How Long Should You Wait Between Pets?

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When we lose a pet, how long should we wait before replacing them?

When we lose a pet, how long should we wait before replacing them?

Most of us know what it’s like to lose a pet. It comes with a sense of loss that hits us daily between one and four weeks until we finally acclimate to the absence of our once regular companion. It doesn’t take long for us to want to replace that pet.

So how long should you wait before you get another pet?

Sixty-two percent of American households have at least one pet. This says a lot about our human need for companionship. Singles especially enjoy the companionship of having “someone” else at home, with whom they can share their space. Young couples get pets for parent practice. Families get them for kids. Empty nesters get them to replace the void left by their grown children.

But when a pet dies, we are faced with the dilemma of replacement. Do it too soon and it feels somehow disrespectful. Waiting gives you time to think the whole thing through and perhaps make a change.

Here are three things you should do before you get a new pet.

Wait until you have fully grieved.
Emotionally we need time to heal. We just committed several years of our lives to our pet and we need to deal with our feelings. Walking in the door isn’t the same when there is no “one” there to greet you or depend on you to fill the food dish. But it’s good for us to shed a tear or two. It’s healthy and normal for us to ache when we see the pillow in the corner or the toy beside the chair. Embrace those emotions until they fade — that’s when you’ll know you’ve healed.

Evaluate your new situation.
In order to prepare for the future, you need to understand your current situation. Do you have a fenced yard? Will you likely need to move soon? Do you travel regularly? Would a different pet bet a better fit? Now is the time to think through and plan well. It might be appropriate to wait until you move or improve your home. Do you prefer a dog that barks less than before? Or a cat that is more sociable? You might need to switch from dog to cat, or cat to bird, or bird to fish. You have a clean slate, so take the time evaluate your new situation and be thoughtful.

Ask yourself if you can wait one more week.
It may sound a bit strange, but ask yourself to wait one more week. It’s a good mechanism to suppress impulse decisions. This technique can apply to many other areas, such as spending money on questionable items, participating in risky or questionable activities and making a long term commitment (e.g. tattoo or marriage). At some point, deferring your decision will either lead you to decide that it’s OK to wait indefinitely because the urge fades and your head is more clear, or the desire will become stronger until you are confident that the time has come. No matter which one happens, you can be confident that you made a good, well-thought decision.

How long should you wait between pets? Predictably, the answer is “it depends on the person and the situation”, but if you find yourself in this dilemma, give yourself time to grieve your loss, evaluate the situation and defer new decisions. You’ll be healthier and happier when you do.

Have you gone through this recently? What did you do?

Copyright 2014 Lance Olive, All Rights Reserved.

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