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How To Open Your Heart To A New Pet After A Loss

Updated: May 31, 2021

I am sitting outside with the sun shining, the birds are singing, and my best friend is right beside me. Specifically, I am sitting right next to his grave. I like to come out here on pleasant afternoons and talk to him while I work. I lost my dog, and best friend of 15 years, Hayworth, about six months ago to heart failure and I still struggle with missing him. While I am sure I will always miss him, I want to eventually have another dog in my life. A best friend to cuddle with, go on hikes with, and watch movies with.

So how do you move on? Or at least be open to sharing your heart again with another fur-covered best friend? To be honest, I have not completely mastered it yet. I get the feel as if I’d be cheating on Hayworth if I adopted another dog. Yet, I know I need to try not just for myself, but for my future best friend. Here are some ideas that have helped me on my journey.

1. Give yourself time to grieve. You do not have to rush into getting another pet if it does not feel right yet. Allow yourself time to process the loss and remember all the wonderful times you had with your furry friend. Perhaps get a tattoo in remembrance of your pet, write them a letter, have a gravestone made, or talk about your favorite memories with your family and friends.

2. Spend time with other animals. Whether it is spending time with a friend or family member's pet, being around animals can remind you about all the wonderful things that a pet brings into your life. Even better, volunteer at a local animal shelter to give the animals all the love and attention they badly need. If you are lucky, you may meet your new fluffy friend there.

3. Remember what you love about having a pet. Personally, I love having a friend that is always there for me and loves me no matter what. Who doesn't love having a personal door greeter and cuddle buddy?

4. Research which breed is best for you and your family. Make a list of potential qualities you would like your future pet to have. If you like hiking, maybe get a working dog. If you just want to cuddle with your kitty, try three rag doll breed. This will get you thinking seriously about your future with your new pet.

5. Prepare your house for a pet. This may seem obvious, but getting the pet bed, toys, and bowls ready for your new family member gets you in the right frame of mind. It can be challenging and sad if you are using supplies from your previous pet, but it can also be comforting knowing that your pet's toys (bed or bowls) are being used again by another animal that will love them.

6. Remember, another pet needs a house with love. Though it can be hard to open yourself up to another pet, remember that are lots of animals out there that are in need of adoption, a home, attention, and love. When you do bring your new friend home, give yourself and the pet time to adjust to one another. It can take months before your new pet feels comfortable, so be patient. In addition, try not to compare your new pet to your old pet. Though your previous pet was wonderful, so is the new one! Each animal has its own unique personality that should be appreciated for what they are.

If you are still struggling with the loss of a pet, reach out at for more information.

Wendy Morgan, Owner of Hayworth's

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