As a dog owner, you have invited your pet into your life. As a human, you have full power and control over your dog: its food, shelter, learning, health, happiness. Your dog depends on you for everything.
The control you have over your dog’s life, and its complete and total dependence on you, reminds us of the quote, “with great power comes great responsibility” (attributed to various sources through time and place). That responsibility brings with it a duty to adapt and compromise: for your dog’s sake, well-being, and spirit.
I was reminded of this compromise recently after leaving my job, and taking up full-time existence at my home. Oddly, I felt like I was intruding on my dog’s space. With my full-time job, I haven’t been at home all day every day with my dog for it’s entire life, up until this point. And, for the first couple of weeks, Juno was quite clear in reminding me of that fact.
In certain ways, I was treading on her turf, on her time, her space and existence, disrupting her daily patterns and routines as I rebuilt my own.
My drumming, for example, a distraction that helps me think, tended to wake her up, prompting her to trot on over to me and nudge the backs of my legs, as if to say, “well, you’ve got me up now, are we heading out somewhere?” Which put me in the position of settling her back down to sleep again, since it was not yet her typical wake-up time of 3-4pm, and I still had stuff to get done.
The same drumming-induced wake-up doesn’t usually happen on weekends during the day, so I could only assume she knew there was a difference between my usual presence on the weekends and new presence during the weekdays.
I also realized I left books in “her” space on the couch, obstructing her favourite nap spot, or on the couch arm, blocking “her” view out the window.
Her response would be to side-eye me with irritation, huff, moan, or grumble, or simply walk up to me, sit down and stare at me until I figured out what was up and that I should do something about it.
In general, she was waking up earlier for walks, becoming restless at my general noise and presence in the house. Phone calls and hearing conversations might as well have been a clock radio alarm for her. Again, all were things that don’t typically affect Juno on weekends, but were having a big impact on her with me at home during the week.
Of course, I should have remembered Danielle’s posts about working at home with a dog and changes in routine during the back-to-school time of year. But in this case, I had introduced a change, and she was letting me know it.
I suppose, as owner, I could have insisted she quiet down, go back to sleep, and stay settled until I was ready to quit working for the day and had some time for her: after all, she was used to (not by her choice) being alone all day until we humans got home from work.
Instead, her behaviour reminded me of the interplay of our human space with our dog’s space. She was saying, “hey, a little respect here, please!” She was right.
And why not roll with it? After all, I missed my dog while being away from her all day while working at my office job. Truth be told, I had a nagging sense of guilt the whole time I was working: we’d taken on an active, sociable dog, and spent huge amounts of time away from her. Real world demands, sure, but still not ideal.
Juno was having to adjust, and so would I.
I made a point of doing more training and interacting with her during the day. I took her out for walks when she woke up. Had her do some different things with me around the house: if I had to grab something from the basement, I invited her to go along with me. Simple things, but reminders for her that she wasn’t being overlooked, and was a part of the routine change that was going on.
And that’s why we get dogs in the first place. We want them to be part of our lives, and we want to be part of theirs. A few weeks on, and we’re now settled nicely into our new co-routine.
And if I get too engrossed in writing, I have Juno to remind me.
Let us know in the comments about your routine changes with your dogs.
And, as always, thanks for reading. We’re glad to have you with us.