Does this scene sound familiar? You’re getting ready to go out on an errand, pick up your pocketbook and your keys, and your dog appears out of nowhere, parks herself in front of the door and stares up at you with eyes that could melt a snowman. Or, he dances around your ankles, jumps up on your legs, and begs you not to leave in that way known best to dogs. Kelly wants to be with me wherever I go. But worse, when I leave, she lies by the front door and waits dejectedly until I return. Although this devotion is sweet, I feel bad for her. In a way, I kind of wish she’d be like Tom Cruise in Risky Business, dancing around the house and having wild fun while I’m away. It makes me sad to think she’s just lying by the door pining away. It’s nice to be loved, but Kelly has separation anxiety. I work from home, so my dog and I are together all day. She lies by my feet as I type. She follows me into the kitchen and up and down the stairs. We take breaks to walk and play fetch. Granted, I need her as much as she needs me. My kids are grown up and out of the house. She’s my little girl. But, like all moms, I want her to be happy and well adjusted. I’ve considered buying another dog, so she could have a playmate. But Kelly thinks she should be the only dog in the world. She doesn’t always get along well with other dogs. For the same reason, doggy play groups are out. It’s not that I leave her often, but when I do, I’d like her to feel confident that she’ll be fine while I’m away. I haven’t gone on a vacation in a long while, but I would like to. If Kelly is upset when I leave for a few hours, how will she handle my being away for a few days? The last time we took a trip to visit our daughter out of state, we brought Kelly along. We kept her in her crate when we went out to dinner. But Kelly barked the whole time and upset the neighbors in the apartment complex. If only she’d known to keep quiet for that brief time, she would have earned the opportunity to join us on the trip again. Now that option is closed. There are many joys in pet ownership and many concerns. I will continue to search for ways to ease her anxiety and make adjustments easier. After all, I would like to visit my daughter again.And I’d like Kelly to know I’ll always return home to her.
What I Learned From my Dog: The love of a dog is special and sweet. But Kelly reminds me that part of my responsibility is to foster a sense of security, and patience, too.