Just the other day I was talking to a couple of big time dog lovers. I could have stood there talking for the whole day probably. At one point the topic turned to loss and dealing with the loss. We mulled it around for quite a while; each taking time to share their loss stories. The statement that we ended the topic of discussion on was that we need dogs in our lives. No matter how difficult, sad, traumatic and devastated we are from a loss; we must do it again. I have talked to many people who can never do it again; once they have suffered the loss of a life long canine companion they just can't do it.
I am often asked "when is the right time," by people who have recently suffered a loss. There is never a right time; each and every person must deal with the loss in their own and very personal way. One of the woman that I was talking to said that a particular dog of hers took her ten years to get over. But then she shared her story with us about how she acquired the next. She actually added a dog to her life on the very day that she lost her old girl but grieved for a full ten years after. It was a strange, sad and wonderful situation but it all worked out the way that it was meant to. As she told me her story I thought that it was the most perfect way to explain to people "when the best time is."
As humans we tend to feel guilt for a great number of things. The addition of a new dog after a loss is one of those things. Many people ask me "am I disrespecting my dog if I get another right away?" My answer to that is no. Your dog is gone, yes; but that love you shared was so great that you cannot bear to not have a dog in your life. That is a wonderful thing. You cannot bring your dog back by waiting a certain amount of time. Your dog is gone, perhaps one of the loves of your life. By bringing another canine into your life you will be sharing that past love; all the things that you learned over the years with the next one.
I am not saying that you should go and get a new dog the day after you lose one; not at all. I am saying that you should never feel as though you are doing wrong somehow by the first by adding another to your life. When the time is right and you feel the need for a dog in your life, then do it. The dog that you lost filled so much of your life and your heart that it may need some filling up in short order. By adding another dog to your life, you in no way dishonor the last. That grieving can continue well into the weeks and months that follow; with or without a new dog present.
Loss is a very sad thing but a fact of living with dogs. Is there a right or wrong time to add another? No. It is never too early or too late to add a dog to your life. The only question is how long you can live without the pitter patter of four paws on your heart.