A Dog’s Unconditional Love
Updated: May 9
I am not sure about everyone else, but I tend to worry, and about A LOT of things. The things that fill my mind tend to be outcomes that may not happen, I have no control over or has no bearing on my day to day life. In fact, I believe I am Worrier-In-Chief for my family. As I have gotten older, the uncertainties seem to be endless.
Once I became a parent, I took on thoughts of my child’s welfare Is he healthy? Is he making friends? Is he developing into a compassionate and empathetic human being? Is he safe? As my son grew older, the worries became bigger How’s his driving? Is he using his phone while behind the wheel? Are his friends good kids? How are his grades? Will he get into the college of his choice? This past summer, our son traveled ALONE to South America, participating in a Spanish Immersion and Community Service program. Am I crazy for allowing him to go? By himself? He had to take 3 flights, go through Customs, meet with his group
My distresses are not just about my child, as they run the gamut. I worry about my parents, my job, my health, my husband’s job, his health and so on. The worries and stressors are infinite, and at times, I’ll admit to having a have a few sleepless nights. I realize that many of my own reservations are absurd, self-induced and unwarranted. For a person who suffers from anxiety, managing borderline dark thoughts is easier said than done.
At no time though did I ever think that my beloved dog Sadie, would love and adore someone as much as, if not more than her puppy parent – me! I came to this realization after I picked Sadie up at the dog sitter’s house, where she was a welcomed guest for 10 days. In my head I imagined she thoroughly enjoyed playing with the sitter’s children, wrestled with their dogs, and leisurely hung out in their fenced in backyard.
When I picked my girl up, I was confident Sadie would be overjoyed to see me by running, yelping and begging to be picked up. Much to my surprise, the handoff was completely uneventful. After all, she was overtired, and had many more distractions than at home. I was prepared to hear Sadie’s frantic and incessant high pitch cluck. Her squeals are both humorous and piercing, and happen when she is reunited with her loved ones. My ears were primed for her squeal, and it just didn’t happen. Needless to say, I was surprised and a little disappointed. The next day, her level of excitement hadn’t returned, she slept a good amount and ultimately hid under my bed, never giving me the greeting and affection I was looking for. Both my husband and I thought she was just worn out or worse, depressed.
The thought that my sweet Sadie, found another home and caregiver she liked better was a little surprising. The sense that I’ve been replaced was never on my radar. The lightbulb moment happened when I took Sadie on our evening constitutional around the block. On such walks, we routinely pass the Sitter's house. As we rounded the corner and walked up the street, Sadie’s breathing quickened, her huffs and puffs grew increasingly louder and she literally took the lead and pulled me directly towards the Sitter's backyard. Sadie must have sensed some activity in the backyard oasis. The sitter's dogs started barking once they saw Sadie, the Sitter looked over at us, and were waved over. Once we entered the back yard and Sadie’s leash was removed, Sadie stood on her hind legs, willing her caregiver to pick her up. On cue, Sadie was lovingly plucked up. At that moment I knew the deal was sealed, and Sadie's hierarchy of caregiver and my standing with her was clearly questionable. I realize a dog's love is unconditional, and while I might feel wounded about my dog ignoring me, I am thankful for the great love and care she receives at her second home.
That very same night, my son came home from work, and wanted to hang out with me and talk. About nothing in particular, and really everything. My insecurities about not being needed, were once again, unfounded.
Now that a few weeks has passed since we saw the dog sitter, my status with Sadie is back to normal. She gets excited to see me after a long day at work, or when I put my sneakers on to take her for a walk. I realize a dog’s love is unconditional, and while I might have felt a little wounded that my dog was ignoring me, I am beyond thankful for the great love and care she receives at her second home. Lately, she jumps up next to me when I am sitting on the couch, turns her head in such a way where she is literally begging me with her eyes to pet her. She knows when it is time for me to put my phone down and be present. Her eyes tell me she needs me.