After helping your pet every step of the way during her battle with cancer, we grieve with you when your beloved companion passes on. Facing such a huge loss is incredibly difficult, and people cope with the gaping hole in their lives and their hearts in a variety of ways. Some choose to bring home a new pet immediately, some vow to never love an animal again, and some bring home a pet of a drastically different species. If you still feel lost after saying goodbye to your beloved companion, our five tips will guide you on your path, as you consider a new pet.
#1: Take time to grieve
Avoid rushing into finding a new pet to fill the hole in your heart. Although a wagging tail, or a contented purr, can bring joy, you want to avoid a new pet who is only a band-aid. Honor your lost pet’s memory by allowing yourself plenty of time to grieve. Also, if you bring home a new pet too soon, you may constantly compare your new and previous pets, which is not fair to your new furry friend. By taking enough time to mourn properly, you will find a separate place in your heart for your new pet, rather than making her live up to the impossible task of replacing your lost pet.
#2: Understand there is no “right” time to bring home a new pet
If you take a public opinion poll on the “right” time to bring home a new pet, you will receive a great many answers. But, no response can tell you the right time for you and your family. Some people cannot bear to be without doggy kisses or feline trills to greet them at the door, while others feel that welcoming a new pet immediately is disrespectful. While you can consider other opinions, especially your family members’, no one can tell you the “right” time for a new pet. The decision can only be yours, and your decision is always right.
#3: Consider your family’s feelings about bringing home a new pet
While you may feel ready to welcome a new pet, the rest of your household may not feel the same way. Since each person grieves differently, it may take some time before everyone is on the same page, so hold a family meeting, ensuring you discuss the following points:
- Establish that everyone has had the opportunity to grieve properly.
- Discuss each family member’s desire, or lack thereof, for a new pet.
- Decide the characteristics you’d like in your new pet.
- Discuss potential sources, such as an animal shelter, reputable breeder, or rescue group.
Listen intently to each family member’s opinion before making a group decision. A new addition can lead to resentment if everyone is not ready, or cannot come to an agreement.
#4: Volunteer at an animal shelter
Losing your pet can take a large chunk out of your life, and your heart. If you’re not quite ready to welcome home a new pet, volunteering at your local animal shelter is a wonderful way to care for pets who desperately need love and attention, and fill up on canine cuddles and feline purrs, while allowing yourself time to grieve.
If you can’t bring yourself to shower another pet with love for a while, that is completely normal. For many, seeing someone playing with a cat or dog is like pouring salt on an open wound. But, once you’re ready to enjoy a pet’s companionship again, your local shelter is a great place to start.
#5: Decide if you want a similar pet, or one completely different
Deciding what sort of pet to welcome home may be your most difficult decision. You may be afraid that if you choose a similar pet, you’ll be constantly comparing the two, but you may not enjoy a radically different species. For example, you decide to branch out after losing your feline friend, and choose a snake, but once the snake is home, you realize you cannot cope with feeding it mice—catnip mice are your limit.
Do some soul-searching about the pet that will best fit your lifestyle, by asking yourself the following questions:
- Species — Do I want a furred, feathered, scaled, or slimy pet?
- Personality — Do I want a pet to kiss and cuddle, or to admire, with little contact?
- Purpose — Do I want a pet for a specific purpose, such as my protection, or to compete in sporting events, or simply for companionship?
- Experience — Do I want the experience of caring for a new species, or should I stick with the familiar?
- Readiness — Am I truly ready to open my heart to a new pet, and show her the love and attention she deserves?
Keep in mind there is no correct timeline for grieving a lost pet, and welcoming a new one home. You may choose to never have a new pet, which is completely fine. Or, you may empty out your local shelter the next day. Nothing can ever replace your lost pet, but there is always more room to love another one.
No matter how you choose to grieve and recover from your pet’s loss, the Pearland Animal Cancer and Referral Center team is here for you. Give us a call if you have any questions about welcoming a new pet into your life. And, when you do, we would love to meet her.