Am I ready for another pet?

The ifs and whens of getting another pet can be complicated and emotional, and no two experiences are exactly alike. While there isn’t necessarily a “right” or “wrong” decision, there are some questions you should ask yourself to help explore whether you are ready for this big step.

new kittenWhy do I want a new pet?

There are many wonderful reasons to open your heart and home to another animal family member, but there are also some not-so-great reasons. Ask yourself why now? and be honest with yourself. If you can’t bear the pain you are feeling and you are hoping a new friend might cheer you up, consider waiting. You want your new relationship to be an exciting beginning, a time when you can look forward to the future together and give your new pet everything they deserve. That doesn’t mean you will never have another pet, it just means you are holding off while you focus on yourself until it feels right.

Can I deal with the stress of a new pet?

Bringing a new pet into your home is a major life change. With all the joy and excitement that a new pet brings, it also brings stress and anxiety. Waking up with a new puppy in the middle of the night, cleaning up accidents, or trying to mend your shredded couch corner takes a level of patience and positivity that you might not be able to give quite yet if you are still deeply grieving. Shaking things up when you still feel vulnerable and bereaved could leave you feeling exhausted and frustrated with your new family member.

Am I sure?new pup2

Take it slow and give yourself time to think and feel it through. If you’ve decided to start looking for a new companion, do your research, talk with your family, talk to the rescue or foster parents thoroughly and listen to your gut feeling. If it stops feeling right, you have permission to take a step back and revisit the idea later. Even when you think you are sure, stay in tune with how you feel as your dip your toe in the water. Sometimes you won’t know how you feel until it’s happening, so it’s best to explore the decision from many angles and give it as much thought as you can.

Whose idea is this, anyway?

When the topic of getting a new pet comes up, the people around you might have a lot of opinions on the matter, but their opinions can often be more about them than you. Maybe they want a new puppy to play with, or maybe they were ready for a new pet, so you should be, too. Maybe your partner is already looking at cute collars or your kids are begging for a new kitten to cuddle. Take some time to truly think about if it feels right to you and then be empowered to stick by your decision.

How can I continue processing my grief, even after I get a new pet?

IMG_6473This is the most important question to ask yourself. For some people, getting a new pet signifies the end of the grief process and the start of a new beginning. But, in reality, it’s not that black and white. It is possible to miss your pet every single day, while also loving your other pets at the same time. If you get a new pet, there are things you can do to continue healing from your loss in healthy ways. Create traditions that memorialize your pet or create a beautiful space on a shelf with photos, poems and belongings. Create a storybook or scrapbook as a family while all of your memories are fresh in your mind. You might even think of creative ways to include your new pet in these activities.

The beautiful thing about the human heart is that it holds an infinite amount of love. New love does not replace old love, and new memories do not replace old ones. You are not replacing your pet, nor should you want to.

There is no one-answer-fits-all with these questions. Some people feel ready a few weeks later, some may wait years, and some may never have the desire to get another pet. It is normal to have anxiety about this decision, and it’s good to take the time to think about it from different perspectives and at different times. At the end of the day, you must ask yourself the big questions, be honest with yourself, and listen to your heart.

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