Ask a Terrier: Extolling Consoling
When is it appropriate to get another dog? Our sweet Izzy crossed the Rainbow Bridge six months ago. Bitzy, her sister, has adjusted pretty well, we think. Except now in the middle of the night she jumps off the bed and checks all the rooms like a night watchman. I worry that’s kind of obsessive behavior. But then, so is my following her around at night.
Nothing can replace our Izzy! But all of us, including Bitzy, miss the company of another dog. The question is, are we ready?
Izzy’s family in Michigan City, MI
Dear Izzy’s family,
I so sympathize with your loss of Izzy, whether over the Rainbow Bridge or in one of the rooms of your home. Last year we lost Brisby, our Senior-level Administrative Canine. As he was a Very Good Boy, he too traveled the Rainbow Bridge, according to my Giants. After weeks of tears, they seemed to find tranquility sharing that beautiful rainbow image. Although to us Canines, such a bridge would be perceived in various shades of grey.
A lovely metaphor, though. I hope it’s true. Brisby would have liked that. He enjoyed his walks and I’ll bet a rainbow smells great!
So, how long before a new Canine should be inducted into your pack? For us, a year passed. Then came Cheadle.
A puppy of questionable ancestry, though probably a least one dog was involved, Cheadle came to us from an out-of-state home for strays. You know those kindly, no-kill animal shelters so popular nowadays? Well, this ain’t one of ‘em.
My Giants were told by the rescue agency that this four-month-old Labrador/Terrier mix had been sentenced to his own Rainbow Bridge, so they made room for him on the transport. Back then, he was referred to as “Ringmaster.” My Giants named him “Cheadle”. I call him “Green Mile.”
Among the many, many confusions between Giants and Canines is that the former doesn’t think the latter capable of feelings. In fact, Canines, like Giants, understand feelings better than they do the difference between “former” and “latter.” Thus, when considering the addition of a new dog, it is imperative to include your current pets in the family discussion.
GIANT 1: “Hon, are we really ready for Cheadle?”
GIANT 2: “I am, Dave! It’s time. We all miss our Brisby. Don’t we, Budleigh? Yes, we do! Oh, yes we do!”
BUDLEIGH: “Brisby’s the grey one, right? Sleeps in the red wingback chair? Is the ‘Good Dog?’ Sure, I miss it. Him.”
GIANT 2: “Actually, Budleigh’s handled the loss of his Brisby pretty well, Dave. He was depressed for a while. But he seems OK now.”
GIANT 1: “Dogs don’t understand death.”
BUDLEIGH: “Uh, excuse me? Have you talked with the rabbits out back? No! ‘Cause there aren’t any! Me and Brisby are two of their Four Horsemen!”
GIANT 1: “It’s just that a new dog – and a puppy? That’s a big step, hon!”
GIANT 2: “I know, Dave. But you know that we’ll love him—”
BUDLEIGH: “Less than me, right?”
GIANT 2: “—and he’ll keep Budleigh from getting bored.”
BUDLEIGH: “I’ve got the Internet! I stole your passwords”
GIANT 1: “How about just buying new toys for Budleigh?—”
BUDLEIGH: “With squeakers!”
GIANT 1: “—or an obedience class?”
BUDLEIGH: “Hard pass!”
GIANT 1: “And what if they never get along?”
BUDLEIGH: “Hey, I got used to you two.”
GIANT 2: “I don’t have the answers, Dave. I just know that Brisby’s loss left a dog-shaped hole in my heart.”
GIANT 1: “And mine. I miss him so much. I still see him lying in the red wingback, guarding the neighborhood.”
GIANT 2: “Nothing can ever replace Brisby, Dave. But he’d want us happy. He’d want a dog to have a home. He’d want us to love Cheadle. It might even help Budleigh process his grief and move on.”
GIANT 1: “Yes! Let’s do this!”
BUDLEIGH: “Just keep this Cheadle off the red wingback. Or Brisby gonna be really pissed when he gets back!”