Wednesday, August 25

Mission: Be a better dog mom

Published On Wenesday August, 04 2010

Trey Anthony
Special to the Star
If I thought there was a chance that my dog might read this, I would never ever write this.

I've never been a dog person. I'm even surprised that I have a dog! Yet, in one of those stupid lovey dovey moments with my partner, I decided to accept a cream colour bundle of fluff that we affectionately called Samara. We promised that the dog would bind us to each other for eternal life and we would never ever break up!

Six months later I was partnerless and two chocolate brown eyes stared up at me, questioning if I had a clue what I had just signed up for. And that's how dog life started with Samara and me.

I worry about Samara and all of my inner conflicts play out with her and are magnified. I worry that she might get fat, and what her fatness would say about me as an owner. When the other dogs don't play with her in the dog park, I think she may lack social skills or maybe she has really bad doggy breath.

I constantly compare myself to other doggie mommies. One encounter with a friend who's one of those “crazy dog people” left me feeling that sooner or later someone was going to turn me in for being a lousy dog mom. My friend who has two dogs revealed to me that she cooked all of her dog's meals, organic meats and brown rice. Lovely. She also baked them their own treats!

I was grateful that Samara would never know anything about the dog life she really should be leading.

Had I let Samara down by giving her plain old chicken-and-rice dry food?

And treats? When I remembered to buy them, they were usually on sale or if she was lucky enough, a piece of my peanut butter sandwich. Who has time to bake treats? Some people really don't have a life. I tried to conceal my bitterness at my friend's obvious doggy hierarchy and smiled weakly.

However, she decided to kick me while I was down, revealing that she took her dogs out for 45 minutes three times a day. Separately, so they could have one on one time with her. My guilt played out as I recalled Samara's hurried walks packed between my need to write, attend meetings, go out to theatre, check Facebook, pick up groceries or watch Oprah.

I wanted Samara to be able to brag about me some day to her friends in the doggy park. A change was on the horizon.

My mission was to be a better dog mommy, a decision that changed Samara's life and my own. First, better dog food. As I became more conscious of the food that I was giving Samara I also became more aware of the junk that I was putting into my own body. I started reading labels more. I bought more fruits and vegetables, and started eating more salads

I scheduled a veterinary appointment for Samara. I then promptly booked a physical for myself. I figured I didn't want to kick the bucket before Samara.

I scheduled longer walks and cut out Oprah. These walks gave me time to think and be in the moment. I started to appreciate the morning air, birds flying, butterflies singing... you get my point.

On one of our walks I discovered a small deserted park with a set of swings. I haven't been on a swing in about 25 years so I jumped on. It was so liberating. Samara looked at me like I had just lost my mind and started barking and nipping my ankles.

I also threw in some patience. I vowed I would give Samara the time to stop and sniff nearly every blade of grass that she came across. I would not pull on her leash or tap my foot impatiently. I then applied the act of patience in my own life as I tried to be more patient with others and myself.

I also decided to love her more, really love her, like I wanted to be loved. With patience, kindness and appreciation. No more “Miss Critical.” This big love spilled over to myself. As I spoke lovingly to Samara and appreciated her efforts to be a good dog, I used that same voice to validate my attempts to being a good human.

I also learned to cuddle with her. I learned that I liked having her close by, I liked having her count on me, and I learned that I loved having her around because she is always happy to see me.

Most of all I love having someone who thinks I'm the best even if I still give them discounted treats.