Feeling Guilty About Getting a New Dog After Your Dog Dies

People sometimes contact me after reading the pet loss book I wrote (called Heart Dog: Surviving the Loss of Your Canine Soul Mate). People often ask about feeling guilty about getting a new dog after your dog dies. I have a theory about love that might help.

Tips for NOT Feeling Guilty About Getting a New Dog After Your Dog Dies

Love is unlimited. There is more than enough to go around. When you need more, more gets created on the spot. So, when you are ready to welcome a new dog into your life, to walk at your side, and to snuggle in your bed, etc., the love will GROW to meet the demand. You are NOT taking away any love from your other dog. You’re simply adding even more love into your life.

In fact, adding a new love to your life may grow the love you have for the dog you’ve lost because that dog taught you so much about love. I also like to think that Lilly helped bring our 2 new puppy-girls to us. Each of them has a bit of her inside, it seems, and I know she would be happy that their love is helping us heal. Open your heart to the possibilities.

If you haven’t already shopped for memorial items for the dog you lost, it might help to get that done before you think about bringing another dog into your life. For example, many people like the idea of being able to wear or carry their dog’s ashes with them. I also like the idea of a picture frame that includes a way to mount your dog’s collar.

Even a New Puppy is No Magic Cure for Grief, Though

Living with another dog will help in many ways, but it will not magically fix the grief. I wish it did, but it doesn’t. So you will still have sad times, even amid the joy of a new friend. I will share, though, that it’s tough NOT to make comparisons. I still struggle with that, but in all the ways my current sweeties are different … I try hard to remember that different is just different — not better, not worse. They have big shoes to fill, but they also are their very own special souls, and they deserve to be appreciated and honored for who they are – completely separate from Lilly. Photos and videos you have of the dog you’ve lost will help keep the memories alive as you make new ones with a new dog. Anytime you feel like maybe you’re forgetting the nuances of your other dog, break out the pix and videos. I watch old Lilly videos all the time, even now … years later. I very much hope these ideas help you as you move forward with maybe getting another canine friend.

It’s an individual decision. Only you will know the right time to get another dog (and right dog), if there is such a thing.

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.

Phil - January 17, 2018

Hi Roxanne, I just came across your article on the Royal Canin Genetic Health Analysis test from a couple of years ago. That article is closed for comment, but I thought I’d give you my opinion on a possible explanation for the “90 genetic tests” for which you only received 15 results. I don’t work for Royal Canin, and I can’t get inside their minds, but there are multiple mutations that can result in a single genetic disease. I suspect that they do multiple tests for each of the 15 diseases that they list (an average of 6 tests per disease, since 6 X 15 = 90) in order to be sure that they are checking for all of the possible mutations that cause a particular disease. This is speculation on my part, and I agree, they should have been more forthcoming in explaining their results.

    Roxanne Hawn - January 17, 2018

    That’s an interesting thought, Phil. Thanks for the idea. If so, then I still think the marketing is misleading, and how hard is it to explain something like that when a customer asks? I’m running into that a lot lately with big companies — both as a consumer and when I’m doing actual reporting work for my life as a professional writer. Oh, and yeah, sorry about the comments being closed. If I leave them open for too long, it attracts all kinds of comment SPAM.

Angeline Wallace - January 15, 2018

Thankfully I haven’t had to use this advice yet, but I fear the day when I’ll inevitably have to…

Thanks for the great post, Roxanne.

chris - January 13, 2018

I lost my first heart dog Beammer in Aug 2007. I could not stand the empty feeling and we had a puppy (Cherokee) a week later (we still had the heart dog’s companion who was 9 but it was still lonely with only one dog). Eight years later I lost that dog tragically (four different vets could not decide what was wrong with her) and she had become another heart dog to me in her lifetime. You can have many heart dogs in a lifetime I had read someplace. We still had her two companions but it was still too quiet for me so two months later we came home with sisters. I see a lot of Cherokee in the two sisters (Lakota and Cheyenne). So I know that she lives on in them. It is hard and I still cry sometimes even for Beammer who has been gone now for 11 years. You have to do what feels right to you not what feels right to other people.

John Shuma - January 13, 2018

Another great article for people who may be vacillating between new dog, no new dog. I have read and digested the whole book and then decided on another dog. It definitely helps . I got him only three months after the death of my heart dog, so it was hard. More time may have been better,but I definitely am glad I did it…..others will be too.

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