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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So, I realize this is an intensely personal question and only my husband and myself can make the best decision we can for us, but I could really use some advice or stories or anything helpful regarding adopting a new dog after yours dies.

Sebastian, the dog my husband and I adopted when we first moved in together, died on January 3rd, just a few months after my family dog from childhood died as well. Obviously, it's been a lot of loss in a short period of time. I have not lived in a house without a dog since I was 13 and I will be 30 next year. I hate being in a house without a dog even more than I thought I would (and it is a "house" without a dog, not a "home"). I hate it so much. I am so lonely without both of them. Further, I have serious and chronic health problems of my own... neither Bailey nor Sebastian were service animals, but I did not realize how much my health relied on them until they were gone. Or maybe the stress of their passing has thrown my system out of whack, which is also entirely possible.

Basically, I feel like I'm ready to start looking for our next family member. The idea that a new dog could in any way replace Bailey or Sebastian is absolutely unthinkable to me, so believe me that is not what this is. Or, that's certainly not what we want it to be, but I am also well aware that my husband and I are still very early in the grieving process for Sebastian and that we need to be cautious in our decision making. I think we are, though. We are keeping the lines of communication open with each other and when we browsed on Petfinder we sent an enquiry about ONE dog that looked like he'd fit our lives... not 100 questions about 100 animals that who knows if they'd work for us.

Anyway, I guess I'm just looking for stories about when you adopted after losing another pet. Did you do so quickly? Did it take years? Have you reached your last dog? I would also be extremely curious to hear from those who have fallen in love with specific breeds. Sebastian was Pyr mix and we are hoping for another mix or full bred Pyr, but want to be congnisant about not comparing him to Sebastian. At the same time, we know lots of people who will get the same breed over and over again. Bailey was my first dog from childhood and Sebastian was my first dog I adopted myself as an adult so this is the "first second dog" for everyone and we are all feeling a bit lost about it.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, while recognizing (again) that no one else can make this decision for us.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Spent 25 years in GSD's had the best group of the breed I could of ever been blessed with. The last years were a continuous loss(s) as they were all close in age. I chose a different breed as the shoes to fill would be impossible in my heart. Still deeply grieving I couldn't look into the eyes of another GSD and maybe I never will in this life time. That was the right decision for me to keep it seperate and allow grieving and healing.

Am very sorry for your loss, and when you feel ready and truly come across the right individual that you connect, it usually is the right time for you with the right individual.
 

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Like you acknowledged, I think it's very personal. Every person/family grieves differently, and that effects when they get a new dog/if they will get a new dog. I have never been in your exact situation, as we have always had multiple dogs.I got my first dog as an adult 3 years ago, and luckily haven't been put into the position to have to consider this topic much. I've always said that if not for the other dogs, I probably would never get another dog after one passes. Having the other dogs is probably the only thing that helps me through that grieving process. Realistically, it would probably be a few years before I could get another dog. However, growing up, my parents always got a new puppy remarkably fast (like, days). When I was young I was fine with it, as I got older, I would have preferred to wait a while. That said, I know of other people who get a new dog as quickly as possible to help with the grieving process.

My girlfriend's mother lost her heart dog Elmer, a pitbull, in early 2017. They adopted a pitbull who looks very similar to Elmer in late 2017. Ever since, her mother has been frustrated and disappointed with the new dog for not behaving like Elmer did, not having his quirks, not being an old-reliable good dog, etc. It's sad, and luckily my girlfriend is there to love the dog, because her mother doesn't. I think for her, it was too soon and a bad idea to get a dog of the same breed, especially one who looks so similar to the dog who passed.

I think as long as you can make the disconnect that just because a dog resembles your old dog does not mean its personality will be anything like your old dog, getting one of the same breed or similar mix would be fine.

You may also consider fostering - that way you have a dog around, are helping out an animal in need, and when you are ready for a dog of your own again you can adopt.
 

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First I'm sorry for your loss :(

Second, obviously you're the only one who knows when you will be ready, but I couldn't imagine not having a pet, but in my case, every time one of our pets died, we had at least another one left... so I can't really remember never having a pet (we got another kitten both times when one of my childhood cats died, and I got a kitten as soon as I got my own apartment - she's almost 18 now and has moved 4 times with me).

I see all pets differently though - even dogs of the same breed will not be the same. It doesn't mean that you won't love them any less (even when they are a pain in the ass!). About breed decision.. two of mine are mutts, I didn't have a clue what I was getting expect cute fluffy puppies. The last one is a Newfoundland because I've loved them since I was a kid - I realized after that he's not a very well bred one, but his temperament is nicer than some well bred newfs I've met... so you never really know. I can't tell you what my next dog will be - we do have two old pets now, but we'll still have the two young dogs when they're gone, so it will be a few years at least before I get another one. I'm thinking of getting a well bred Newf pup this time, but the process has been extremely frustrating every time I've tried, and I might just end up with another mutt puppy anyway... who knows. But I will probably always have at least two dogs (I'm done with cats because I'm just too allergic to them sadly).

Good luck.
 

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I don't think there is a right or wrong here. I won't ever forget an older woman who came into our shelter the week she lost her small dog. We happened to have a small dog of similar breed. She immediately adopted him and named him after her deceased dog. I think she quite literally "replaced" her lost dog with this new one. But there was no harm in it and for that woman, it was the right decision.

Any guilt you might feel from looking at other dogs, sending in applications, etc. are your own. No one is judging you, and as you mentioned it is a deeply personal decision.

My story is, I intentionally got a puppy when Soro was 11 years old. Still healthy enough, but slowing down for sure. I wanted a 'project' and I wanted to have a dog who could be outside with me when Soro couldn't anymore. I know that there was the possibility that things didn't pan out exactly as I wanted. But for me, it did. It did not make Sor's death any easier. But having Brae helped me keep my day to day structure (going outside, engaging with a dog, eating, etc.) even when it felt like my world was collapsing. Personally, I find new dogs and puppies to be stressful. Joyous, but stressful. Like who is this dog? what work do I need to put in? I could not see myself go through the stress of discovering a new dog while experiencing grief. It helped that I was able to raise Brae when Sor was okay. The inevitable comparing of dogs, shift in routines, training, and ultimately being comfortable with BOTH dogs in my life... All happened when things were good. I needed it to be that way. However, I cannot see myself without a dog. So as it is with most things in life I think there could have been many agreeable outcomes.

Best of luck to you on your journey.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks to everyone who has responded so far, this is extremely helpful and exactly what I was hoping for. Thank you. A couple of things...

I forgot to mention that even though Sebastian had a lot of health concerns throughout his life, we had been hoping to get a second dog at some point in the not-too-distant future. That became less realistic and then impossible as Sebastian (very quickly) went downhill, but for a long time, we had very much planned to have two. Based on talking with husband I'm pretty certain we would not/could not adopt a bonded pair or anything at this juncture, but when I used to think about what our lives would be like around this time, it was with two dogs. So to have zero dogs instead of two, or even one had we adopted again while Sebastian was still alive is just... not what I expected. That's life, of course, but it's just more background info.

Patricia, thank you for sharing and I definitely understand how that would be devastating. I'm not sure if I'd be able to adopt another of the same breed if I had been in your shoes, either. What you say about the right individual at the right time is pretty much how we both feel about it, too. The dog we enquired about recently was the only one we looked at that gave me the same feeling I had when I looked at Sebastian (and a number of other dogs I was confident were a good fit but ended up with other families) and I know husband really liked him too, so that's why we messaged, and we both think that if it really works out that we'll get to meet him, we'll just follow our guts. If it doesn't work out, then nothing was lost and there isn't any pressure. We've also both agreed that if one of us feels ready and the other doesn't, that's basically a trump card. No dog yet in that case, though we do tend to be pretty in-sync on this kind of stuff.

Sydney, I recognize a lot in your reply. I really appreciate you taking the time. I so wanted another dog while Sebastian was still with us for so many reasons, and Sebastian was a great comfort after Bailey died. The story in your post about Elmer is the precise thing we want to be very, very mindful of. I hope that just being aware of that is a step in the right direction, and the truth is we're not married to a particular breed. Sebastian just brought us so much joy, but we both really want to make sure that if we adopt another Pyrenees that we love and appreciate him or her for the dog s/he is and not as a stand-in for Sebastian. I don't really know how to be 100% certain of this point in time, but I think and hope that being aware of that is a good thing and that when we go for a meeting with any potential adoptee, we will feel if it will just be too hard to separate. If you have any other tips for not letting this happen, I'm all ears. We have definitely thought about fostering but it might be difficult right now since we rent and we're not sure how our landlord would feel about a more rotating cast of dogs versus one we were adopting. Sebastian was epileptic and we are also looking into any "forever foster" programs in the area, which I'm not that familiar with but I guess typically pay expenses for an older or infirm dog to have a home when they might not have otherwise been adopted. We'd love to do it and have experience with certain things that might come up in those dogs (mostly the epilepsy, senior dogs from helping to take care of Bailey, and mobility issues as Sebastian had a lot of back leg problems during his last 7 months), but not sure yet if there are any in the area.

Francl, thank you. And yes, I feel the same. I just so intensely dislike being without any pets right now, and indeed I have spent MUCH less time in my life having no pets at all than the time I have had pets, if we're including fish and hampsters, too. But even Bailey we got when I was 13; it's been more than half my life. Logically, this is how I see all pets too, and husband has been around more dogs and cats than me-- he grew up on a farm. They are all different and they all have their own personalities. Just like any family member who dies, you can't replace them, but many people do add to their families again after losses. We are no less Sebastian's dads now than a month ago, and any new dog we adopt would be a new family member with his or her own unique traits. We just had such a strong and special bond with Sebastian that I want to make sure we are able to put into practice what we believe in theory, but I mostly feel that we can and that we will just have to try and insist on a meeting before adoption if possible so we have a sense at that time. Thanks for sharing your story and as an aside, I love Newfoundlands, too. Someday I very much hope to have one myself!

Canyx, it's interesting to hear a situation where something like that was more of a positive. Not that we're endeavoring to do it ourselves, but I'm sure I'd never have forgotten that, either. So far, I haven't felt too guilty just browsing without high takes... I don't think husband has, either. We had no choice with poor Sebastian, at least on the point of his dying. It's more a desire not to put unfair pressure on a new dog to live up to the dog Sebastian was, but at the same time we so much don't want to do that, I might be making myself crazy about the likelihood of it happening. Your story with Soro and Brae is basically what happened with Sebastian and Bailey, too. Bailey was 10 when we adopted Sebastian as a puppy, and he lived with Bailey his first two years, just the way things worked out (I was there, too). It did wonders for Bailey, and Sebastian did wonders for me when Bailey passed in October. The intention was always to adopt another dog, both for us and for Sebastian to have company... earlier than we did with Bailey because of Sebastian's epilepsy. We just never got a chance to before he died :( I was so sorry to hear about Soro. Thank you for your reply.

All the replies have basically confirmed what I think we are both feeling right now, and as I said we did have a long talk to get on the same page. There's no pressure right now but there's nothing stopping us if we really come across the right dog sooner than later. There's no harm in looking and there's no real harm in waiting, but we both detest not being a pet owner right now and both want to give another dog a loving home. I think we will know when we really find the dog that we should adopt, and if it happens to be sooner than later, I hope a new dog will help us grieve some though we have no expectations on that either. Just really want another dog to love and to help; having pets has always given the two of us so much happiness, as it does with so many people.
 

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Today is my three labs birthday, Max I (deceased), Max II (deceased) and Sami, our present rescue. Max I was our first lab, 28 years ago. When we lost Max I at the age of almost 12 years old, we were devastated and waited a year before we rescued another lab. The day we rescued Max II was the day I stopped crying over Max I. Max II was a stray on the streets of NC with two bad hips. We rescued him, fixed both hips and he was the love of my life. We lost Max II three years ago this past November at the age of almost 13; he died from cancer. We said we were not going to get another pup, at least not right away. Two months later we rescued our Sami, a yellow lab (think mixed with Beagle). He is approximately five years old. We missed Max II so much and still do, and Sami just didn't compare to him and is not as affectionate. It was harder for my husband to warm up to him, but now three years later, Sami is our third love and we know he loves us. So, for me, I am glad we rescued right away; it does help the hurt. Everyone needs to follow their own heart, but if you are going to rescue, just think about that pup out there waiting for a wonderful home, which I am sure you will give him or her. Good luck!
 

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I told you my experience, but it won't hurt to repeat. When my Dobie/GSD died at 17yo, we adopted a Lab/GSD puppy within the next month. After he died at 16yo, we adopted a 1.5yo Lab/GSD. With all three dogs, as well as previous dogs, we did make comparisons to previous dogs, and did 'grieve' for about a year or less. And, it seemed to take about 3 months to build a 'bond' with the dog.

One of the 'conveniences' of a puppy is that we didn't have to untrain bad habits and fears. In contrast, with an adopted adult, we didn't have to potty train, and general training was much faster than with a puppy. Personally, I think a puppy is easier to deal with once you accept the messiness.

One reason that I like to adopt as soon as possible is because a dog fills a gap. He doesn't replace other dogs, b/c he fills the gap in a distinct way for each dog. Getting used to a dog helped us to speed through the grieving process. There was still grief but there was also a dog to support the grief. And, there was 'down time' to 'wallow' in the grief, especially when you have a 'puppy' licking you in the face.

I don't think it matters if you get a Pomeranian or a Pyrenees, you will still make comparisons. In my case, in 3 months to a year, the comparisons no longer mattered ... b/c we bonded to the current dog.

On the flip side, I unintentionally lost 5 pounds by walking the new dog. In the last 5 years of the older dog, he didn't walk so much as hobbled. The current dog walks with a loose leash, but he needs at least 2 miles a day as a baseline of exercise. I probably run him an additional mile or two, and I'm in better shape than I was 20 years ago.

So I recommend doing the needed research and not waiting ... except to get the dog that you want. I'd also suggest a healthy dog for now, and after a year of 'training' him, you might consider a second dog that needs a little more help, if you're still interested.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
One reason that I like to adopt as soon as possible is because a dog fills a gap. He doesn't replace other dogs, b/c he fills the gap in a distinct way for each dog. Getting used to a dog helped us to speed through the grieving process. There was still grief but there was also a dog to support the grief. And, there was 'down time' to 'wallow' in the grief, especially when you have a 'puppy' licking you in the face.
Thank you, hanks. It's funny you say this, because we were really just having the exact same conversation today when talking about the adoption in general. Our time was so structured around Sebastian that it is completely unsurprising that he has left such a gaping void. As you say, a new dog is a not a replacement, but instead helps to fill some of that gap in our lives, gives us another living creature to give our attention to, and will undoubtedly be a comfort in our grief. I am sure you are right that comparisons will be unavoidable. I didn't mean to make it sound like we wouldn't make them or even necessarily purposely avoid them, only that we want to be sure to appreciate another dog for who s/he is and not just for how much s/he does or does not remind us of Sebastian.

All that said.... we are generally not looking for two at once but each had a total love-at-first-sight moment with a bonded pair of small Pyrenees mixes, one male and one female. As of right now the likelihood of someone else getting them before us is very, very high, but our application is in. They are definitely the dogs we are aiming for as of this moment in time, but if someone else adopts them, I do not think we would otherwise look for a bonded pair and our second and third preferences are single dogs. The pair was just screaming our names, though; they sound absolutely perfect but for the fact we are trying to figure out the expenses and whether or not we could do two. I think we can, and they are easily our first choice but there are many wonderful dogs who need a home and we'll see what happens. :) Gosh, they look amazing, though.

Tomorrow is two weeks since Sebastian's passing and I really am starting to feel a little better. The grief comes in waves but I am really feeling the appreciation for the time we had together. We also were able to get his remains back today and it gave me some comfort having him "back at home." I will miss him for the rest of my life but the sad reality is that I can no longer actively help him, only honor him and think of him, and there are more dogs we can help now. But I'm thinking of him often.

100% agreed that our goal is for a healthy dog this time if at all possible, as much as I would never have given up the chance to be Sebastian's dad even if I had known what his life would be like. If the pair falls through we are aiming for a bit older than puppy right now largely out of concern for potential health issues down the road. Not impossible with an older dog by any stretch but for example we adopted Sebastian at 16 weeks and the epilepsy started right around two years old, which is closer to the age the pair is at now too... we will also be insuring if at all possible.

Parker, thank you for sharing. Those are all beautiful pictures! I am honestly glad we are starting the process now, too. I am hoping everything will be set within a couple of weeks, and I know husband is finally getting excited, too.
 

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Keep us posted, definitely.

I do agree with what was said above too... heck I really can't have another dog right now but I keep seeing so many dogs that need homes and it's killing me. I KNOW that I'll just end up rescuing a dog again at some point.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I will definitely keep you all posted! Not getting our hopes up too much yet until we see what's really going on, but the pair of Pyrenees just looks too good. They were rescued from a hoarding situation. They're our first choice and if someone doesn't snatch them up first, we'll be taking them home. We'll see. Clearly we won't be the only people interested in them, but they've been up online for a little while and aren't pending or adopted just yet. So, fingers crossed. If it doesn't work out there are, of course, many dogs in need. The right dog for us is the one we end up with... but I sure hope we end up with these two. There are a couple other wonderful looking dogs from the same rescue now, though, and more all the time. It will all work out one way or the other, but here's to hoping for the bonded pair.

Thank you all again.
 

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I'm sorry for your losses. I haven't had to go through this yet with any of my own dogs thankfully - they are both still fairly young (6 & 4). My husband is adamant that he will not get another dog ever once Pepper & Kane are gone (he's especially bonded to Kane). I can understand that, but I can see us possibly getting another dog once the grieving has lessened (maybe a couple of years later). However, Kane (the younger of the two) is very close with Pepper and he also has separation anxiety. Assuming Pepper passes first I don't think Kane will handle it well. We may end up making the decision to get another dog at that point, to help him out as well as us. We'll just have to make those decisions when the time comes.

Don't feel guilty about looking for another dog already. Everyone is different and there is no right or wrong in this situation :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Thank you, Jen!

We certainly didn't think we'd be going through this with Sebastian at 5 1/2, although sadly I think we both knew it was unlikely he would live to be very old given his health struggles. We both hoped he would and we tried so hard, and I don't think either of us ever really thought he'd die so young, but here we are.

My dad was like your husband with Bailey, before Bailey died. Dad couldn't possibly imagine getting another dog and always said Bailey would be our one and only. Now that Bailey is gone, dad's really missing him and I think they'll get another, eventually. Case in point, though, it has been 3.5 months and they haven't even begun to look, which is the right choice for them. For you, as noted, you'll have the added factor of having to see how the remaining doggo is doing when the other's time comes. His need for a buddy may outweigh the feelings your husband is having now. One step at a time though, just like you said.

I didn't think I'd feel ready so soon but I'm trying not to feel guilty about it. Given Sebastian's relatively young age and how quickly things happened, we very much did not expect to be without a dog in our lives right now. Even towards the end, when we first learned he was terminal, we had really hoped he would still be around now, probably nearing the end, but of course that's not what happened. I think that is part of it, but whatever the reason, I'm trying not to beat myself up for my desire to add to our family. I said this in my last post but what I can do for Sebastian now is to think of him fondly, keep him in my heart, and ultimately give another dog or dogs a home. Sebastian LOVED other dogs (so much more than he liked most people!) and if he had his way, I think we would have had a herd. I keep reminding myself as we are looking.

Please everyone keep your fingers crossed that things work out with the pair...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I don't want to jinx it but we have at least received a preliminary e-mail confirming our application for the bonded pair is in and they are not gone yet. One step closer...
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Just had a very good phone call with the adoption coordinator for the bonded pair. If everything goes smoothly, it sounds like we are it, pending a home visit. They did not have a ton of applications for two adult dogs and the shelter themselves disqualified everyone but us for now. It will still take a few weeks, and that's just fine, and we are going to ask their foster mother to do a meeting before a final decision is made. It doesn't really sound like they ever say no to a request to meet. One of the benefits is the fact that they are close enough to do that.

Now that we have had a good call, I'm feeling a tad less superstitious about it: their names are Bear and Sally, and I'm not sure I can bear to change them, as they BOTH share a first initial with each of my late dogs-- Bailey and Sebastian.

If everything goes as well as possible, a little less than three weeks and they'll be home.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thank you! We are getting excited now, although there is guilt too. As Canyx said, it is our own, and it's not enough to stop us because it's not really real. There's no reason to feel guilty. If anything-- not to toot our own horns-- I think we should feel proud we are able to consider giving two dogs in need a home quite so soon. There isn't exactly an off-switch for the guilty feeling, though, although I'm sure as we move forward it will lessen.

Really I think most of the emotional discomfort is from being in a bit of a weird limbo. We know the rescue likes us, we know right now we're preferred, but the pooches are not ours yet. I wonder if some of my own trepidation is not wanting to get fully invested in getting these two until we KNOW we will be taking them home. It's hard to identify everything I'm feeling, but mostly I feel like I want to adopt those dogs who I'm so sure we can help.

The home visit was a bit of a surprise which isn't a PROBLEM, our home is fine, but we both feel anxious about all the tidying we have to do. It's not fit for a dog right this second because there's no dog here, but it will probably be less work than it seems. Better to clean a large apartment than a large house...

I put him a whole spray of photos of Sebastian on the wall in our room and that has helped us both to feel a little better, being able to look at his face whenever we want. I still miss him terribly and always will, but mostly I am grateful for what time we had together. He was such a good boy.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I'm keeping this thread fully updated for myself as much as anyone else, as I was very grateful to have a detailed record of Bailey's last few years with us, and it is already fun to see where we were in the adoption process a week ago versus today.

We are very busy tidying as we have finally gotten actual confirmation for the home visit. I have to take a trip to NJ (from Maine) next weekend and we will pass through Massachusetts both ways, where Bear and Sally's foster home is, so we are hoping to meet them on the way back up. If we are recommended to adopt them, should be all set for the 9th...

I am still anxious about the home visit but feeling better already as we make progress.

Also had a good talk with another rescue we were looking at so if these two fall through, there's another very sweet looking pup who has our names all over him. But so far so good, and we are both very much starting to see the possibility of being the proud owners of two beautiful Pyr mixes in just a bit more than two weeks time. Fingers and toes crossed.
 
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