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The Right Time to Get Another Dog, After One Dies

I’m sure people wonder about our timeline on getting another puppy or dog. We’re not even thinking about looking until spring 2015. I’m announcing this in part to keep well-meaning folks from sending me links to adoptable dogs. It’s also a statement of faith that at some point in the future I won’t feel quite as grief stricken as I do today.

Some pals support the idea. Others caution me not to make rules or constrict myself with a set timeline.

Maybe it’ll make more sense in this context.

Heartbreak unimaginable. We’ve grieved all our dogs. Losing Lilly is galaxies beyond anything either of us have experienced. I cannot imagine trying to bond with a new dog until the utter desperation stage of this grief wanes.

dog blog champion of my heart costar Ginko

Ginko comes first. At nearly 14 years old, with bad knees, 2 heart conditions, and (now, it seems) neurological problems, Ginko is the reigning canine champion, and his needs come first. (See the Champion of My Heart Facebook Fan Page for details on Ginko’s collapse on Monday.)

Financial recovery matters. It’s going to take us a while to recover and to build back up our savings and such. This step is important because EVERY dog of ours ends up costing a few thousand dollars in medical bills right away. We joke that’s how we know they were meant to be ours. Depending on what comes from Ginko’s new problems and how my business does in 2014, it may take longer.

Household changes needed. We’d like our next generation of dogs never to know anything but a new fencing configuration on our land. Right now, the perimeter is fully fenced, and we have a nice chain-link dog run off the house. However, we want to add some fencing for an actual “back yard,” where the dogs would be safer and without access to the road or to other dogs or livestock on adjacent land. In addition to time, that’ll cost money as well. We won’t have either until summer 2014 at the soonest.

Travel planned. Tom and I haven’t been on vacation since 2001. We desperately need a significant getaway and many other smaller ones sometime soon. That too takes money and time we don’t yet have. Again, it’ll depend on Ginko’s health. He doesn’t do well at a kennel, and we don’t use a pet sitter based on past bad experiences.

To write a book (or not). A book was always the reason for the blog. Whether it’s a memoir-like book or a bunch of smaller, topic-specific ebooks or both, writing is a huge commitment of time and energy (and no money upfront). I know that it would be hard to write about Lilly while trying to bond with and care for another dog.

Call this list excuses, if you like, but these are the reasons why the timeline may be on the long side.

Everyone deals with such losses in their own way, and there is no guarantee that one loss will be the same as another — even in the same family.


Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Jane Boursaw - February 10, 2014

I think it’s great that you’re giving yourselves time and space before thinking about another dog. Only you know when the time is right.
Jane Boursaw recently posted..Feb. 9, 2014: What’s On TV Tonight?My Profile

Pup Fan - February 7, 2014

Only you can know when the time will be right for you. ((hugs))

I hope Ginko is doing okay. ((double hugs))
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Donna O. - February 6, 2014

They don’t sound like excuses at all…each one valid reasons to hold off for a while. I’m so sorry that Ginko health is declining too. Sending you some virtual hugs.
Donna O. recently posted..Boots on a BudgetMy Profile

LeeAnne - January 30, 2014

You and only you know what you have to do to best deal with the loss of Lilly and Ginko’s needs. You will know when the time is right and when the right dog crosses your path. Following you with love and sending prayers for strength and healing.

merr - January 30, 2014

The time presents itself. You just know when it’s right; you just do.

Hilary - January 30, 2014

I agree with most everyone here–and of course, with you. There’s a lot on your plate, you need to take good care of Ginko, recover financially and carry out your plans. I don’t know why people would want to push you–but I’m sure it’s probably not something they think through. I’m not sure if I could even get another dog when Luna goes–these losses take a significant toll. But, you will know when you feel up to it, and that’s the right decision. Hugs and love always.

Ingrid King - January 30, 2014

Only you can know when the time is right, and I think you’re wise to make an announcement about your time frame to prevent well meaning friends from sending you links to adoptable dogs, or worse yet, to show up with a puppy. My heart hurts for you – I simply can’t imagine the depth of your grief for Lilly.
Ingrid King recently posted..Euthanasia: Knowing When to Say GoodbyeMy Profile

Living Large - January 30, 2014

Only you know when the time is right.
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cybele - January 29, 2014

No one has the right to question how and when or why you decide to bring another dog into your home and heart. And now it’s Ginko’s time for your attention in his old aged frosty faced end of the trail. You don’t have to explain your decisions to any of us readers of your blog. You both need a respite from the prolonged losses you’ve suffered the past year or two. Go, be free and enjoy life and please continue your blogs if it doesn’t interfere with your book. You may choose to remain dogless or one day the sparks will fly when you see that special one. “Hold your head up, woman!” remember that song?

MisterSpuddy - January 29, 2014

Sounds like excuses to me. Maybe you just have too much going on in your life to have a dog now. And- thousands of dollars in vet bills off the bat? Try natural vet care- you’ll save at least that if not more. Didn’t a vaccine cause Lily’s problems in the first place? It stinks to lose a dog and I’m sorry for your loss.

Heatherl - January 29, 2014

I totally agree with what you’ve decided and I’m sure it comes after much thought. We kind of jumped into another dog after our beloved beagle died and it wasn’t a smart move.
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Vera Marie Badertscher - January 29, 2014

Sounds very sensible. I know it took me several years after our last dog died before I was ready. But then I was eager. And for heavens sake start planning that vacation!
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Saoirse - January 29, 2014

Roxanne, I know you to have a deep wisdom about what is right for you and for those in your care. I understand and appreciate the sharing about your plans, because we do sometimes have those awkward questions in our minds. As usual, you have used your gift for words to help us not be quite so awkward. Thank you. Blessings to Ginko.

KB - January 29, 2014

I’m not sure there’s ever a “right” time. In fact, I’ve always chosen what intellectually seemed like the “wrong” time but it was what my heart told me to do.

I can definitely see that Ginko needs time to be showered in all your attention and love, especially since he’s a senior. He looks like a super sweetie.

Robin - January 29, 2014

You have the right idea. Wait and meet those other goals first. Those will help you have a well-balanced life. You and your hubby and Ginko need recovery time too.

SHeryl - January 29, 2014

I feel for you. Between the heartbreak, the financial ruin and the special bond that goes beyond any other, you are dealing with a lot. I’m sure, when the time is right, you will come to the right decision.
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Alexandra - January 29, 2014

I understand this emotion. When we lost our beloved Acey during my adolescence, I could not imagine getting another dog. Fortunately my parents couldn’t either.

Jana Rade - January 29, 2014

The only one who knows what the right time is, is you. Nobody else. I don’t believe there is any rule determining what the time should be.

I thought that after Jasmine’s passing I was gonna take a very long time … including enough time for both emotional and financial recovery. Jasmine thought otherwise; she really wanted me to do this, I know that. So we adopted Cookie in five months. Cookie has been a blessing (to us, not to our finances)
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Cathy - January 29, 2014

No one can tell you when you’ll be ready. When we lost our JRT, Roxie, the dog of our hearts as Lilly was yours, we planned to wait two years. When, ten months later, our grief still wasn’t easing and we’d thrown ourselves into our work to the point of working 12- to 16-hour days and hadn’t done all the travelling we’d hoped to, we decided it was time–just for our own sanity. It’s been three and a half years (and we have three very loved rescues in our house), and yet we still grieve for Roxie. (I’m crying writing this.)

Take your time. Take care of Ginko. Don’t let others push you before you’re ready. You’ll know when the time is right. It just happens.

Hugs to you.
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Maggie - January 29, 2014

Regardless of what anyone says, even if they think they’re helping, you HAVE to do what’s best for you… and I’m so proud that that’s what you’ve done the whole way along this journey. And please, please do take that vacation!
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Dr V - January 29, 2014

Not excuses. Wise, thoughtful statements. Too many people rush in before they have allowed themselves to finish the grieving process and made rash decisions that are not fair to them or to the pet. I think it’s wonderful you have such a keen sense of self awareness and know your need to grieve is going to take a long time.

Donna Campbell - January 29, 2014

My heart aches for you in the grief you feel for Lilly and now to have to deal with the dread of worse to come for Ginko. My animals are always family to me.. I think you will be ready to add another dog to your family when you are ready! Love to you for all that you give and all that you are!

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