader said something similar: “I lost my 9 month old boxer puppy suddenly to a seizure, and I’ve been feeling really guilty. There was nothing I could do about it. My dog died in my arms this morning and I cant stop thinking about him. I really want to adopt a dog but I’m feeling really guilty about getting another dog as I loved my boxer with all my heart. I feel very guilty about loving another dog that isn’t him. At the same time I want a dog really badly after the wonderful times I’ve had with my boxer. Do you think I should get another dog?”
The first comment was on my article about how to know when to put a dog to sleep; the second was on my article about guilty feelings after pet loss.
The most important thing to remember is that different people heal from their dog’s death in different ways and at different speeds. Some people may need months to grieve after their dog died, while others know right away that they’re ready to get another dog after their dog died. They don’t need signs! If you feel you’re ready to adopt a dog, then it doesn’t matter what your friends, family, or coworkers say.
There’s no right or wrong way to answer this question. But, here are a few things to consider…
Are You Ready to Adopt Another Dog?
You don’t have to be 100% healed before you adopt a dog, but you should give yourself time to grieve after your dog died – especially if you feel guilty about your dog’s death. Your dog’s death is a traumatic, sad, and life-changing event. It’s important to work through the early phases of grieving before you start a new relationship with another dog.
You don’t feel like you’re betraying your previous or current dog
Timing is everything when considering whether to get a new pet,” writes Wallace Sife in The Loss of a Pet (a good book to read after your dog died). “You must be ready for the new relationship, or both you and the new pet may suffer because of your underlying resentment. We could be hesitant or even fearful because it feels like betrayal to the deceased pet, even though it isn’t.” Adopting a dog isn’t betraying the dog you loved, so there’s no need to feel guilty. Guilt is for when you do something wrong, and you didn’t do anything wrong when your dog was alive! You took excellent care of him. Now that he’s gone, you yearn for another dog because dogs are a wonderful source of unconditional love and fun. There’s nothing wrong with adopting a dog soon after yours died – and there’s also nothing wrong with waiting for more time to pass.
You feel a little anxious, but deep down know the timing is right to adopt a dog
How do you know if you should adopt a dog? By making sure the timing is right for you. Don’t let other people talk you into or out of getting another dog, or say it’s too soon to get one. You may not be 100% sure of your own readiness to get another dog after your dog suddenly died, but you can do certain things that will help you know if you’re ready. One of the main things are your own gut feelings. Another is to walk other people’s dogs.
If you haven’t had a memorial for your dog yet, read 5 Types of Cremation Urns for Your Dog’s Ashes.
You can walk other dogs and feel good about adopting a dog
Do your friends, family members, coworkers, or neighbors have dogs? Ask if you can take the dog for a walk. Notice how you feel when you’re walking the dog. If you can’t stop crying or have extreme feelings of depression, guilt, anger, or resentment, then maybe it’s too soon to adopt a dog. But if you feel okay – maybe not 100% happy because you’re probably reminded of your dog who died – then you might be ready for the next step.
Do you know what type of dog you might want to adopt? Read What Your Favorite Dog Breed Says About Your Personality.
You can visit an animal shelter or dog rescue without breaking down
Don’t commit to adopting a dog yet – you’re just looking around. Do not allow yourself to be tempted to go home with a dog. This first visit to an animal shelter is about testing the waters and tuning in to how you feel. You’re still coping after your dog died, but a sing you’re ready to adopt a dog is that you can go to a shelter and feel ready.
You feel connected to a dog at the shelter
Sometimes all it takes is one meeting or one look at an “adoptable dogs” site online to know you’re ready to adopt a dog. You feel your heart pulled towards that dog, and you want to take care of him or her. This is a sign you’re ready to adopt a dog – it’s your heart telling you that you’re ready to love a homeless, lovable animal.
Personally, I would adopt a dog soon after my dog died. I have two dogs, and love love LOVE sharing my life with them! I’ve lost several dogs, but haven’t lost a dog to death yet…so maybe I’ll feel differently after one of my dogs die.
Are you struggling to cope with your dog’s death? Read Letting Go of an Animal You Love: 75 Ways to Survive Pet Loss.
I welcome your thoughts on these signs people may be ready to adopt a dog after their dog died.