How Long Did You Wait to Adopt a New Dog After Your Dog Died?

My parents adopted Shea Farrell after only 5 weeks, but he didn't replace Jessy -- instead, he made us remember why we love dogs so much.
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Dogs are much like children. You have to feed them, put them to bed at a reasonable hour and, of course, you congratulate them when they go No. 2. And just like children, a new addition to the family doesn’t replace the old. Even when your dog passes away and you decide to get another.

This past summer my Yorkie, Jessy, died unexpectedly. While on vacation for a weekend, I came home to find out she had been in the hospital for four days and was to be put down that day. I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.

The death of a dog is one of the hardest things to go through. There’s nothing like coming home and expecting a happy face to be waiting for you at the top of the stairs — tail wagging (a little stump in Jessy’s case), head bobbing and warm and welcoming eyes — to instead find a cold empty house.

Jessy lived at my parents’ house, and although I moved out more than two years ago, I still found that loneliness every time I came to visit. When our previous dog Teddy, a West Highland Terrier, had passed away, Jessy was the one who got us through it. Although she wasn’t the most compassionate pooch (she was more of a “let’s play and then cuddle” pup), she kept this brightness in the house that we all needed. When she left, there was no one to fill that loneliness.

The day that Jessy died, my dad said he didn’t know if they’d ever get another dog. “It’s too hard,” he said. In later weeks, both my mother and father found that living without a dog was even harder. You can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them, eh? Three weeks later they were already looking for another dog. First my mom wanted a Yorkie while we all tried to persuade her against it. “But if it looks like her, it’ll feel like she’s still here with me,” she said one night. At that moment, I made my goal to talk her into a Westie.

On September 1, my parents brought home Shea Farrell, an adorable, vivacious, yet surprisingly calm, Westie puppy. Although he is the same breed as our first dog (my mother’s allergies makes her options extremely limited), he has a personality all his own. And we do compare him to Jessy now and again — he doesn’t scarf down his food in a minute flat, he likes to lie beside you on the recliner, and he’s a bit of a scaredy-cat — but we never feel like he replaced her. In fact, I think about how much she would have loved having a little brother to play with.

Many have asked us if we got a new dog too soon. “Isn’t that like trying to replace your dog?” My response is always no. Many dog owners may feel they need to mourn for longer, and that’s completely understandable. Getting another dog just a month after his passing may make you resent the new dog. Each person needs to find the right time, when she feels that she is ready to open her heart up fully. My family just so happened to be ready in five weeks. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t mourn her properly or don’t think about her every day. Just like Teddy, who died more than six years ago, I accept that I will still be missing her many years from now.

Shea Farrell has been the one to make each day easier. His unconditional love is a reminder why having a dog is so worth it, even though they’re not with us nearly long enough. Just like Jessy brought us love and happiness when we lost Ted, Shea has been a bundle of joy (he is a baby, after all), and, honestly, a welcome distraction. I forgot just how much work a puppy can be!

Shea may physically replace Jessy in the sense that he uses her bowls, sleeps in her doggie bed and plays with her toys — although we stored away her favorites, of course. That aside, he doesn’t replace her. He couldn’t. A new dog brings new life to a home because no two dogs are the same. That’s part of their charm.

Each new dog that enters your life brings something new to the table. Teddy had this compassion that taught me early in life that the best way to be there for someone was to literally be his or her shoulder to cry on. At 10 pounds, Jessy didn’t take anything from anyone. She had a Napoleon complex and she wasn’t afraid to show it. And now there’s Shea. He’s so mildly tempered, he rarely even barks. The runt of his litter, he’s meeker than both Jessy and Teddy, but he knows when to make his feelings known. With a crew like that, how can you ever expect to replace one dog for another?

Have you ever adopted a new dog shortly after one died? How was the experience? Tell us your story in the comments.

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

About the author: Shannon Farrell is a freelance beauty and fitness writer residing on the Upper East Side of New York City. When she isn’t testing the latest mascara or running through Central Park, she’s dog watching. There isn’t one in Manhattan she hasn’t commented on. #crazydoglady

33 thoughts on “How Long Did You Wait to Adopt a New Dog After Your Dog Died?”

  1. I lost my dog this morning. We only had 8 weeks together. He just turned 4 months on Sunday. They are saying he picked up an infection. He was fully vaccinated and I am completely devastated. I suffer from anxiety and he was my ESA. I don’t know what I am going to do. However, I will get another dog. I have to.

  2. We lost our baby Beau Dec. 14. 2020. We didn’t realize he was sick. We all went to bed that Sunday woke up Monday morning and he was gone. It is so lonely without him. We had him for 12 yrs. He loved sitting on our lap and close to anyone who was sitting on the couch. I said it was to soon to get another one but I look online at places to adopt or buy another one, every day, don’t know when it’s the right Tim’s.

  3. 2 months ago I lost my best friend, Leo. He was a German shepherd and he was only 3 years old. He bit someone, and the teenager needed 4 stitches. It wasn’t a terrible bite, however, we had to make the toughest decision and put him down. It was one of the saddest days of my life, because he was more than a pet to me, he was my friend, my running partner, he was the best part in my life because he would never stop loving me. I think about him everyday. I think about how he loved his glow in the dark rubber ball, how he laid by the air vents when he was hot after a run, I think about how his ears laid flat on his head when he was excited. Nothing can replace him. He wasn’t aggressive, but something bothered him that day. I am still sad about him everyday but I am thinking I want a black lab. I used to think that he was the only dog I would ever have, but now I realize I can’t be happy without a 4 legged friend by my side. When my family is done grieving we will get a black lab and do all the things right for my best friend, my running partner, and my Leo.

    1. I am so sorry for the loss of your boy what a terrible decision to have to make..l had to have my 4 year old whippet put down today,she was off colour Sunday took her to the vets Monday morning where she was transferred to 24 hour care facility,despite all the meds and blood transfusions she started fitting and was clearly dying.My other dog is upset and confused as whippets do bond very closely even though it has only been 8 hours since Ivy died I am making plans for a puppy to help both me and Tarka get through this..however it is important to want a new dog for itself not just to help the remaining one..l will always love my beautiful girl Ivy and she will remain my special girl til the day I die..

  4. We just lost our old guy last week at 13. He was struggling and in pain and we didn’t want him to suffer. He was our first baby before we had kids but we knew this was coming. It was the hardest experience of my life. My husband and I have always had dogs our whole lives and the house just feels so quiet and empty. The kids are missing that companionship (especially with all the crazy going on right now) and at first I was hesitant about getting another dog right away. But something my middle daughter said made me change my mind. She said “we will never forget Patrone and we can never replace him, there will only ever be one Patrone but we have enough room in our hearts to love everyone”. She is so right! That made me move from being so sad to starting to focus on the positive memories and experiences that having a dog has, especially for kids and we made the decision to get a puppy. Some people might say it’s too soon and that’s ok. We know for our family a new puppy with bring some light and positivity into our home. We will never forget Patrone, we will always love and miss him, we just have enough love to give another dog the same awesome life we gave Patrone!

  5. Pingback: How Long Did You Wait to Adopt a New Dog After Your Dog Died? – dogcaz.com

  6. We lost our Molly this morning. I’ve had a rough day but I felt so empty. We had a stray show up and have tried to find his owners so he is not my dog technically yet. We have treated him like one of ours and taken care of him for a few days now while looking for his owners. We have other pets as well. 3 cats (Oliver, Alistair and Eddison) and a chinchilla Gidiget). We had already been looking at a new puppy before Molly got sick from the same family she came from. She was a bigger dog. Anatolian Shepherd and Australian Shepherd mix. 70lbs lap dog who thought she was a little poodle. We had her over a year and she was my baby. I’ve shed many tears today and said I would never have another puppy after her. I was able to love on her, give her kisses and tell her I love her very much. We had her cremated. But I have sat all day and decided I miss having my friend there, I miss petting her and giving her belly rubs and going through her tricks. So I took a step that I feel is good for me. But we have moved forward and gotten two puppies from the family. They are both full blooded Australian Shepherd so they’ll be much smaller then her. One whom I am claiming as my girl looks similar in some ways and so different in others. I’m excited to get to know Piper. Some may say its quick but i’m a caregiver by day and as crushing as losing someone is I’m in love with her. I’m already curious on how she’s going to act, things she loves, treats she likes etc. I have already found her spots she likes scratched, her puppy breath smell and her no tail (she was born without one. My daughter took her sibling and has named her Hazel. She looks much different than her sister and Molly. I’m not replacing Molly because she’ll always be my baby girl and have a special place in my heart. She opened me up to loving dogs. I’m giving love to a new puppy who I will love and watch grow. Not replacing but adding to our family as they’ll meet at the rainbow bridge one day and they’ll both know how much I loved them.

  7. I lost my best friend just yesterday and I am so lost I feel like I need someone to love….. I am a stay at home mom of 4 and the baby graduated this past Friday…. I find myself thinking about looking for a new dog and my heart hurts so bad but I don’t want to be alone… I think everyone will think it is too soon but I don’t want to be in my house without her and I think a puppy would be good for me……

    1. maria jasminoy

      We lost our dog, Louie, yesterday. My children were devastated and our youngest asked if he could please get a dog for his birthday (June 22). I started browsing through rescue groups and when reading the descriptions, I realized how similar their stories were to Louie’s. That made me think that I should move forward because I could help a dog get in a better situation. My husband found a dog that needed rehoming on Craigslist. We went to meet him and brought him home with us. He doesn’t replace louie, we miss him deeply but he is helping my son cheer up.

    2. We are in the same boat. We had to say goodbye just yesterdat and it was fairly sudden. I loved our dog dearly and miss her desperately but I cannot stand the house feeling so empty without her and I do want another already.

  8. We lost our chihuahua 6 years ago!He was loved by us so much.We have just got another one the same breed but different colour.So can someone please tell me why all the feelings of grief and guilt have come flooding back after all this time. I love my new dog and hate feeling like I am betraying my old one.

  9. I came here for guidance about the death of a dog and getting another. To access the content I had to dismiss a dialog by clicking “No thanks, I don’t want to understand my pet”. That’s sleazy and manipulative. Maybe a more honest option would be “No thanks, I’ve better things to do than be insulted so you can spam me, show me a better site that respects its users”.

  10. I had to have my jack Russell cleo put to sleep 5 weeks ago and she was 19 she had heart failure and was very tired she saw me through cancer and a lot of other awful times in my life I’m so lost without her but will get another jack Russell as they are the quirkiest intelligent dogs and she was so special my own little Florence nightingale I don’t know when I will get another dog but they bring so much joy into your life

  11. We had to have our (almost) 14 year old Black Lab (Nikki) put down March 8. So it’s only been 4 days. I was thinking about Volunteering at the local no-kill shelter just to be around dogs. Nikki’s Aunt Kace died 3 1/2 years ago. We bought our house in 2003 and this house has always had a dog…or two. Nikki helped me through Kace’s death. Now there is just emptiness. My daughter-in-laws boss has a 2 year old Plott hound (I never heard of the breed) that has separation anxiety and would like to find her a home where someone is home most of the time. My husband and I are both retired. I am apprehensive about taking on a dog so soon. And apprehensive about taking on a dog with separation anxiety. I don’t know what to do.

  12. I my dog had to be put down yesterday unexpectedly. His name was Joey but I called him jojo. He was the sweetest dog you could ever meet. He was never ever aggressive. He always was such a sweetie. I don’t know how to live without him. I feel so empty. I don’t know when I’ll be able to get another dog because I can only think about him right now. I know it will take me some months. I can’t see myself getting another dog until after August and even that seems a little earlier.

    1. We lost our girl on the 2nd. I’ve never been in this house more than a couple hours without her. I found it hard to breathe. Now I don’t care if I go home, because she’s not there. I feel your pain. I looked at a dog for adoption yesterday and felt guilty. But I am going to meet her. Just take one day at a time. Eventually you learn to smile at the memories.

  13. I lost 2 beloved Borzoi, each very suddenly, 3 months apart. Although I still have 2 medium size dogs at home being without one of my big boys has been very painful and I went looking at another dog only a week after I lost my last one. I won’t be getting him for 2 months but it makes me feel better knowing that I won’t be without a big dog in my home. I’ll always miss the dogs I lost but bringing a new dog into my home won’t replace my lost loves, it’ll fill a void but not replace. I will never be someone who closes my heart. I need a break g dog in my heart and my home.

  14. This article brought me comfort with my struggle I have been having with my loss. I lost my terrier mix Willow very unexpectedly Christmas day. I have been so lonely without her as she slept right by my side every night and was the best little cuddle bug! I have felt like a crazy person for wanting a dog so soon but the feeling of being without a dog for comfort is unbearable at times. Thank you for writing this well spoken article! It has helped me to not feel alone in my thinking and most importantly that it is okay to want to ease that pain with a new friend without replacing our lost friend.

    1. I ran across your reply as I have been searching for some kind of comfort after loosing my best friend this week. Just want you to know that you spoke to my heart. I also want to get a new dog not to replace my dear friend but to ease the pain and fill a void. Also, I live in Ohio where the weather will be getting brutal soon and training will be much harder if I wait. Anyhow, hope your heart is better and thank you, Anna

  15. I am so glad I found this article. I lost my 18 year old toy poodle six months ago who I dearly loved. We decided, just recently to get a labradoodle puppy who we pick up from the breeder next week. I have been feeling nervous, teary and a complete mess. Reading your article and comments from others has helped me a lot to understand what I’m feeling is normal. So….. instead of feeling nervous I’m going to only let positivity into my mind. So a very heartfelt thank you to all…….. I truly needed these pearls of wisdom.

  16. Thank you for this article.
    Just over a month ago, I lost my first dog – he was a 6-year-old rescue poodle/shih tzu mix named Henry. We only had him for 5 months, and he died very tragically and unexpectedly from complications from a dental procedure. I was, and still am, heartbroken and devastated over the loss. I know I can’t replace him, and I don’t want to. And for a while I was even thinking I may never get another dog for fear of anything happening to him or her much too soon, just like Henry. But I miss having a dog around. I work from home and it was so much less lonely. I’ve been looking at dogs, and I’ve seen a couple now that I’m interested in adopting. Reading this makes me feel less guilty about looking to adopt another dog.

  17. My best friend was put down today. He was a 4 year old Yorkie and suffered from many complications because of an accident. A couple of weeks before he got into his accident, he got one of my friends’ dogs pregnant. This has got me in a spiral of emotions and questions. The puppies will be born soon and I’m obviously exploring the idea of adopting one of the puppies. But I’m still unsure. They’re the only puppies that my dog will ever father and they’re his own flesh and blood. But I’m scared that if I adopt one, I will resent it. I don’t feel anger at my dogs death, mostly because he was crazy and I always knew in the back of my head that he would get himself into trouble somehow someday. But I also know I will be lonely without a dog and I do not want a stranger dog if there’s puppies that are a piece of my best friend available. Could you give me your opinion on this crazy situation?

  18. Jaimie–I am so happy that this article helped you find some sort of meaning after your loss. I agree that it’s not about replacing your Jade, but opening your heart to another. There is nothing like the love of a dog.

  19. I’ve enjoyed reading this article. I lost my beloved dog a week ago I know I’m not ready at this moment but I know soon I will be. Not to replace Jade but because my home is quiet and empty and I’ve always had animals and I love them so much. I’d love nothing more than to open my heart and home to a rescue. Thank you for your insight and your families story. It helped me tremendously with the internal struggle I have about “Is it too soon?” “Am I ready?”

    1. A.Nicholas Scala

      I Just Lost SNEEKS, today. my Little buddy. He was stricken with old age at 11 years 14 days. a 115 Yellow Lab Male. The best thing ever to happen to me. I am as sad as You!
      Yes…Gotta keep our chins up and to remember how good they really were.
      NY Nicky….

      1. I just lost my beloved Bruno 11 yrs old. He had cancer and I refused to let him suffer. It’s so hard and I cry everyday, I cannot even saynhis name. I will get a rescue dog and give him all of our love. Very lonely in the house. Glad this is here to share with others. It has been 2 weeks. But I am not ready to adopt yet

    2. I also lost my dog a week ago. Feb 29th… and I’ve been heartbroken ever since. I’ve been looking at new puppies because i miss having a dog excited to see me when i came home. My bf and mom don’t think right now is a good time, maybe for my birthday I’ll be ready ( sept 1) sorry about your puppy also. Hopefully they’ve made friends in doggie heaven ❤️

    3. I lost my dog a week ago. Feb 29th… and I’ve been heartbroken ever since. I’ve been looking at new puppies because i miss having a dog excited to see me when i came home. My bf and mom don’t think right now is a good time, maybe for my birthday I’ll be ready ( sept 1) sorry about your puppy also. Hopefully they’ve made friends in doggie heaven ❤️

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