This dog owner has a confession to make: I feel guilty leaving my dog at home. Is this normal? Do other dog owners feel the same? I have some soul searching to do.
Where did this guilt come from?
Our family has always had a dog. With a large family, the dog was always in company. When my sister and I became teenagers and had busier schedules, my Mom was usually at home. We never felt that the dog was lacking attention or care. No matter what, there was someone available to take care of the dog’s needs and wants. That was so reassuring.
A single guy and his dog
When I adopted Buffy, a black and tan coonhound, I was a single guy living alone. The dog was great company and I’ve always wanted one of my own. But I began to worry. Would she be okay home alone when I went to work? How about when I went out?
I began to feel guilty. At first, it was because she was a puppy and needed to be house trained. A puppy’s undeveloped bladder necessitated frequent walks. Even as she got older, I still worried about her bathroom needs when I was away from her.
At work, I would force myself to not think about Buffy being alone. I would rush home to walk her and give her some attention.
I began to feel this sadness and guilt when I was away from her. I remember a shopping trip to the outlets out on Long Island. I went with some friends and had a great time. But Buffy kept creeping into my head, and the guilt would arise. It didn’t help that we got home late. Buffy was fine, but I still felt badly.
Get a Life
I went to visit a friend of mine, who lives about an hour from me. I organized it so that I went to see her early in the morning and planned to leave after lunch. She wanted me to stay for dinner, but I couldn’t because Buffy was home. She was my responsibility – one that I chose.
While my friend sympathized, she told me to get over it. Dogs have no real sense of time, she told me. I needed to get a life! Deep down, I knew that she spoke the truth.
My guilt and attachment to Buffy provides great stuff for psychologists. Why is this young man so attached to his dog? Why the feelings of guilt? Is it because he has so much compassion and love for this animal? Or is he using the excuse of taking care of the dog for other subconscious reasons?
These are all excellent questions, but I have no answers. All I know is that I only feel okay leaving Buffy when I know there is someone to watch over her. Maybe I need to find some dog visiting service in the future. For now, working from home has its advantages. I get to make my own schedule and I can be with the dog. In the meantime, I try to get over my guilt by focusing on the fact that Buffy is healthy, happy, walked every day, and even sleeps on my bed.
I suppose this is what being a queen’s servant feels like.