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“Mom Can We Keep Him?” (Pet Loss Part 3 Adopting a new pet )

When is the right time to chose a new forever friend?

It all depends on the individual or family. For my mother, never. After her cat crossed over, my mother grieved for the loss of her cat for over a year. I remember giving her the white calico cat for a Mother’s Day present when I came to visit her in Florida. She loved the cat unconditionally. This was not the first cat our family had ever owned. I grew up with cats. But this cat was different. My mother’s daughter’s were grown and had started their lives. When she picked up the cat she named it. “Baby Baby.” Then when I called my mother she had renamed the cat “Beauty.” Each time I called my mother the cat had a new name. When her cat got sick and crossed over Rainbow Bridge my mother was devastated. The connection between them was more than a pet and an owner. Baby Baby was her friend, companion and the love of her life. She never adopted another pet after Baby Baby.

Tip #1 Pick a breed that works for your family

I grieve as well for every dog that has crossed over Rainbow Bridge. Each dog that I have owned has helped or taught me lessons in my life. I also know that when one dog crosses over I need to rescue a new one. I believe it is part of my life purpose. After about a week of grieving our house becomes too quiet. William, my son and I go to Petfinder and begin the quest of looking for a new dog. It’s always the same. We first choose a breed, “Golden Retriever.” Then we pick an age, “18 months+.” Don’t get me wrong. I love puppies but they are always chosen first. I like to think that adopting an older dog is helping one that may not have been picked. Older dogs are usually house broken. That being said the last 2 times I rescued a dog it was not a Golden Retriever. God had chosen a different breed. After Jake (our red Golden) crossed over we adopted Oddie. He was called “Broken.”

Oddie is part Malamute, Chow, Dog De Bordeaux and Border Collie. My husband and I found him in Seattle. Our family discovered very quickly that Oddie had no interest in sitting still. He had a job to do. Some of his jobs were eating my $200 leather boots, knocking over my daughter’s fish tank twice, digging a hole in the backyard clear to the irrigation pipes in less than 30 seconds and figuring out how to drag the recycling can into the living room and distributing all the boxes around the house.

In all the years of rescuing dogs we had never adopted a working dog. Oddie would not have been a good choice for our family if I was teaching. He needed someone who was home all day. His previous family worked full time jobs and lived in a small home with no yard. They made attempts to walk Oddie every day. The first owners made the decision to rehome Oddie after he jumped through their front window. That is a very important tip for any family. Some dogs like Golden Retrievers are very patient and will sleep all day until you come home. If you adopt a working dog be prepared to get a lot of exercise. Oddie required 3 walks a day, socializing at the dog park and me never leaving him alone. I registered Oddie for an agility class. This was his calling. He needed the mental stimulation of going through tunnels, over an A frame, across the bridge and leaping over gates. Oddie is very smart. When I needed surgery on my shoulder he paid attention to what exercises I needed to do and at what time. If I did not follow through on my physical therapy Oddie took it upon himself to put his head under my arm and bump it up. He would bark when it was time to get up and slept next to me when I was resting. Oddie never leaves my side and will follow me everywhere including into the bathroom.

Tip #2 If you have another dog bring them with you when you chose your next dog

This is a very important for the Alpha dog.

If at all possible go to a shelter where the new dog has a chance to meet your other dog. At Companion Golden Retriever Rescue in SLC, UT the owners are required to bring the other dog with them. When we adopted Max, Jake came with us. Both dogs had to walk together down a street on leashes. They were put in a play area together to see if they could socialize with each other. Finally both dogs needed to eat together to see if there was any aggression issues. Max was a perfect fit for Jake. They both were male dogs and got along with each other the moment they met.

Tip #3 Make sure your new dog likes children if you have any

Some dogs do not like children. If you rescue a dog make sure to let the dog smell your hand before you pet them. More often than not rescue dogs have been hit or kicked. I recommend when you adopt a new dog take the Good Canine Citizenship Class with them. In some cities it is required in addition to getting your dog is licensed. Pick a breed that will work for your lifestyle.

Tip #4 Rescue a dog

My last bit of advice is to rescue a dog. A good place to start is Petfinder or the Humane Society. If you want a particular breed let them know. When your breed comes in they will notify you.

Congratulations! You’ve adopted a dog! Be prepared and patient. You life is about to be enriched in ways you’ve never dreamed possible.

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