My dog, the teenager.
I have had a dog for almost two weeks, and I am trying to reconcile the nature of our relationship. I’m not my dog’s Mom, certainly, but there are elements of Mom-ness that I must incorporate into our exchanges so that everything in the house runs smoothly. Being the mother means being the foundation, the one who asks the most of those under her charge, and of course being an unwavering, unending support system. Being the mother is not always the fun job.
My dog is not my own. Sure, she lives here, but she came from somewhere else and quickly became family. I have created a nice space for her, and provide food, water, entertainment, opportunities for exercise, and everything else she could really need or want. I even sometimes give her too many treats on occasion. And when she’s here, she’s pretty content, even appreciative. She expresses that appreciation with kisses and wags…those are good moments. Sometimes she’s off on her own in her own space and I’m in mine and that’s totally okay, too.
It’s when we’re out in the world that we’re having a little trouble. Now, mind you, I have a really good dog. We are lucky, or blessed, or whatever you want to call it, but on the whole we have a very good natured dog who mostly does things really right. I have been told I should praise her in all those many moments, but I am lazy about that part of it. I take the good stuff for granted. It’s foolish, I know, and I’m working on it.
When my dog is outside, all she wants to do is experience new things, new smells, new people, and it is sometimes hard for me to hold her back. Truthfully, I am still confused about when I’m supposed to keep her right by my side and when I can let her explore. I want her to have these new experiences, but I don’t want her to get hurt. Especially not on my watch. Being outside can be exhausting for both of us, because we are each trying to get our own way, while maintaining a level of respect one for the other. It’s mentally tiring, but necessary. Outside is where we learn.
Being responsible for my dog’s start in this new life is an awesome responsibility and it’s not something I want to mess up. However, I don’t want every exchange we have to be all business…I so want us to enjoy each other during this limited time we’re together. Often, it ends up being about me teaching her how to do things rather than about our shared experience. It’s all carrot and stick and no sweetness. I find everyone else in the house gets to be the ‘fun one’, playing with toys and just in general being the people she is happiest to see. I am the enforcer, and though I try to be kind about it, she knows that tone in my voice and knows where she stands. We are not designed to be equals, though we can sometimes be friends.
My dog listens to my voice and responds to it, and I understand that she always will. We bonded pretty quickly, right there in the first few seconds when we met. But sometimes she wants to go one way and I want her to go the other. I’m not sure how it will all resolve, but I imagine that time will be an important part of it. Until then, I am enjoying those cuddly moments of my dog under my roof. Watching her sleeping in her bed is still one of my favorite things in the world, and I love watching her do so many new and amazing things. She is a really good dog, and more importantly, she’s mine.