What to Expect When You Adopt a Dog After Losing Your First

I was introduced to my first dog through a photograph. She sat that lazy lab sit and looked right into the camera. Her fur was dirty, but she looked well fed, and when I asked about the pup’s living condition, we learned that the breeder kept the mama and litter outside in a kennel. Given the hot summer heat that year, I couldn’t imagine keeping a dog in that type of environment.

The runt and only black lab of her yellow-lab litter, this little girl deserved a home that would shower her with love and affection. Two weeks later, we brought her home and named her Maggie.

We had eleven sweet years with her. She loved water and did what she could to bend the rules of the house. According to Maggie, she technically wasn’t on the couch if at least two of her legs were still firmly on the floor.

After Maggie crossed the rainbow bridge, I wasn’t sure I wanted another dog. She was more than a pet; she was a beloved family member. Wouldn’t getting another dog be a betrayal to her memory? As I was to learn later, it wasn’t.

If you’re thinking of adopting or have already adopted another dog after saying goodbye to your first, here are some things to expect:

You will grieve the loss of your first pet. Watching the new pup wander about the house and choose the same sunny locations to catch a sunbeam, you will be reminded of the dog who went before, and it will bring about moments of grief. PetHelpful says that you need to allow yourself to grieve; it’s a natural process. Grieving for your first dog does not mean you love the new puppy any less just as adopting a new fur pal doesn’t mean you love the first pup any less.

You will compare the new puppy to the original lost furry friend. Whole Dog Journal notes that we will remember our time with our first pup and make comparisons in personality and training with the new pup. We’ll recall the good times of the former and “forget” the frustration we felt when he chewed through the video game cords or would rummage through the trash, leaving a mess.

Work to avoid making comparisons between your pups and value the spirit of your deceased dog for what they offered, not for what the new dog is missing.

You will feel guilty bonding with the new puppy. It’s only natural that you’re going to bond with your new pet. After ordering the puppy his own special embroidered dog collar, you’ll remember when you did the same for your first, and you’ll feel bad that you’re creating the same memories with your newest furry family member. Do not feel guilty. This new dog deserves the same amount of love, affection and care as the first. It’s because of the love of your first dog that you’re able to open your heart to another.

Our new pup is quite different from her older sister from another mister (sure, they never met, but they’re family to me). More independent and unafraid of thunder storms, she tackles things head on, and is a little on the stubborn side. But you know what? I wouldn’t trade her for the world.

After losing our first, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to look at another dog the same way again, never mind owning another one. It’s the memory of the love of our first dog that I’m able to move on and share the love with our second. Your heart will heal, and there’s always a dog out there who needs a loving home.