There won’t be much middle ground on this. People will totally understand and get it, or people will think I’m crazy. I’m aware, I might be crazy, CRAZYBOUTMYDOG OHMYGOODNESS! Yes, I’ve recently become aware that the relationship with my dog is “unhealthy” and “I’m too reliant on him” and “quit putting my advice in quotation marks.” But it’s all circumstantial. I also think the owner can project his feelings on to their dog. This is something I’m no doubt guilty of. I’ll be refering to my dog as “he”, because “he” he is. But this goes for all dogs, breeds, sex, EQUAL RIGHTS YA’LL!
Let me paint you a picture (on a small canvas so it won’t be long): I grew up with a dog and two cats my entire life. In 7th grade I had a crush on girl who was going to look at a Shih Tzu with her mom. I tagged along and then called my mother telling her “we just haaaaaad to get one as well.” If she got a puppy, and I got a puppy, then maybe our puppies would play together and we could make out to No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak”! That dog, Penny Lane, quickly became my mother’s dog and they were attached. Penny followed her everywhere, went to work with her everyday, to the point where even as a 15 year old, I thought it was a little unhealthy. So I grew up seeing that, never thinking it would have an impact on me as an adult.
I’d always wanted my own dog, but wanted to make sure I could care for properly, meaning I was out of school, it wouldn’t be left alone all day, etc. So last year my girlfriend and I got a miniature poodle named Max. We lived together in a Dallas high rise and it was a total apartment dog, which always bummed me out. Then that girl and I broke up and she kindly let me keep Max, or maybe I grabbed everything I could, picked up the dog and ran, but that doesn’t really matter at this point. We had been parents to Max for 6 months, but I moved away from Dallas and her, and I took Max with me. For months he only reminded me of her, and I always thought he looked sad. I kept telling myself, IT’S JUST A DOG IT’S JUST A DOG DOGS CAN’T GET DEPRESSED. But really I was probably saying that to myself, using him as some form of coping mechanism.
Months went by and I started to forget about the girl, but realized I was obsessed with the dog. Did I just give you all way too much background info? Maybe! But it’s only so I can preemptively defend myself, knowing someone might send me to therapy or, wait….does my dog need therapy? Should we both go? OHMYGOODNES. I’m going to go Google dog therapists while you read the Nine Signs of an unhealthy relationship…with your dog.
1. YOUR’E JEALOUS WHEN HE SLEEPS WITH OTHER PEOPLE
This one is a killer. Because all the cute things he does with you at night, like cuddle up next to your legs under the covers, then crawl up and sleep in your arms, you think those are your things. Then you take him to visit your parents and as your going to bed you notice he doesn’t follow, then find him cuddled up under the covers with your mom. CHEATER! LIAR! THAT’S OUR THING! HOW COULD YOU! Then you calm yourself down and realize it’s okay, there are other dogs in the house and he just wants to be around them. Which leads to…
You take him to the best groomer and in between those dog nightmare sessions you as well play the part of groomer, but the totally sensitive one that grooms with such ease and love and OHMYGOODNESS should I be a groomer? I bathe him once every few weeks. Sometimes, ONLY SOMETIMES, I even give him little back massages. Like he cares. SORRY I DON’T HAVE LONG NAILS TO GIVE YOU TICKLES QUIT GUILTING ME HERE’S ANOTHER TREAT.
3. YOU WALK HIM FOR HIS HEALTH, NOT YOURS
You should be leading your dog when walking. It’s great exercise for you both. And should be done multiple times daily. But use a leash? Naw, he’s good up in the forest, and sounds like a baby horse when he runs and there’s no way I’m letting a leash get in between me and my dog sounding like a baby horse running. And of course he smells everything, but my dog, he doesn’t just smell things, he smells things and finds the answers to the world and life and he smells deep. Sometimes he even smells things so hard he eats them, like a flower. Which of course leads to…
4. IF HE THROWS UP, YOU PANIC
Dogs throw up all the time, duh. I know that. But when your dog throws up, it’s like wait, what is happening here? WHY IS HE MAKING THAT AWFUL NOISE! CAN HE BREATH? You run to comfort him as if he just found out his dog cousin (I assume he has one) lost his job and on top of all that is going through a divorce. Oh and you think he’s dying now, even though within minutes he running around sniffing cat poop and taking shots of wheat grass from the ground like some sort of vegan.
5. YOU WORRY ABOUT HIS FEELINGS
This really bothers me, because I truly do believe a dog has feelings. Some days I wake up and look at him and can just tell, he’s not in a good mood. Not like grumpy or anything, just kind of, sad. Maybe it’s because yesterday when we were running in the fields, he saw a full grown poodle that look exactly like him only one thousand times bigger, and that big poodle was all snobbish like and didn’t play back. I bet his feelings are hurt about that. Or maybe it’s because some people in my family make these little duck sounding quack noises at him that really scare him big time, which means maybe when he was a tiny little puppy a group of thug ducks picked on him and he’s never forgotten and he had a bad dream about those ducks. I mean, I don’t know, maybe though right? Which makes you start to think that…
6. YOU CAN’T TELL IF THE DOG NEXT DOOR IS BULLYING HIM AND IF SO WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
Yes bullying is a serious problem. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit around a let bullying take place in my neighborhood. I know I saw that other dog give him the stink eye once, and now Max will barely go over there. I don’t think it’s like physical bullying, but I know that dog is communicating some hateful shit. Real alpha male. Does that dog think he’s better than mine? It all starts with the parents I tell you, and it’s time for me and them to sit down and have a talk about social skills, as far as I’m concerned.
7. YOU GET SEPARATION ANXIETY
Sure you can go to dinner with friends, go for drinks, even leave town for a few days. You’re cool, chill, having a good time, BUT DEEP INSIDE YOU’RE LIKE WHAT’S HE DOING WHAT’S HE DOING IS HE OKAY I WISH HE COULD TEXT ME. And it can almost even be like drunk dialing, once the night is hitting its climax and your feeling good, talking to a cute girl, and pets come up, and then you get all nostalgic about him and leave immediately to get home to him and drunkenly be like “Hey bro, you’re my best friend”… Which is basically why…
8. YOU’VE MADE MORE OF A COMMITMENT TO YOUR DOG THAN TO ANY GIRL (OR GUY)
I admit I have commitment issues, so what, so what if I do! (Sorry, ex-girlfriend commitment issues argument flashback.) But if a girl isn’t pretty much instantly jumping on the ground and letting my dog give her face kisses and just being playful and sweet, do I really want to go get sushi and drinks with her? All I’ll be thinking about the entire time if she didn’t do exactly what I wanted her to do in my head is that she is the crazy one. Would you like a little heart to go with your dragon roll you monster?!
9. YOU ALL OF SUDDEN REALIZE YOU’VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT YOUR DOG FOR 10 MINUTES STRAIGHT TO A STRANGER WITHOUT TAKING A BREATH
Yeah I might start to ramble a bit, but maybe this person likes the story about how my dog hides bones under couch cushions, or how lately I think he’s been biting his nails too often. I see you stranger, I see you praying your phone will ring any second to get you out of this, but you don’t know my dog like I do. I mean I could on for days. I could go on and on and on….
Featured imaged by David Dean, and yes that is Max