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When is the time right to replace a pet?

by Kitty Walker, LMSW-ACP

Dear Kitty,

Hi, my name is Shawn. I'm 14 and from New Jersey. My dog, Holly, just recently died on July 7th and it was the only companion, friend, family member that I have ever truly loved with all my heart. She had a very rare blood disease and she got sick one morning, turned all yellow, and then died the next morning.

I didn't even have time to say good-bye. She was only 5. She was a great dog. She didn't have a mean bone in her body. She never growled or got angry with anyone. She always loved and knew when I was feeling bad she would make me feel a lot better. I thought I wanted another dog, but I didn't want to replace Holly and to my surprise my parents got a new 9-week-old puppy. It's only been in this house for three days but I hate it so much! It is the meanest dog I have ever met. It growls and bites and attacks and never cuddles (Holly always cuddled) I just don't want it in my house any longer and if it doesn't leave then I am. I truly hate that dog. I would sell my soul to get holly back.

I really wish that was possible, but it's not and I can't live without her. Is this feeling going to be with me the rest of my life? Am I ever going to be able to handle this? And what do I do about the puppy?

Shawn

Dear Shawn,

Please accept my condolences for the loss of your Holly. Sounds like she was your canine soul mate, a loss that you will carry with you for all time. It is really awful that she got so suddenly sick, then died with almost no warning. She was a gentle spirit and I can tell that you miss her more than words can say.

You are wiser than your parents in knowing there is no replacement for Holly. I fully believe that they were trying to do their best in getting the new puppy, but as you have stated, the comparison of the new one is jarring. If you had never had a girl like Holly, then perhaps the new one would have had a chance to win you over. I pray that by the time you read this, things have settled down and you are open to receiving a very different dog. I know and you know that you will not love this dog the same way that you did your Holly...however, I hope that you will give the new little one a chance.

I hurt for you and your loss. I also can tell that you have talent in writing. I hope that you will consider writing a tribute to Holly. It can be some thoughts and feelings and memories, to show how much you loved her. You can keep it to yourself or post it on our web site here at beyond Indigo.

This is a way you can say good-bye to her, since you did not have a chance to when she was alive.

Feel free to write to me anytime about your feelings. Holly was a precious darling, and I know that you miss her enormously.

My Best,

Kitty


Ask Kitty is a psychotherapist specializing in grief and loss issues which humans encounter when their pets die. She has worked in this area for a number of years, providing counseling to people at this special time of need. She also provides consultation and education to employees of veterinary clinics in her area.

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