How Long Should You Wait Before Getting a Puppy?

Hershey looking

February 26, 2013 was one of the worst days of my life. I got new that my mix breed’s, Hershey, kidneys were failing and, despite the vet’s best efforts, there was nothing else to do but let her go. She was 12 years old and I had her since she was about six weeks old. She had survived parvo as a puppy but, unfortunately, there is no dialysis for dogs. I spent several hours with her that afternoon on my couch with her and my three golden retrievers, knowing it was the last time I was going to spend with her.

The day before, knowing that the end was near, I contacted a golden retriever breeder and let her know I was interested in getting a puppy. A year later, I’m still waiting. This is partly because I did not have time to dedicate to a puppy last year as I searched for my training building. Puppies are a lot of work! Now I’m waiting for the “right” puppy to be born!

I’ve not waited the same amount of time to bring a puppy into my life after each of my dogs died. I’ve waited about six months after my golden retriever, Morgan, died before Skye entered my life. When Tiger died, Eagle was already 10 days old. I brought him home six weeks after Tiger died.

Each dog has a unique spot in my heart and I do not believe your can “replace” your old dog with a new puppy. Each new puppy needs to walk on his own paws…. it’s the same reason I never re-use a dog’s name. There’s only one Tiger, one Morgan and one Hershey for me!

The timing to add another dog after a lose is a very personal thing and there’s no “right” way to go about finding joy in a puppy after the sorrow of losing a best friend. My waiting this time had more to do with my being able to care for a puppy — not my lack of desire to have a bouncy puppy full of life to remind me each and every day how special each of them truly is!

How long have you waited to add a puppy back into your life?


  1. I absolutely agree you can’t replace a dog. I think it would be a terrible disservice to try, for both me and the dog. But I can’t imagine life without paws, tails, fringed ears, smiling eyes and lips. I love the clatter in the hall when it’s walktime, the soft noses pushing into the back of my knee, the sighs and grunts and muffled dream woofs. I’ll always have a dog, and if I get too infirm to take care of one, I hope someone brings a therapy dog around.

    This is first the anniversary of Hope’s illness and eventual death, and I miss her. I wish our dogs lived longer, but when Hope died, she was ready. Her body hurt, and she’d stopped relishing those things that give dogs and people joy together. She ached while walking, couldn’t manage the stairs. She had always loved being brushed, but in the last week of her life it seemed to hurt her skin. When the diagnosis came through in late March, my vet said we had 4 to 8 weeks left. At first the medication brightened her, her step got quicker, she thumped her tail for me again. I hoped for enough time to let her swim in the pond. But when the ice went out, she was failing. She did swim, once more, but she went in to please me, not for joy of the water. She couldn’t climb out. I waded in and lifted her. I knew that day it was time to say goodbye and let her go.

    Part of me wishes I could have gotten on the phone in those five weeks and made plans for my next dog. But I’ve never been able to do that. I have an idea that our dogs find and choose us, and believing that, I’m inclined to wait. I also have multiple dogs, so the house wasn’t empty. I have my charming, anxious Mick, who spent the first six years of his life in an outdoor cage, 4 by 15 feet. I have my inscrutable, brilliant Nell, my little freak who dreams of herding—wild turkeys, cats, the snow plow. More time to work with them, I thought.

    Then I got a call, about a dog needing a new home in a hurry. An 8 month old retriever, hyper, not housetrained, a manic barker, destructive. I went to evaluate her, not in the least worried. It’s not that I don’t like goldens. It’s just that there are so many border collies who can’t make it in the civilian world, so to speak. I lined up three possible families for this dog, all experienced retriever people. I was sure I was immune.

    Well, so. My A friend calls it a foster failure. Poppy came home and Nell fell promptly in love. Gradually, I did too. She never once reminded me of Hope, this goofy, smiling dog, without any urgency in her spirit, a floppy eared, trusting yellow clown. She’s the dog I never knew I needed. She’s the unplanned surprise. If I’d followed the plan, I would never have known that there’s room in my heart too, for an adorable, dark eyed dog with ridiculous paws, who lies on her back and ululates songs of yellowness and love. Who knew? Hope would understand.

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