I have a new dog.
Now, in most homes, a new pet is cause for celebration—a new family member to love and enjoy. And yes, there IS some of that. Rosco (my new two-year-old chug—that’s a pug/chihuahua mix) is a great little guy.
But for me, there’s sadness behind the novelty and the joy, because it’s only been a little over a year since my pugs, Caesar and Chipper, died.
Even as I write this, I have to stop myself from referring to Caesar and Chip as my “real” dogs. But somewhere deep down inside me, that’s exactly what they were.
No—they were more than that. They were more than pets to me. They were my best friends, my children—the only children I’m ever going to have.
And because they meant so much to me, Rosco’s arrival has left me feeling ambivalent, torn.
Because here’s what I can’t help but think:
If I love Rosco, it means that Caesar and Chip never mattered.
Intellectually, of course, I know this is nonsense.
Nothing can or ever will change how much I loved my “real” dogs (there it is again). But even when I tell myself how silly I’m being, I can’t help but feel that letting myself care about a new dog is a betrayal of the old ones.
I get how stupid that is. According to this logic, no widow could ever remarry, no parent could have a child after losing one, no goldfish could be replaced (or maybe even upgraded to a hamster). But the heart is not a logical organ, and right now, it’s my heart that’s doing the thinking, not my brain.
I know these feelings will fade over time. I’ll feel less like bursting into tears every time Rosco climbs on my lap and gives me a kiss. I won’t feel the need to offer a silent apology every time I pass the photo of my pugs that I keep on my dresser.
Eventually, Rosco will be a normal part of my everyday life and that will be okay.
But for now, I’m betraying my children—and that doesn’t seem okay.
Still, I can’t help liking the new guy. I mean, how can you NOT fall for a face as goofy as his?
Yeah, I think Rosco and I will be just fine. We just need a little time.