Why I bought a puppy so soon after losing my beloved dog Ruby

I recently did something I thought I would never do. I got a new puppy just weeks after losing my beloved dog, Ruby.

I used to think that people who got new dogs almost immediately after losing old dogs didn’t love their pets enough. Through personal experience, I now know that, if such a thing is possible, they loved their pets too much.

As many of you read at the beginning of February, my cavapoo Ruby passed away unexpectedly, at only five years old. When she started vomiting excessively, the vet thought she had gastroenteritis, but she died because it turned out she had an internal abscess that ruptured, leading to toxic shock.

Read more:Meet Ruby – the ‘UK’s most hopeless guard dog’

I had no reason to think that, like the multiple dogs reported to have gastroenteritis symptoms at the beginning of this year, she wouldn’t get better within a week or two. But she got sick on a Friday, had some brief respite after visiting the vet on the Saturday, and passed away on the Tuesday morning.

She died two hours before the earliest that the vet could see her – but I was told that even if they had seen her as soon as I phoned, there was nothing they could have done to save her. My only consolation was that I was with her at the time.

It was the worst shock of my life. I thought we had many, many more happy years to spend together. Ruby had been my best friend. More than that, my absolute world. When I hit rock bottom, Ruby was the one thing that kept me going. I don’t know where I would have been without her, or even if I’d still be here at all.

Life events led me onto antidepressants, and while things had massively improved recently – in fact, I remember thinking very shortly before Ruby fell ill that I wouldn’t have changed a thing – I’m relieved I hadn’t yet weaned myself off them , because I dread to think how I would have handled Ruby’s sudden passing if I hadn’t already been on medication. I was heartbroken and cried solidly for three weeks, as it was.



Ruby the cavapoo was only five years old when she suddenly passed away

I remember hearing about people who got new dogs straight after their previous one died, and feeling that it was somehow wrong, as if replacing the dog was as simple as replacing an old sweater. There were others who were the opposite. They were so pained by their loss, they swore they could never go through it again.

I imagined I would be somewhere in the middle, that I would grieve, take time to process what had happened, get used to life without my dog ​​in it, and take some time to do things I hadn’t been able to do while my life was so dog-centered.

But in losing Ruby, I lost a huge part of my identity. I struggled to remember what I did with myself before I became a dog owner. I played a lot of sport – something I stopped doing due to getting older, injury-prone and frustrated with myself for being physically unable to do what I used to be able to do. I traveled – but I’m fortunate that I managed to tick off all the major trips from my bucket list, leaving nowhere I’m absolutely desperate to visit, especially in these Covid-conscious times. I imagined that without the shackles of dog ownership, I’d go for more nights out, and perhaps take the opportunity to redecorate the house. But I wasn’t overly bothered.

I couldn’t shift my awareness of how empty, how quiet the house felt without a dog. The feeling was heightened by the fact I live alone and work from home. I needed a new furry friend and constant companion, and I had a lot to offer a dog in return.

I had wanted my next dog to be a rescue. I looked at every rescue from Wales to Cornwall, but there were no suitable dogs. In many cases, my home and lifestyle were not suitable for their breed or personality. I didn’t want an older dog as I wasn’t emotionally ready to suffer another loss in the near future. There were one or two dogs I got hopeful about, only to read that due to their anxiety, they needed another dog already in the home to help them settle in.

And so, I resolved to get a puppy. Even though Ruby had been perfect for me in every way – apart from her health issues including allergies, which had been no fault of hers – I couldn’t bring myself to get another cavapoo, though I hope one day in the future I’ll have another. So I looked around for something similar.



Harvey the Havamalt is a cute and mischievous puppy

And I found Harvey. Half Havanese, half Maltese – a Havamalt. Cute as a teddy bear. Affectionate. Low shedding. Non-slobbery. Not needing a huge amount of exercise, as he only has tiny legs. Small enough to bath in the kitchen sink. I fell in love with him after seeing his first photo.

So, although I imagined, a couple of months ago, that this week I would be celebrating Ruby’s sixth birthday with a shared steak, a nice walk together and lots of cuddles, instead I have no Ruby. I have a mischievous little 10-week-old, who is usually found swinging from the bottom of my dressing gown or nipping my toes and, even if he manages to go to the toilet where he is supposed to, he will paddle in it and tread it everywhere.

He is hard work, but he is adorable, he makes me laugh more often and more heartily than I have in a long time, and he keeps me focused on the present rather than the past. I hope that in time we will form a bond as strong as the one I had with Ruby.

I accidentally call him Ruby now and again. I think that would have happened whether I’d got another dog now or in several years’ time.

There is no right or wrong length of time to go between pets, no amount of time to grieve that works for everybody. Ruby and Harvey are very different. Harvey hasn’t replaced Ruby in my heart, only in my home. I still think about Ruby and miss her every single day. I miss everything about her and my life with her, from the way she’d come and lie on my chest with her paws on my shoulders as soon as she realized I was awake, to the way she’d curl up behind my knees last thing at night.

I loved seeing how much she made other people smile, and after she passed away I was touched to hear how she affected so many people in so many ways. It made me realize I wasn’t just a biased pet-parent. She was truly special.

I read a quote I liked recently which unfortunately was unattributed. It said: “A new dog does not replace an old dog – it merely expands the heart.” I couldn’t agree more.

I have learned to truly appreciate the good things I have in my life while I have them, and to be less judgmental of other people when I have not been through what they’ve been through. I hope that by reading my story, other people will be a bit more understanding too.

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