Macaulay Culkin was hilarious in the movie “Home Alone,” but it’s not so much fun for dogs to stay home alone or for their owners to return and find the house in various stages of destruction by chewing. Unfortunately, the majority of dog parents have to go to work everyday and must leave their dogs home and often alone. If they’re lucky, they live close enough to go home for lunch and let the dog out and spend a few quality moments together. I was able to do that for the first two and a half years of my dog Sadie’s life. I really looked forward to seeing her and taking a walk at lunch…it made the work day fly by. Then I was even luckier to be able to work from home and have her with me all the time for about two years. When I accepted a new job she was so used to me being home with her it was a traumatic ordeal for both of us. What I don’t understand though is people who leave dogs alone at home when it isn’t necessary.
Dogs are pack animals…they love to be with people and involved in the family activities. It makes me sad to hear two big dogs in my neighborhood barking in their basement on the weekends. Sure, both of their human parents work during the week, but on the weekend, why not include the dogs in the activities? I remember when I read the Ten Commandments for Dog Owners. One of the commandments in the version that I read was: ”Please limit your time away from me. You have your job, your friends; I have only you.”
When I read that, it hit me right in the heart and it’s stayed there ever since. I didn’t miss going out for office lunches because Sadie was home and she depended on me. My mantra with my friends became…”love me…love my dog.” If she wasn’t welcome, it was ok, and if I really wanted to go I could get someone to keep her company, but as time went on I found I preferred to be with her…she had only me.
If you didn’t want to make a dog a part of your life and activities, you shouldn’t have gotten one. I am perhaps guilty of extreme dog parenting, but I simply find it difficult to enjoy myself if my dog is not with me knowing she misses me. It constantly runs through my mind, this might be an hour or two for me to be away from Sadie, but her life is ticking by at seven times the speed of mine and that makes me eager to return to her.
I wish I worked for one of the many dog-friendly companies in the United States, but I don’t so she spends her days at Camp Critter Creek. The distance of our new house from my job makes it impossible for me to get home for lunch, and Sadie’s separation anxiety makes staying alone a miserable experience. Camp Critter Creek was our solution and is such a blessing. Sadie also stays there overnight when I absolutely have to go somewhere without her. She visits a trusted friend for shopping and other errands that would require her to stay in the car. I trust Patty and her staff; they have a love for dogs that is evident in the way the care for Sadie and other dogs and cats.
On weekends, I plan things we both can enjoy. Hiking, trips to the Farmer’s Market, eating out at restaurants with patios, shopping together at stores that welcome well-behaved dogs or going to yard sales. We go to outdoor events and festivals that welcome dogs and sometimes go into Charleston for a walk through our old neighborhood.
Our best weekend activity though after a week at work and day care is just being home. Sadie watches as I work in my garden. She patrols the bird feeders for squirrel thieves and chases them away. We love being out on our large deck where we often eat and Sadie dries in the sun after her baths. We play catch and tug of war and any number of other silly games with her toys. Sadie supervises as I sew rips in the stuffed animals that were played with too roughly. Then she inventories her toy box to make sure everything is replaced. She snuggles under my desk when I write and looks forward to the extra walks in the morning. We are comfortable and content at our house in the woods on the weekends in particular, because Monday comes way too soon and back out to the world we both go. Enjoying the companionship of my dog is one of the greatest joys of my life.
When I adopted Sadie I took the promises I made seriously to care for her, provide for her, and to keep her. When I hear Sadie sigh befoe she goes to sleep at night, it’s a contented sigh and I smile knowing she had a good day and that I played some part in making that happen.Think about how much time you leave your dog alone and how much of that time is really necessary. Zig Ziglar said…”Spend time with those you love. One of these days you’ll either say; I’m glad I did, or I wish I had.” If you love your dog, think about it and the next time you go for the door, if you don’t have to, don’t go out alone.