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When to consider another pet?

created at: 2010/10/02When your pet dies, there is a huge void in your life. Your routine is broken and things are never going to be the same as when you shared your life together. 
I miss so many things about my pets- the greetings at the door, the walks and games in the park, the silly songs I used to sing to them, their endless enthusiasm for life and especially their love and companionship.

Unfortunately, many people who have not loved a pet as you have do not understand how you feel when they die. They often see pets as a replaceable item but nothing could be further from the truth.   When your pet has died, the last thing you want to be asked is ‘if you are going to get another one?’ I was asked this many, many times and it made me both sad and angry that people could devalue my relationship with my pets.

 You will never replace your pet but there does come a time in most (but not all) pet lovers lives when they feel ready to welcome another pet again. But you have to be ready and there is no set time for this. Everybody is different. Most people need to take some time out and mourn their loss. This is normal.

The right timing is very important or else you may find yourself feeling resentful of a new pet or feeling like you have betrayed your deceased pet. This of course isn’t true but these feelings can really damage your relationship with the newcomer.In a family situation, it is best to wait until the last member of the family feels that he/she is ready to welcome a new companion.

It can be very hard to imagine ever being able to love a pet like you loved yours and some people are so distraught by losing their pet that they vow to never go through the heartbreak again. That is all understandable and don’t let anyone pressure you into getting another pet if you don’t feel ready.

Many people miss the companionship of a pet very much but for a number of reasons are not in the position to commit full time to another pet. There other options to consider that may help you fill the void and give you the opportunity to still enjoy the company of some furry friends. It can be a nice opportunity to help out animals in need or give something back to society in return for all the joy your pet brought you.

Fostering - thousands of pets around the country need homes at any time. Providing a temporary home until an animal finds a Forever home is a great help.

Puppy Raising for an organisation like Assistance Dogs Australia or Guide Dogs - here you volunteer your time 

Pet Sitting or dog walking- there are many poeple who simply hate leaving their pets at home alone during the day and if you are at home during the day, you could offer to dog sit or walk their dogs. Check out www.dogtree.com.au - this is a service that helps you connect with other pet owners in your area.

For me, personally, my house is not a home without a pet.  When I suddenly found myself with no pets, it marked the saddest and loneliest period of my life. You don’t realise how many times you open the door to let your dog in or how often you pat your cat until they are gone. I miss my pets terribly but I also just love the magic that pets bring to my life.

My decision to welcome a new pet was not made lightly. Pets are a big responsibility and they can be restrictive on your lifestyle especially when it comes to travel. I chose to get a cat first- a Maine Coon called Fantastic Mr Fox. He is a different breed, totally different appearance and opposite sex to my sweet Milly.  This has worked well for me as I am not comparing him to Milly but am embarking on a new and special relationship with him. And I do love him-he is naughty, clumsy and mischievous as well as very cute and cuddly and he has definitely brought some sunshine and joy back into my life.

Remember, a newcomer needs time to adjust and become a part of your family. It takes a while before you know each other well and develop a close bond – be gentle on your new friend and yourself and you may be surprised at the wonderful relationship that develops.

Dr Katrina Warren created at: 2010/10/03

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