Losing a pet is a devastating experience, and understandably so. Whether your beloved friend was old or young, had been with you for a long time or not, the bond you felt was real. Losing that is a shock none of us ever want to feel, and it affects everyone in different ways.
We all process grief uniquely, and that’s our right. Some of us cry, some of us rage; the list of emotions we might feel is almost endless. There are a million and one reactions to losing a loved one, none of them right or wrong, better or worse. They’re all part of our individual approaches to healing, and what works for us is always — with a few exceptions — ok.
One of the things people do when they’ve lost a pet that was dear to their heart is to bring a new pet home. This is a great way to honor your friend’s passing, whether you wait a week, a month, or a year — when you’re ready is the right time. Giving another animal a home where they’re loved and well cared for is a wonderful thing to do, and while they’ll never be the same as your old pet, you’ll love them, too.
Some people take this a step further and name their new pet after the one that just died. This is also their right, and a somewhat popular option. For example, Lisa Simpson (yes, I know she’s a cartoon) had about a million Snowballs, and then there’s the extreme example of that couple that cloned their dog when he passed away, giving the new dog the old dog’s name (obviously). But just because we can do that, does it mean we should? Hopefully this post will help you to figure it out.
Personally, I like to think of all my pets as unique individuals. Not only have they all come from different places, had very different personalities, and joined me at different times in my life, but they’ve all been very special to me. Too special to replace, which is what I’d feel like I was doing if I named a new pet after them once they’re gone. Mine is just one opinion, though, which is why the next section will probably be the most helpful.
Should I Name a New Pet After My Dead Pet?
First, let’s list a few pros and cons to naming your new dog after your old dog (or cat, bird, hamster, etc.). Then we’ll weigh the results.
Pros of Naming Your New Pet After Your Dead Pet
It’s a Constant Reminder
Having a new pet with your old pet’s name can remind you of the past — in a good way. It can bring back memories you cherished with your departed pet while you create new memories with your current one, keeping both close to your heart.
It can also help you gradually accept the fact that your old pet is no longer with you while you build a bond with the new addition to your family, as you won’t have to stop calling for your dearly departed.
It’s a Way to Keep the Bond Going
When you’re bonded deeply to someone, it’s hard to let them go. Especially if it happened suddenly, the shock could send you into a tailspin that can be difficult to pull yourself out of.
Having a new friend with the same name as your old friend could, essentially, help to keep that bond going in some way — even if it’s with a different pet. The name is a way to keep them with you always, which can provide some level of comfort.
It’s Less Work for You
Finding the perfect name for your new pet can be a tricky process. You want to give them a name that fits their personality, how they look, and that you’ll feel comfortable calling out in public! When you already have a name ready to go, all of this becomes irrelevant.
While the new pet’s personality may not fit the name you’ve recycled, it’s not like they really mind one way or the other. Plus, you’re already used to the name, so there’s no need to remember a new one.
Cons of Naming Your New Pet After Your Old Pet
It’s a Constant Reminder (Again)
While it can be a good thing to be reminded of your departed pet, for some of us it’s just too painful. My cat recently died, and I’m reminded of him every time I pass the urn that holds his ashes, when I notice my other cat being extra affectionate (he was almost aggressively loving), or when I see pictures of him.
These are all natural reminders and while they hurt, they also make me happy to remember him. But naming another cat after him? That would tear my heart out! It all breaks down to the differences of opinion and how we all process our pain. But constant reminders aren’t necessarily a good thing when we’re trying to move past a devastating experience.
It’s a Form of Denial
While denial is a natural step in the process of grief for many of us, it’s not healthy to dwell in this place for too long. It tends to keep you stuck in your grief longer than is healthy, essentially hitting the pause button on your healing process.
Naming a new pet after an old one, especially if they look similar (or almost identical in some cases), can keep you in denial of the fact that you’ve suffered a loss — one that you need to process before you can move on with your life.
It’s Unfair to the New Pet
We all know that animals don’t really care what we name them — it’s more for us than them, really. But animals are very sensitive to our energy, and when we’re missing our old pet so much that we basically give a new pet their identity, we’re asking a lot of them — whether it’s intentional or not.
When we have pets we love them dearly, and there’s no question that you love your new pet, too. But turning them into a rerun of your last best friend doesn’t really give them a fair shot; they’ll never live up to the bond you had with your old pet, and they’ll know that on some level.
So, now that we’ve listed the pros and cons, should you name your new pet after your dead pet? That is, of course, your decision. Personally, I wouldn’t do it — I’m in agreement with the cons more than the pros.
I’ve had numerous pets throughout my life, and while I’ve loved them all dearly, I’d never consider naming a new pet after an old one. As I mentioned earlier, one of my cats recently died, and I’d never even think to name a new cat after him. In fact, once my old lady is gone, I won’t be getting any more cats for quite a while — if I ever do.
The fact that people name their new pets after their dead pets never really made sense to me, but as I said earlier, mine is just one opinion. You can name your pet whatever you like, and as many times as you like — it’s your choice. But consider the pros and cons above before you do. You might find that giving your new pet a name of their own will help you to move on, as well as help the both of you to be happier in your new life together.