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Adopting a New Pet After Loss

We can never replace a beloved pet and getting another pet is a personal decision. When, if ever, is it time to adopt? Was the death of your pet too painful to adopt again? This article explores the benefits and risks of adding a new pet to your family and asks: Can new love grow?


The Decision is Personal

The choice to get another pet varies with each person. Some people get another pet immediately because they do not want to be alone. Other people take their time and may wait weeks or months before adopting a new pet. Still others do not get another companion animal because the pain of loss is too great, or the thought of grieving again is too much to bear. There is no right and wrong here. The decision is deeply personal.


Grief is the Price You Pay for Loving

Of course, you can never replace the pets who die. Just as every person is an individual, every pet has his own personality. For me, the love that I have for the animals in my life can never be replaced and I do not want to replace it. I have had a unique and personal relationship with each one of my animal friends. After a time, however, I find that my heart has the capacity for new love to grow.

Grief is the price you pay for loving. Through all the tears and sadness comes one thought that can make you smile again: You deeply loved your pets and that love was returned to you a thousand-fold.
They will always hold a special place in your heart, a place that no other animal can fill.


Do You Risk Loving Again?

The pain of losing a beloved animal may raise questions about adopting another pet. Will your broken heart dare to risk loving an animal again? When, and only when, you are ready, your heart will accept another pet into the fragile circle, and you will love once more.

In the natural cycle of life, the fragile circle expands, contracts and expands again. As you welcome another companion animal into your home and heart, you will begin to understand that love is the strongest force in the universe. Through your pets, living and dead, you experience unconditional love firsthand and that is their greatest gift to you in the fragile circle of life.

Adopting another pet after loss is not for everyone. Be at peace with the decision you make. You will always have the loving memories of your deceased pet to comfort you.



From Ask the Animals: A Vet’s-Eye View of Pets and the People They Love by Bruce R. Coston, DVM.


I suspect…that a deep love and empathy [for animals] is not a hereditary trait. I certainly didn’t inherit it from my parents. I have come instead to believe that it is a random, almost reckless gift from God to a privileged few who throughout their lives honor the Gift. The Gift does not come without a price, to be sure. For it is accompanied by the burden of seeing innocent animals suffer at the hands of pitiless people, the responsibility of raising orphaned squirrels and blue jays, and the crushing blows of losing special pets. But in repayment, the gift returns a wealth of rewards from the animals that enrich our lives—rewards that are unnecessary for me to list here, for those who share the Gift already know, and those who don’t, wouldn’t understand anyway…


And paraphrased: We recognize the Gift in others and ourselves, accept the rights and responsibilities it bestows and affirm it again and again throughout our lives. Thank you, God, for the Gift.  

Chris' Note: Ask the Animals is reminiscent of James Herriot’s wonderful books. Coston’s memoir offers funny, sad and touching stories about a veterinary practice where the patients cannot speak yet communicate deeply.

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