I’ve never been able to understand people who think any deceased person can immediately be replaced with a dog. Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent twelve years in and around animal rescue, but the worst possible gift for anyone is a living being that requires constant care and feeding. It is the gift that keeps on costing. (I have five dogs. I love my dogs. The costs never end.)
A pet as a gift makes no sense any time, much less as a distraction from grieving. A pet is a living being with a unique set of needs and a unique personality. It is not a fashion accessory. A pet owner makes a commitment to a pet to care for him for his lifetime. This should not be a commitment by proxy. It should not be an arranged marriage,
Pet owners require the ability to find their pets. Hopefully, this will happen at their local rescue. The human-pet bond is a magical thing, but it cannot be forced or assumed. If you’ve decided to adopt, go to your local Adopt-a-Pet and meet the pets. If your dog is there, you will recognize him. If he’s not, try again the next week. Your dog is waiting for you. However, your friend’s surprise pet is not.
You can divorce a hastily-chosen spouse. You can’t divorce a pet. Divorcing a pet means leaving him at the shelter – which depending on his age, size and breed could be a death sentence.
The next time one of your friends is widowed or divorced or dumped, just drop off another person of the proper sex and age and say “Here’s your new partner. You have to clean him and feed him, but I’m sure you’ll get along fine. Forever.” If you think that seems insane, why would you do it with a dog?