My 9-year-old dog died unexpectedly last month, and I'm completely heartbroken. My best friend keeps telling me that I should just get over it and get a new dog. I don't know if I'll ever be ready for that. How do I make him understand?
Fido Forlorn (male, 28)
Dear Fido Forlorn,
Here's what you do. Ask your pal this question: "If I had a child who died, would you tell me to get over it and have a new one?" Hopefully his answer will be no and he'll get the picture.
Your friend may just be one of those unfortunate souls who doesn't comprehend the bond that can exist between a human and another animal. I've never been able to figure out those people, but they do exist. If he continues to bug you about it, be firm and tell him the subject is not open for discussion.
I've lost plenty of pets and people in my time, and I can say for certain that the grief is exactly the same. The death of any loved one rips your heart into shreds. You never really "get over" losing anybody, but time does make it easier to think of them with less sadness. If you need someone to talk to, lots of local and online support groups deal specifically with grieving the loss of a pet. You could ask your vet or local humane society for a recommendation.
You obviously loved your dog very much, and so many more out there need a home. Opening your heart to another dog doesn't mean you're trying to replace the one you lost. When the time feels right, the best way to honor your buddy's life is to save another one.
Good luck and God bless,