As a side effect of moving back home after college and watching my parents’ dog while they are at work all day, I have developed a rather unhealthy relationship with our family pet. At first I didn’t realize that my dog being my main source of socialization yielded some unnatural results. However, I have finally come to terms with the recent changes in my life because of her, and have listed them here for all those who also have an abnormal relationship with their pet. (This could also be applied to cats, birds, fish, or whatever kind of animal companionship you prefer.)
1. Greeting your pet in the morning as if they are the love of your life.
Owners who adore their pets know how exciting it can be wake up to their beautiful ball of fur in the morning. I’m sure overbearing pet owners everywhere can relate to this typical scene that transpires after seeing our babies upon waking:
Dog: *Lazily tilts head in my direction, thumps tail up and down a few times, gets up and scampers over to me (if I’m lucky), goes back to sleep (usually)*
Me: “Good morning, baby! Oooh look at you, you precious creature! You sure got your beauty sleep tonight! I love you so much! You are the best dog in the world and I am SO LUCKY to be your owner. You are so adorable; I just want to eat you up!” *Scoops up terrified creature, sticks my face in hers, makes sounds as if I’m literally devouring the poor thing*
Dog: *Looks at me as if she’s frightened that I will actually eat her, squirms and makes slight growling noise until I release her, then proceeds to scurry away*
Me: “PSHH, fine, I didn’t want to hang out with you this morning anyway. It’s cool, I’ll just eat breakfast all alone. Don’t worry about me.”
After our morning fight we make up like a real (human) couple, then proceed with our morning bonding activities (me eating breakfast and describing to her the dream I just had where she marries Air Bud and has bionic puppies).
2. Telling your dog about your problems.
Since you rarely see your friends anymore and it’s essential you tell some living thing about the daily happenings of your life, your dog has the unfortunate luck of becoming the new target of your venting and complaining.
Me: “OMG you’ll never guess what happened to me today. I got in the shower and there was NO CONDITIONER LEFT. Isn’t that awful? So then I just used a ton of leave-in conditioner and rinsed it out. I know that’s wasteful, you don’t have to look at me like that. Gosh.”
Dog: *Stares blankly*
Me: “Want to know what other horrible thing occurred today?”
Dog: *Continues staring*
Me: “Well, since you must know, Dan didn’t text me back but Dylan did so now I don’t know what to do… I mean I really have this great spiritual connection with Dan, you know? I don’t just want to give up and go for Dylan… Although I hear his church choir is BANGIN’ on Sunday mornings… Ughhh it’s tough being a human, be thankful that your biggest dilemma is choosing where to take your daily naps, you lucky bitch.”
3. Then proceeding to ask your dog for advice on your crucial life dilemmas.
Fortunately for your pet, they have no idea what you’re saying. Unfortunately for you, they aren’t capable of giving advice on your oh-so-important life complications. So, the obvious solution is to answer your pet according to what you know they would say if they had the correct type of vocal cords.
Me: “So what do you think I should do??”
Dog: *Starts looking around (probably planning an exit route to get out of being the unfair focus of my daily rants)*
Me: “You know what? You’re totally right. I love Dan and should just be a good girl and wait for him to text me. But what if he doesn’t?? Then what am I supposed to do!?”
Dog: *Finally gets up and starts to wander away*
Me: “You are so right again! He’ll text me, I know he will. I’ll just wait. You give the best advice ever even though you can’t relate to human problems, has anyone ever told you that?”
4. Asking for your dog’s opinion on its daily activities.
Since you ultimately have complete control over your dog’s whereabouts and goings-on, it’s only polite that you get their input on how they want to spend their time. Maybe Roxy doesn’t want to you to paint her nails today, but how would you ever know? The only logical solution is to ask them, of course.
Me: “Soooo I was thinking maybe we’d hit up the park today and look for a nice furry man-friend for you, what do you say?”
Dog: *Doesn’t acknowledge that a conversation is in the works*
Me: “Okay, okay, I get it. You’re an independent canine who don’t need no man. That’s cool. Hmmm, we could cuddle and watch Lifetime movies all day then go get ice cream later. I heard The Scoop has deeelicious doggy cones. Does that sound better?”
Dog: *Wags tail*
Me: “Lifetime and ice cream it is! Oooh look, The Craigslist Killer is on, what a fabulous movie. I’ve already seen it but we can watch it again because I’m considerate and I know you want to see it. To be honest, I didn’t want to go to the park either. Who needs men when we’ve got each other?
5. When you do interact with other humans and they ask what you’ve been up to, you talk about your dog as if he/she is your S.O.
Nothing is more awkward than going to social gatherings and having distant relatives or quasi-friends interrogate you about your love/school/work/social life. Well, uh, when the highlight of your day is tying a chew toy to your leg and running around your house while your dog chases you, you don’t have much to work with in terms of dishing out exciting and satisfying answers. So, instead, you talk about your dog as if they are the light of your life and your only source of happiness (which they basically are)
Your second cousin, once removed, named Sherry: “OHHH MY GOSHHH look at you! I haven’t seen you since I babysat you that one time your mom went to a Prince concert… Ahh, good times. Anyway, how have you been!? What have you been up to? How’s school? Work? Do you have a boyfriend!?”
Me: “Uhhh hi! I’m good… Just living life, you know. We just got a puppy! And OMG she is so cute. But a pain in the ass. Yesterday, she chewed up not only a pair of my shoes, but my autographed Brittney Spears CD from 2004! I was piiiissed, but then she started sprinting around the house with its remains in her mouth and it was just so dang adorable that I couldn’t help but join in on the fun and forgive her. Then, we took a nap and watched Parks and Recreation for like, three hours. She is such a cuddler, you have no idea. She snores, though, but when that happens I usually just plug her nose until she freaks out and wakes up and then I pretend to be asleep. Hahaha!” *Maniacally laughs*
Sherry: *Fake smiling and nodding* Aw how nice. So how’s everything else in your life? Do tell!!!
Me: “Umm… Well, you know. It’s good…” *Racks brain for something interesting to tell about life but comes up with nothing that doesn’t involve the dog. Can’t think of anything and proceeds to smile, nod, and hope this awkward-as-hell conversation is close to being over*
Sherry: “Oh. Well it’s been good seeing you!” *Forces a smile and walks away, no doubt thinking my life is a train wreck and my mother has failed at raising me*
6. When out being social, you can’t help but wonder how your dog is doing and can’t wait to go home and be reunited.
Yes, the main reason it’s difficult for you to come up with something of substance to discuss during these horrific encounters is because your life mainly revolves around your pet. However, another reason is that while these conversations are taking place, your mind is imagining all the possible scenarios that could happen to your dog at that exact moment, who you neglectfully left home all alone so you could go out and have some good ole social fun.
Typical thoughts that occur during social encounters that mimic the Sherry situation: “I wonder how my baby is doing… She’s been good lately home alone but what if she gets really depressed this time and eats something out of sadness and CHOKES ON IT AND DIES?? Oh God… Did I forget to push in the chairs? What if she jumps up on one then goes onto the table and falls off and breaks her neck!? Oh my God, I’m a terrible owner. What if the dog equivalent of Child Services gets called on me and I get arrested for pet neglect and they take my baby away??? Man, this socialization idea was not a good one. If my girl is still alive when I get home I’m going to apologize to her for abandoning her tonight and give her ten treats. And an ear massage. I may even let her sleep on the good side of the bed tonight, if she’s lucky.”
Finally, after you feel as if you’ve maxed out faked socialness, you drive at the speed of light home, throw open your door, and yell out, “Momma’s here to save you, sweetie!!! Oh God, please be alive… I’m so sorry for leaving you!!! PLEASE FORGIVE ME!”
After running around the house, you finally locate your beloved pet, who is fast asleep in your bed, 100% alive and well.
You think: “PHEW I was lucky this time. That was close. Never again will I go out with people when I could be snuggling with my little baby.”
Dogs (and other pets) love you unconditionally and their constant excitement when they see you make you feel as if you are the most important person on the Earth. And, well, humans don’t always do that. So, instead of carrying around guilt that your dog knows more about you than any person you know, EMBRACE your puppy’s love, excitement, listening skills, advice, entertainment, and companionship. And make sure not to leave out any grapes while out attempting to salvage your deteriorating social life.