Following the loss of a pet, the priority is to acknowledge and work through your grief. It can be very tempting to rush out straight away and get a new friend and undoubtedly in some cases this can help with recovering from the bereavement. However it can also lead to problems for both you and your new companion and in general, it is advised to wait for a period of time.
Ultimately there is no ‘right time’ to get a new pet that applies to everyone and it is an individual decision depending on a variety of factors; indeed some people never feel able or wish to get another pet. Essentially the right time is when you feel you have worked through your grief sufficiently to be able to look ahead and be positive about a new companion rather than continuing to dwell on your loss.
If you are not yet ready to have a new pet in your life, there are still options for spending time with animals. Read more here.
2. What are some important considerations with respect to my new friend?
One of the most important things to remember is that by getting a new pet you are not seeking to ‘replace’ or forget your last companion and you must not, therefore, feel guilty or disloyal – there is arguably no better way to honour your deceased companion's life than by giving a new chance to another one. There are plenty of animals in the world in need of a good and loving home and you will be forming and enjoying a new human-animal bond not replacing the last one. It is therefore also important to remember that your new friend is an individual in his/her own right and you should not expect him/her to be the same as your last one with respect to personality and behaviour; to do so is to put unfair expectations on your new companion. Develop a new and individual relationship with your new friend.
When choosing your new pet it is essential to take your time to be sure that you are making the right decision and one with which the whole family – especially children as far as possible – is agreed. Animal shelters and rehoming facilities typically employ a vetting procedure to try and ensure both that you can meet the needs of your new pet and that your chosen pet is suitable for you and your home environment. Don’t try and rush this process, it will be worth the wait!
Another consideration that it can be easy to overlook is how getting a new pet can affect other surviving pets in the home. Just as with human members of the family, pets can also grieve the loss of a companion (see Pets and Pet Loss) and some of the same concerns apply; will introducing a new pet act as a source of comfort or resentment or indeed will your surviving pets be indifferent? It can take time for pets to form new relationships and work out their hierarchy and it is essential to ensure that you devote equal time and attention to the surviving pets as to the new one.
3. Where can I get a new friend from?
There are literally millions of animals in the world in need of a good and loving home and the Ralph site strongly encourages people to get new pets from animal rescue shelters and rehoming centres.
Once you have got a new pet, why not tell everyone else about him/her and post a photo or video too – click here.
Prayer of a Stray
Dear God please send me somebody who'll care!
I'm tired of running, I'm sick with despair
My body is aching, it's so racked with pain
And dear God I pray as I run in the rain
That someone will love me and give me a home
A warm cozy bed and a big juicy bone
My last owner tied me all day in the yard
Sometimes with no water and God that was hard!
So I chewed my leash God; and I ran away
To rummage in garbage; and live as a stray
But now God I'm tired; and hungry and cold
And I'm Oh so afraid; that I'll never grow old
They've chased me with sticks; hit me with stones
While I run the streets; just looking for bones
I'm not really bad God; please help if you can
For I have become just another; "victim of man!"
I'm wormy dear God; and I'm ridden with fleas
and all that I ever wanted; was an owner to please
If you find one for me God; I'll try to be good
I won't chew their shoes; and I'll do as I should
I'll love them; protect them; and try to obey
When they tell me to sit; to lie down or to stay!
I don't think I'll make it; too long on my own
Cause I'm getting so weak; and I'm Oh so alone
Each night as I sleep in the bushes I cry
Cause I'm so afraid God; that I'm gonna die
I've got so much love; and devotion to give
That I should be given; a new chance to live
So dear God please; oh please; answer my prayer
and send me to somebody; who will really care
That is dear God; if You're really there!