We got Bailey, our Golden Lab/Retriever mix, two years ago this month. Since then, he has become like our third child. So I decided it was time to start being a bad mother to him as well. After all, I didn't want him to feel left out, comparing himself to his brothers Ben and Jacob all the time.
To do this, I accepted a volunteer position at my local library for two mornings a week. To keep things fair (after all, the children came first), I sent the children back to school yesterday, after a 10-day vacation, but I didn't make Bailey suffer until today. After a brisk walk with my neighbor and his Beagle, with whom Bailey is good buddies, I brought Bailey inside, changed into work clothes and left for three hours.
He may have taken this as a personal insult, as I usually spend my days with him in the house. If I'm up and down the stairs doing laundry, he shadows me. If I am working on the computer, he sleeps curled up against the heater right behind my chair. Heaven help him when I go to the bathroom, because he seems convinced that there is another exit from the house in there; he cries and whines relentlessly from the time I close the door until he can see me again.
But my dog doesn't handle insults the way some do. Other dogs might pee on the furniture, lay on my bed or rip up my tablecloth while I was gone. Not Bailey. Bailey instead becomes very insecure. (Clearly there is no cat DNA in him.) First, he took the doggie pillow he sleeps on and twisted it up by swinging it around with his mouth. Then he humped it across the room. (Don't ask me how I know this. You'll just have to trust me.) After that he dragged his wool blanket downstairs to the front door. And finally, when I got back home, he ran and brought two different toys to me before I had even taken off my coat.
What is the answer? Quit the job? Doggie Prozac? I say nay to both. Call me selfish, but for the first time in over a decade, I'm going to relish the feeling of being fully appreciated, sorely missed and warmly welcomed when I come home. I'll reassure him by playing catch with him and taking him for a walk, and I'll give him lots of attention.
And then I'll throw throw his doggie bed in the wash.