When my sweet Jack Russell Terrier of 15 years passed away, my world fell apart. My dog, Milo, was my constant companion and loyal friend, and life without him became instantly unbearable. I knew I could never replace him and that I would never find another dog like him. But I also knew that I could not stand the emptiness in the house without him. So how would I know when I was ready for another? Would there ever be a ‘right time’ to find another dog?
I am not a veterinarian. I am not an animal expert. But I can tell you what it was like for me, in the search for another companion, and how I made the decision to bring a puppy into the house again. And it was the absolute correct decision, 100%, without a doubt.
Give Yourself Time
I spent most of my life with a furry companion next to me, and the sudden emptiness was so foreign to me. I missed walking in step with a dog, simple as that. But for the first few months, I knew I could not love another yet. It was too soon for me, and I feared I would not give a fair start to a new dog if I brought it into the house now. Too many comparisons, too much pain. So I waited.
Visit When You’re Ready
I missed petting my dog and simply being around him, so when I was a little stronger, I started to visit some shelters and even a pet store (although I don’t recommend buying there), just to be around dogs again. I brought donations to my local shelter. I met with many of the dogs there, but somehow, I just knew they weren’t right for me. I visited some breeders, one of which I loved, and hoped to someday return to her when she had puppies available. That was my plan.
You Can’t Plan Everything
One day, 7 months after losing Milo, my sister called and urged me to go see a puppy that was up for adoption at a local pet store. I didn’t want to go. I was angry that she was pushing me–I already had a plan with a breeder, after all. But I went. And as soon as I met Spot, I knew, just like I knew when I met my beloved Milo some fifteen years earlier. This was the dog for me. This was the dog for my family. And whether I was ready or not, he needed to come home with us.
We Start Again
Now my house is filled with dog toys. They are everywhere. I have to get up early in the morning and take walks twice a day. I go to dog training classes. I rush home when I am out too long, because I know that puppy is home waiting for me. And I love it. I love every last, puppy-filled minute of it. I won’t lie, the pain of Milo’s loss is still with me. I still miss him every single day. But learning to love Spot gave me new direction. It filled an emptiness here, and it reminded me that life goes on. Milo would’ve wanted that, too.
Related Articles by Deborah Zelasny:
Easing the Pain of Pet Loss
My Experience with an Animal Communicator