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“1 dog died get another 1?”

One cool thing about running your own website — in addition to the fame, fortune, respect, freebies, groupies and the tingly feeling my elbows get from typing so much — is that through the use of a program called Google Analytics, I get to see not just how many people are stopping by, but where you are from, how long you stay, and what’s on your minds.

I can ascertain with but a few clicks, for instance, that 1,498 of you visited Monday, perusing 1,978 pages; that more than 2,000 of you graced us with your presence yesterday. I also know what towns and states you came from, and what led you here. Don’t worry, though, I can’t see into your bedrooms.

Many of you are led here by search engines. Yesterday, for example, 14 ended up here after Googling “dog and elephant,” two after Googling “dog walking in Baltimore,” two by Googling “Biden dog.”

But there was one that landed here after typing in these words: “1 dog died get another 1?”

Abbreviated as the query was, it made me think. Here was a person, I assumed, undergoing some pain and confusion — someone who, on the one hand, was willing to research the dilemma life had thrown at them, and who wanted to do the right thing. On the other hand, I worried, here was a person who might accept the first answer that came up on Google.

We’re becoming a society that thinks our home computers hold all the answers. Maybe, by now, they do. But knowing as I do that what shows up first in search engine results isn’t always the best — that the cream doesn’t always rise to the top — I worry that some of us put a little too much faith in Google, Yahoo and the like.

Like I imagined this woman was doing, when it came to the decision on whether to get a new dog. Maybe she asked a friend or two for advice, maybe it was conflicting. So she turned to what we all turn to nowadays: Tell me, in my hour of need, almighty Internet Search Engine, what should I do?

I retraced her steps, typing “1 dog died get another 1?” into Google. The first two items that came up were from Yahoo Answers, a forum on which one can pose a question, and others answer it, sometimes knowing what they are talking about, sometimes not. A “best answer” is then selected by readers.

The question on Yahoo Answers was from a person who lost one of their two dogs three months earlier and was wondering if it was “too soon” to get another. The “best answer” was loaded with platitudes.

“Having a dog is a really special thing and when you loose (sic) one, it’s very hard. It’s really up to you on whether you think you’re ready or not. You need to make sure that everyone in the household is okay with getting another dog! Good luck and I’m sorry to hear that Lucy died! :(”

The next result is an ohmidog! entry about a Texas couple who were rushing their ailing dog to the vet when they were stopped by a police officer. When they complained about the delay, during which the dog died, the officer told them, “It’s just a dog, you can always get another one.”

I’m guessing that didn’t help, either.

So here, belatedly, is my advice, in case “1 dog died get another 1?” is still seeking an answer.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Get another 1. There is no specified grieving period you must go through alone. It won’t in any way negate the love and respect you had for your deceased dog. Sure, there are plenty of people who would advise you to wait — especially in times like these, when we’re hearing more and more about overcrowded animal shelters, and families dropping their dogs off because they can no longer afford to care for them, or because they’ve been forced to move into apartments that don’t allow dogs. There are those who would warn you to ask yourself first if your budget permits it, as if to suggest poor people shouldn’t get dogs. That’s just the sort of thing a computer would say.

If you want another dog — and the fact that you’re asking the question indicates you do — go right now, to an animal shelter, to Petfinder.com, to a rescue group and start looking.

As long as you don’t see a dog as expendable — as an item that can be trimmed from the family budget — there’s no reason, whatever your income level, not to have one.

Ace and I, if it were to come right down to it, would be homeless together. After all his cuteness is my best shot at getting people to drop a quarter in my hat. We’re in it for better or worse, through thick and thin, no matter what the economy throws at us. (I’m hoping he feels the same way.)

Death happens. Life goes on. A tanking economy is no reason for man to forsake his best friend.

Put that in your search engine.


Comment from tsg
Time January 7, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Your entry causes great reflection for [what if that was me?].
“Dog Stories”, “The Art of Racing in the Rain”, “Merle’s Door”…and of course “Marley & Me” – all left me feeling torturously sad when each dog’s time came…uncovering old loses of my own and wondering if any / all of my charges truly knew how much hold they had on my heart…and in return did I have as much a hold on theirs.
With death, the regret, the not knowing aspects, long past the point of a departure, are what are hard to reconcile. With human deaths, we generally have the opportunity to express ourselves openly to those we love and respect. With animals, we just hope that through the ways we can communicate understand just how much they’ve influenced our lives during their time with us.
Therefore, like relationships, it is not always best to jump right back in as it’s hard to avoid comparing the previous partner to a new one. As one who generally does not jump right back in, my unsolicited advice is to volunteer at a local shelter…and in the process maybe discover a fresh relationship with a potential new charge that carves his/her own spot in your heart rather than trying to fill the unique imprint of the previous.

Comment from Mary Schmidt
Time January 8, 2009 at 12:19 am

So many interesting thoughts raised by this blog entry….

I’m glad the person making the search was linked to ohmidog–very nice dog people here, people who’d understand the pain felt at the death of a beloved dog.

At its very best, the internet does allow users to find others out in cyberspace who might understand. Kind of how a novel or a fine song fill us with recognition sometimes. So I am thinking of the Googler and hoping she or he stops back here, especially for the excellent comments above from tsg.

Brilliant idea to volunteer at a shelter instead of just adopting a new dog right away.

I was a total nutcase after I adopted my perfect dog Amie over four years ago. My older dog had died, and the new stranger dog just made me grieve all over for the old dog. Who was this young dog in my home? Why didn’t she understand all of the words that the old dog did? And why did she have her own habits instead of the familiar ways of my old dog?

Well, now Amie is equally loved and I’m very glad I did adopt her. But I really was a weepy mess for the first couple months with Amie, and I adopted her too soon (but I’m so glad I did).

Comment from bluhawkk
Time January 8, 2009 at 7:36 am

Thanks for the insightful comments. I found that having more than furry being helps to alleviate the pain of losing one. The pain is always

Comment from bluhawkk
Time January 8, 2009 at 7:55 am

Thanks for the insightful comments.

I have found that having more than one furry companion helps to alleviate the pain when losing one. The pain is there even years later, but immediate comfort is also there provided by others in the family.

re: comment “becoming a society that thinks our home computers hold all the answers.”, this is likely no different than those in the past as well as in present who believe(d) everything that they read in newspapers or heard on radio or tv.

The school system has always been deficient in its ability or desire to challenge students in the discipline of critical thinking.

The amazing Internet has given more people the ability to voice different viewpoints. The question of critical thinking always remains crucial regardless the mode of communication.