Should I get another pet?


The Fragile Circle Comes 'Round

The decision to get another pet varies with each person. Some people get another pet immediately because they do not want to be alone. Other people take their time and may wait weeks or months before adopting a new pet. Still others do not get another companion animal because the pain of loss is too great or the thought of grieving again is too much to bear.

Of course we can never replace the pet that died. Just as every person is an individual, every pet has his own personality. For me, the love that I have for the animals in my life can never be replaced and I don’t want to replace it. I have had a unique and personal relationship with each and every one of my animal friends. After a time, however, I find that my heart has the capacity for new love to grow.

Grief is the price we pay for loving. Through all the tears and sadness comes one thought that makes us smile again: we deeply loved a particular animal and that love was returned to us a thousand-fold. The one who waits for us on the other side will always hold a special place in our hearts, a place that no other animal can fill.

The pain of losing a beloved animal may raise questions about adopting another pet. Will the broken heart ever dare to risk loving an animal again? But when we are ready, the heart will accept another pet into the fragile circle and we will love once more.

In the natural cycle of life, the fragile circle expands, contracts and expands again. As we welcome another companion animal into our homes and hearts, we will begin to understand that love is the strongest force in the universe. Through our pets, living and dead, we experience unconditional love firsthand and that is their greatest gift to us in the fragile circle of life.

From Ask the Animals: A Vet’s-Eye View of Pets and the People They Love by Bruce R. Coston, DVM. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2009. From a chapter called The Gift, page 132:


I suspect…that a deep love and empathy [for animals] is not a hereditary trait. I certainly didn’t inherit it from my parents. I have come instead to believe that it is a random, almost reckless gift from God to a privileged few who throughout their lives honor the Gift. The Gift does not come without a price, to be sure. For it is accompanied by the burden of seeing innocent animals suffer at the hands of pitiless people, the responsibility of raising orphaned squirrels and blue jays, and the crushing blows of losing special pets. But in repayment, the gift returns a wealth of rewards from the animals that enrich our lives—rewards that are unnecessary for me to list here, for those who share the Gift already know, and those who don’t, wouldn’t understand anyway…


And paraphrased from page 134: We recognize the Gift in others and ourselves, accept the rights and responsibilities it bestows and affirm it again and again throughout our lives. Thank you, God, for the Gift.  

CJ's Note: Ask the Animals is reminiscent of James Herriot’s wonderful books. Coston’s memoir offers funny, sad and touching stories about a veterinary practice where the patients cannot speak, yet communicate deeply.





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How complicated and individual mending is,
the time required for healing
cannot be measured against any fixed calendar
Mary Jane Moffat
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