I am sorry. You cannot replace a German Shepherd, they are all individuals, but you can love another one, and have an awesome bond with another one.
Guilt is a funny thing. Funny is not a good word, strange maybe. It can eat us up. It can be helpful initially. I mean, by looking at what we did or didn't do in any situation, we can make changes so that something of that sort never happens again. But beyond that, guilt can really be unproductive and even unhealthy.
You can manage guilt, by accepting what responsibility you have in a situation and then promise yourself that you will never put a critter in that situation again, and then move on. Sometimes it is helpful to do something positive to kind of make ammends for what had happened. For some people, that might mean donating cash or products to a local shelter in your dog's memory. Other people find it more meaninful to work with their hands so to speak, like volunteering at a shelter and cleaning runs or walking dogs. It could mean something related to what happened to your dog, like adopting a dog that has had an accident and needs some medical care. I don't think we work off guilt, but by helping other critters in need it does help us feel better.
The biggest problem with GSDs is that they generally don't outlive us. We know going into it, that we are going to have to deal with the loss of our furry friend. When we get a puppy, age 12 or 14 seems so far in the distance that we don't worry so much about it. As our dog ages, there comes a time, barring accident or sudden illness that we start accepting the inevitable. When they go suddenly, it is so hard, especially when they are young and healthy.
I think it would be a very sad thing indeed if you, who are capable of forming a special bond with a GSD, will not get another dog. Losing them does rip us up, but is it not better to have experienced such a bond? I think that if losing the dog was so terrible that it completely wiped out what a wonderful thing having the dog was, than that is even sadder.
You have given yourself time to grieve for your lost dog. The grieving process has steps in it, and some of those steps involve experiencing the guilt, and loss, and the whole range of emotions. But on the other side is acceptance, and hopefully the understanding that you have a lot of love that is being wasted right now, that another dog could really benefit from.
You cannot replace your lost one, but that doesn't mean you will not love another one just as much, that you will not experience another bond similar to the one you had with him. It does not mean that your pup may not remind you of him in some ways, but be his own person in many others.
I hope that you can get over the guilt and loss you feel about your dog. Lots of people get a new dog right away to help them past the pain, and I think that can be a mistake for some people. But there is no doubt that a new dog can help you, and open you up to another canine/human world.
I have a bunch of dogs. I lost Arwen 3 years ago. I think of her in some way every day. She was that special. At this point, I do not think of how she went much. I think of the things we have done together, the good things, everything, but not much of her passing.
I am sorry that you lost your dog, and the way you lost him. I hope you come to the place where when you think of him, you can think of what a great boy he was.
Bear Cub, Hepsi-Pepsi
Cujo2, Karma Chameleon
Ramona the Pest, Kojak -- who loves you baby?
Tiny Tinnie, Susie's Uzzi, Kaiah -- The Baby Monster.