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Saying goodbye to a loved pet can be one of the most difficult steps an owner takes. Dogs and cats, in particular, give us years of unconditional love and companionship and when they die many people report that they feel a much higher than expected sense of loss and grief. Many people initially believe that they could never have a pet again, because the sense of loss is so great," says Dr Emma Whiston, who owns and operates the  veterinary service, My Best Friend, which provides end of life care for elderly and terminally ill pets, and bereavement support for their owners.

"Some people question if they can ever love another animal and others feel betrayal and disloyalty to the animal who has died if they bring another pet into their home. Some say they'll never get another pet because it would be too painful to experience this same level of grief again," says Dr Whiston.

So how do you know when you are ready for a new pet? Dr Whiston says that the two most important aspects are that the decision has to come from your heart and the timing has to feel right to you.

"I find it helps people to think of it as starting again with a new pet, rather than replacing their old pet because you can never replace the unique role each pet plays in our lives. "Once the initial shock and grief of a pet's death have passed, many people do start to think about getting another pet and there are important considerations - such as your lifestyle and what you are looking for in a pet - to take into account," says Dr Whiston.

"It is very likely that you will be at a different stage in your life than the one in which you acquired your previous pet so consider the type of pet - and even the breed - that suits your current lifestyle.

"With children in the house, many people are happy to have an active dog that the kids can run around with but on the other hand your new best friend might be a quiet dog that is happy to spend time indoors with you.

"You may also want to consider adopting a pet that is past the puppy or kitten stage. There are many adult animals in shelters who need a permanent and caring home and who have great love to give in return. Many people report that this is also an effective way of getting past concerns about house training a new pet," Dr Whiston says.

If a friend or family member has lost their pet, it is best to let them wait until they feel it is the right time to get a new pet, Dr Whiston cautions.

"Never try to talk a friend or family member into getting another pet. Well-meaning people sometimes even obtain a new pet for their friend or family member to help them get over their grief but this can be a real problem if the person is not ready to bond with a pet or if their lifestyle is no longer suited to a pet.

"It is perfectly natural to mourn the loss of a beloved pet and only you will know when you are ready to move on with another pet. My advice to anyone at this difficult time is to remember that the mutual love, trust and companionship they enjoyed with their previous pet is waiting for them when they are ready to find their new best friend," says Dr Whiston.

Petcare Information and Advisory Service Australia

Last Update: 12/11/07 23:57 Views: 3536

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