There is no comfort when your pet dies, especially when the dog has been in the family for years but read this by AKC judge and fill your heart with another pet.
EMPTY ARM SYNDROME - WHEN YOU’VE LOST A DOG
E. Katie Gammill, Exhibition Editor/AKC Judge
Life takes a sharp turn. There are no more quiet walks, afternoon naps, or canine supervision. Your long time companion is gone and you are left hanging between memories and grief. Most, of us are blindsided by the loss of a pet. This is especially devastating for children and older persons when a dog has been a family for years. Is another dog the answer?
They say dogs learn life’s lessons quicker than humans so their time on earth is shorter. Think about that. They fill the cracks in our lives with love, devotion, hope and excitement. Some people vow they will never have another dog, but emotions have a way of influencing the most determined mind set.
Do not fall prey to the empty arms syndrome. And do advise your friends that you will personally select your own pet when you are ready for a new companion. Bereavement time varies with each individual. As we age, our ability to care for a larger dog comes into question and we may need to consider a smaller pet. Perhaps we desire another dog of a different breed, temperament, or one that requires less grooming. Perhaps our facilities have changed.
Perhaps we don’t realize we have aged along with our pet. Do we have the patience or the ability to cope with the size and antics that at one time brought so much joy? Perhaps a toy dog would better fit your life style now. They are great lap companions and through unseen circumstances, can find themselves alone. They too have depression and separation anxieties. Be prepared to pay a fee for the adopted dog. Be aware mixed breeds are NOT necessarily healthier than pure bred dogs. Health records are simply not documented.
People are bombarded with “adoption” commercials. Before emotions take over, consider the following. Shelter dogs may be there because they did NOT fit into a current family or environment. Temperaments of mixed breeds may be diverse. What they appear to be may not be what dwells in another dog’s brain. Abused dogs require special attention and may have hidden anxieties. Be prepared to suffer an adjustment period. Secure fencing is mandatory. IF you choose to adopt a dog and it doesn’t fit into your lifestyle, take it back to the shelter and have them re-home the dog. That is what they do best. Another environment could make all the difference to the dog. Do not feel compelled to keep any animal that does not have a positive influence on your home and family.
Owning a pet requires your full attention. It’s a fact that as we age, we often become unsteady. Dogs tend to sit and lie at our feet. Ask yourself, what size dog best fits your need. Choose wisely as crates are often used to carry pets to the vet and groomer. You might consider an older dog or a retired Champion from a show home as most are well trained. Contact reputable breeders regarding this. Remember, cute puppies grow up and anything left on the floor is “fair game.” Antics that were charming at one age may become a burden as you age.
Again, it is imperative that your friends and family understand they are NOT to buy another dog for you. If they do, ask them to return it, you are under no obligation to keep it. There is “nurture and nature” and both are involved when choosing your next pet. Do your homework as genetics cannot be denied. Most important, don’t be in a hurry. Allow yourself time to heal. Consider buying the opposite sex to what you had when you look for a new pet. Males and females have different temperaments. Change the coat color, welcome a different breed. NEVER expect the new dog to be like your last dog. This results in failure. Your old friend was your “heart dog”. Give the new dog time to show you how important it can become in his or her own way. This new pet becomes a part of your family and should bring joy to your home. Make provisions for your pet in case you become sick and can’t care for it.
A new puppy needs means socialization and exposure. Lead training, potty training, and manners are involved. Do you have the patience, the physical ability, or the time in your life? If you have another dog in your home, the puppy will follow its behavior. Therefore, if this dog is acceptable in its habits, that is a plus. There is a big “BUT”. If your older dog does NOT have good habits, there is a possibility your new dog will adopt its behavior.
Contact a reputable kennel if you might be interested in a retired Champion or senior dog. Most breeders will work with you. These dogs are socialized and will easily slide into the golden years with you. This could be a win-win opportunity. They receive more affection and you will have a well mannered individual.
Ask yourself, will second dog make your life better? Be willing to discuss facilities and purpose for wanting another pet. Do you have someone to care for the dog if you leave? Do you have a dog park or exercise area? Problems are avoided by addressing these issues before you buy the dog.
The “empty arm syndrome” can cause people to “snatch and grab”. Choices are ruled by emotions and the heart, not by careful thought of issues involved. Another dog should make our life better, not worse. Review your neighbor situation. Be aware of small children in the surrounding area. Realize your physical health may have changed and adjust accordingly.
How often do we hear “I’ll never get another dog? It hurts too much to lose them”. Your dog would want you to allow another soft, furry creature with soulful eyes and a wagging tail into your life. Bereavement takes time but when you are ready then welcome the newcomer for what it is. If you had two dogs and one passes, your other pet may also go through depression at the loss, so a new dog may perk it up and give it a few more years.
If you own another dog, do NOT take it when you pick up the new friend. If you adopt a shelter dog, do NOT return it to the shelter for a visit as it renews bad memories. This can impede your progress of initiating the new dog into your home.
The new dog should be introduced to your older pet slowly from a crate. Walk them side by side, and watch the interactions of the breeds carefully as personalities vary. Expectations should be different if you chose a new breed. Allow time for things to come together and they will become best buddies.
Honor the memory of your past pet by welcoming the companionship of another dog. Dogs give us a positive outlook and tend to soften the world around us. They keep our secrets and comfort us in times of sadness. Finding another companion is a two way street to happiness. Move forward and fill your empty arms with the love and loyalty only a dog can give.