I am the worst sort of dog parent. I am sure that dog shelters and my friends may argue otherwise, but there is a special kind of unhealthy for dog moms like me, who tend to their canine's every little whim, anthropomorphizing every expression and quirk of the eyebrow into a complex thought or need, even trying to speak for the dog.
No, I am a peculiar sort of terrible in the realms of pet-ownership. I am a helicopter dog mom.
The depths of my depravity have only just become known to me, as the dog has revealed a new behavior. Over the past few weeks, she's been chewing up things left unattended on the floor. Our floors never have anything on them, so the carnage has been curtailed to one of the 45 houseplants, and a copy of our best friend's kid's birth certificate. After the birth certificate, I realized I had to fix this. How I could better pay attention to my poor ailing dog that was obviously experiencing some sort of rejection, some sort of pain?
No, she is a dog. And she's trained me to spend every single minute on her, and when I don't, she let's me know she's pissed, and finds something to destroy. This is my fault. But do I try fix it? No. Instead, I dote on her. Even reward her by taking her outside or for a walk. This is me talking. Me, the clinical social worker well versed in cognitive psychology, reinforcing bad behavior.
Tonight, both the husband and I have a lot of creative work to do in our respective offices. Lately, since the weather's been lovely, whenever we're engaged in something that does not include the dog, we come downstairs to cholorophyllic carnage. So, today, in an effort to curtail this, I took her on a two mile walk. This is after I took myself on my normal three mile walk, and now my normal work-time has been seriously cut.
Basically, I am spending my entire life on the dog. When I am at friends' houses, I sometimes wonder if the dog is worried about us. Whenever we have a trip planned, I worry about the dog until we leave, and still while we're away. This is insane. She'll be fine; she's always been fine. But here I go again, wondering about the dog's fears and worries all alone in the house, when she'll be passed out on the couch until we walk in the door.
This has gotten serious.
I've always been an animal lover. Growing up, I think I liked the family cat more than I liked my sister. I was a few cats and a mohair sweater away from becoming a crazy cat lady. I'm proud to say that I'm a big fan of my sister now and we get along famously, plus, I don't have a cat anymore. Instead, I've put all of that crazy cat lady attention on my dog. Which doesn't make it any better, really.
I need to put all of that energy elsewhere, focus it on something amazing, and spend a healthy amount of attention on our great and wonderful pet. Because I've only just realized now, eight years into ownership of our beautiful dog, how much I'm wrapped around her little dew-claw. She's too smart for me, or I'm too stupid for her.
But there's hope for me yet, because the first part of fixing any problem is realizing that you have one. I learned that in my clinical social work classes, too. So now that I am aware of the depths of my helicopter-ness, I just have to retrain the dog into not manipulating me.
But how can you resist that face?