By Anon Dog Owner, London.
I’m sure the good Dr Hannah would be quick to tell all new pet owners that separation anxiety is a very normal part of the pet ownership process. And I can vouch for that.
The first time I left our precious Piddly Puppy to go to work was particularly bad.
The crying and howling could be heard for miles.
I eventually stopped by the time I got to work.
The dog? Well, he’s clearly made of tougher stuff. But when it comes to pet ownership I probably fall into the ‘highly-loved-up-and-slightly-anxious’ category.
In fact, forget helicopter parents – I’m the Apache Gunship of pet owners. Take the first time I ever handed the Piddly Pup over to a professional dog walker:
Me: “So, where will you take him?”
Dog walker: “Oh, maybe to Roundwood Park.”
Me: “Isn’t that quite a long way away?”
Dog walker: “It’s only two minutes in the van. The other dogs love it there.”
Me: “Other dogs? There’ll be other dogs?”
Dog walker: “Yes. Your dog is about to make some doggy friends!”
Me: “Oh. But are they nice dogs?”
Dog walker: “Er, yes…as nice as dogs can be I guess?”
Me: “They won’t be mean to my dog will they?”
Dog walker: “Ah, no. None of these dogs are…mean.”
Me: “It’s just that he’s such a little fellow.”
Dog walker: “Don’t worry. The dogs just like having fun in the water together.”
Me: “Water? There’ll be water? But I don’t know if my dog can swim?”
Dog walker: “Ah, pretty sure most dogs can swim. It’s kind of natural for them.”
Me: “But I’ve never seen him swim before…”
Dog walker: “Don’t worry. I’ll get him back to you in one piece. Time to go. ”
Dog walker: “What?”
Me: “You won’t lose him, will you?”
Dog walker: “No, but I’ve lots of treats just to be sure. We’ll be back soon.”
Dog walker: “What?”
Me: “So you’re sure he’ll come to you when you call him.”
Dog walker: “Yes. I’m sure. Now, we really must go.”
Dog walker: <sighs> “Now what? I mean…yes?”
Me: “Just one more thing…can I give him one last pat?”
For the next hour or so I nervously watched the clock, biting my nails and catastrophising all kinds of doggy drowning disasters in my head. Of course, eventually he came home, with his wet tail wagging happily after his big adventure.
So the moral of this tale? Well, personally I think it’s better to be a ‘highly-loved-up-and-slightly-anxious’ pet owner than one who doesn’t care at all.
But I’m also learning that a little trust can go a long way.