As much as we might love our dogs, the unfortunate truth is that many dog years fit into our human years. So, despite our great love and loyalty, it’s inevitable that our love and affections are going to shift onto another dog.
Moreover, just to compound the betrayal, our affections often shift from our elderly battler onto a gorgeous young pup. Not that I’m saying this has any parallels to someone ditching an older model human for a younger, New Improved Version. However, if I was an elderly pet and I saw my parents looking up:”Puppies For Sale”, I’d be feeling devastated, rejected…cast upon a canine scrapheap!
However, that’s all very well from the dog’s perspective. The dog isn’t the one who gets left behind. The dog doesn’t have to endure the empty silence… no paws clattering through the house. The magpies strutting free range through the backyard, without that omnipresent bark to contain them. Worse still, however, is the tears and having to tell the kids that a much loved family member has gone. Passed on. Crossed over the rainbow bridge. Nobody likes to break their little hearts. As parents, we’re always trying to make it better, and the loss of the family pet is devastating for a child. Quite often, they probably don’t even remember a time “before”. The dog has always been there just like Mum and Dad.
Or, perhaps, Mum or Dad have gone and the dog has been their rock.
I know what our family dog meant to me growing up. How he understood me like no person could. That was, until he ran away and was gone. (His name was Lassie but he obviously hadn’t watched the movie!!)
So, you don’t need to be a psychologist to see that anything you could do to minimise this loss, would be prudent. A preventive measure.
Which brings “the overlap” into play. You bring the second dog into the family before the older dog has passed, and dog number 2 seamlessly shifts into the older dog’s paws…especially if they’re the same breed.
It all goes back to that famous philosophy: “If you can’t have the one you love, love the one you’re with” which I’ve also known with this little tail at the end: “and if you can’t love the one you’re with, turn off the light”.
However, like the best laid plans of mice and men, things don’t always go to plan.
What happens if the old dog recovers? Gains a second wind? The new dog attaches to the old dog. So now when your elderly family dog passes away, your not only have the grieving kids to consider, but also a grieving pup.
Once again, you’re back in the market for another dog.
How on earth did that happen?
Two years ago, Lady, our scruffy black Cavalier x Border Collie joined the family. That said, it took Bilbo a few weeks to join the party and Lady wasn’t too keen on him either. We had a front door dog and a back door dog and the kids thinking we’d made a huge mistake.
Only ever intending to have one dog, it looked like we’d timed the transition pretty well. Then, Bilbo gained a second wind after Lady arrived. She also taught him how to be a dog. Moreover, having Lady in his corner, gave Bilbo much more confidence meeting other dogs down at the beach. He was a new dog and this was a much welcomed miracle!
Meanwhile, it’s clear Lady will never make it as a single dog.
So, the kids have started campaigning. Our daughter has been desperate for a pug for ages. She’s absolutely mad about them but we don’t share her enthusiasm. We could get tempted by another Border Collie but they need a lot of exercise.
Meanwhile, I’m hoping that giving Bilbo loads more vitamins, will mean he’ll outlive us! It’s worth a try.
Are you a dog lover? How have you approached this changing of the guard?