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A little over 6 months ago we lost our sweet Buddy dog to cancer.
If you’ve ever had a pet you love dearly you know how painful that loss is and how big of a space it leaves in your home and heart when they are gone.
Buddy was my hubby’s right hand man. He hung out with him in the garage while he worked on cars, he went fishing with him at the lake, and if Scott said, “You want to go bye-bye?” that dog jumped at the chance!
When he heard the rattle of the bag when Nathan took out the trash he was right there to go out with him. And anytime anyone threw a ball for him it made his day!
He was a constant in our family, a friendly face after a long day, a snuggle buddy on the couch when you weren’t feeling good, a friend to our other dog Sydney so she was never alone.
He was a good boy too. The kind of dog that just seems to get it. The kind of dog that just knew how to be a good dog, wanting to make his people happy all the time. From day one he didn’t chew things, didn’t have accidents in the house, and always listened.
So in March when we said goodbye we knew that the space he left would be a big one, and that it would take a long time to heal and even be open to the idea of getting another dog.
I knew it would be especially hard for Scott. Buddy was the first dog that he had ever been so very close to, so he had never experienced that loss before.
Overcoming the feeling of loss
When you’ve lost a pet and start thinking about getting a new one that feeling of loss is there in the back of your mind. It is an unfortunate reality of having a dog or cat that you are most likely going to out live them. Once you’ve lost one you realize that opening your home and heart to a new dog means that you’re opening yourself up to that pain again one day. Of course you hope that you have years with your new furry friend but that isn’t always guaranteed. So you ask yourself if you want to open yourself up to that again?
For me the feeling of letting go of that hurt started when I took our foster cat to a local shelter for a vet visit. I saw, lined up in cages, big dogs, small dogs, fluffy dogs, old dogs… all with a pleading look in their eyes that begged for a home with people to love. I knew then that we would eventually get another dog. That our sweet boy Buddy who started out as a stray, would want us to help another dog have an awesome life!
When you take care of your dog by purchasing PEDIGREE® products at Sam’s Club during the month of October, they’ll donate a bowl of food to a dog in need. It is a simple thing we can do as pet owners to help all those dogs waiting for forever homes!
While yes, you will have to say goodbye to your dog one day, the joy they bring you while they are alive is immeasurable. Those slobbery kisses, that friend who is always there when you need to talk, that ball of excitement when you come home at the end of the day… the unconditional love you get from an animal that just wants to be there for you and asks very little in return is kind of amazing. When you focus on that, the feeling of loss starts to diminish, and the want to give a new dog your love starts to surface.
Big Shoes to fill
Getting a new dog is a gamble. Do you get a puppy? Puppies are so much work, there’s the chewing, the pooping, the waking up in the middle of the night… Don’t get me wrong I love puppies… other people’s puppies. But maybe that’s the best choice, you can bond when they are young, you can train them. But is that what you want??
Adopting an adult dog is also iffy. You don’t know where they’ve been, how old they are, if they’ve got bad habits, if they’ll get along with your other pets.
When you’ve had a dog, one who was a great dog, who knew the rhythm of your family you realize that another dog is going to have big shoes to fill. You have to realize that the new one, whether puppy or grown, is going to be different, and bringing them into your family is going to be a big adjustment for all of you!
How do you decide?
Ok so you’re trying to get over the pain of your loss, overcoming the anxiety of the what-ifs of adopting a new dog… how do you make that decision.
I think for everyone it is different. But I’m going to share how it happened with us.
I believe that after the loss of a pet everyone needs time to grieve in their own way. For us Buddy was so sick that our grieving started even before we said good-bye, and we knew that when he was gone that he wasn’t in pain anymore. That helped a little… but not much.
The boys started asking about getting a new dog first. While they love Sydney, they like having a big dog to play with, wrestle and play fetch. I told them we had to wait.
Then I started seeing adoptable dogs come across my newsfeed on Facebook. Those sweet faces, puppies and dogs that needed a forever home, and I felt ready to open our home to a new one.
But Scott wasn’t ready. I could tell. When I’d show him an adoptable dog he’d smile and shrug it off. When he saw the puppies at the lake he commented on their cuteness and walked away. When he grabbed his fishing pole he’d get a sad look in his eyes… “I miss my dog.” he’d say and I knew he wasn’t ready.
I told the boys we had to wait until Daddy was ready for a new dog too. The whole family had to be on board, it had to be a decision we were all ready for. I told them to give him time, and when the right dog came along we’d know.
One day I logged into Facebook and a notification from a local Buy Sell Trade group caught my eye. A dog whose family needed to rehome him. Maybe it was how cool his eyes were, or the eagerness on his face but when I saw the photographs of this dog I snapped a picture and sent it to Scott.
“Oh wow,” he replied. “When can we go meet him?”
See I am a firm believer in the fact that animals find us. All of our dogs have been shelter dogs, rehomed from families that couldn’t take care of them, or strays. Every cat we’ve ever had has just showed up at our house or been a stray that needed help…. they find us.
We’ve never set out looking for a dog, Sydney came into our lives when a neighbor who was mistreating her just looked at me and said, “You can have her if you want her, we’re getting rid of her.” Our dog before that, Spunky, was a shelter dog at an adoption event at our local Walmart. We went there for groceries, but when we met him we knew he’d be coming home with us. And Buddy, running the streets 15 pounds underweight just hopped in Scott’s car and came home with him.
They’ve just happened upon us at the right time and right place. This time it just happened to be Facebook.
I don’t think getting a new dog has to be forced, it doesn’t have to be a decision you consciously make. It has to be a feeling, a healing in your heart and the willingness to open it up again, and the right dog to help you do that.
Our New Boy
We went to meet this big guy and knew right away that he would be coming home with us. At only 4 months old and about 50 pounds he was a big ball of fur, excitement, and heart. He leaned up against Scott and gave him a full body dog hug, and Daniel declared him epic, it was decided.
His name is Bear, and he has rapidly worked his way into our hearts. He’s still very much a puppy, but is really understanding fast how to become a great dog. He loves to hang out with us. After a few tries he’s figured out how much he loves car rides with Scott. He hangs out with him in the driveway while he works on cars. He doesn’t go fishing yet… but that will come I’m sure.
Any apprehension about how he’d fit in is gone. (unless maybe you ask my chickens or cats.. they’re not sure about him yet!)
It took a little while but he and Sydney are becoming good friends.
They’ve worked out meal time… Bear scarfs down all his dry food then his PEDIGREE ® Homestyle Choice Cuts Wet Dog Food and kindly offers to help Sydney finish hers!
Saying goodbye to your furry family member is one of the hardest things in life. These pets are so much more than animals, they are our friends, our company, our constant companions. But once the pain subsides and you can overcome the worries, opening your heart and home to a new dog who is just wonderful!
How did you know it was time for a new pet? Have you ever adopted a shelter or re-homed dog? I’d love to hear your stories!!