Every weekday, my alarm goes off to the tune of some theme song to an 00’s movie; right now that song is Perfect Day by Hoku…if it was good enough for Elle Woods, it’s good enough for us. I hit snooze and immediately start debating with myself the pros and cons of going to work. “How many sick days do you still have? Do you have anything due? When was your last day off? What if you quit today? How important is it to have health insurance? How long could I survive on my savings without an income? How many weeks of Theo’s food could I afford? Does he really need the fancy food with dried salmon bits? Why are bullysticks so expensive?” The alarm goes off again, and slowly but surely, I make my way to the office where I talk about Theo the way my coworkers talk about their children.
I work in a field that is built almost entirely on building trusting relationships with people. While the pet/human relationship is a unique one, it is still a relationship, and one that can easily become strained when half of it isn’t present for large chunks of the day. I’ve found many of the same tools I use at work to form relationships with people are the same tools I use at home with Theo.
I know, I know. You’re all thinking “is this psycho actually having conversations with her dog?” and the answer is yes, but we all have our own ways of communicating with our dogs. So maybe you aren’t sitting down and explaining every morning that you’re leaving and they need to try to not eat your bathmats while you’re gone, but I’ll bet you two have figured out a way to understand each other. Take the time to get to know what it means when he stomps his paw, and in turn he will learn that the curling iron means business. There is an obvious language barrier here, but that shouldn’t get in the way of trying to understand what they need, and in turn communicating what you need.
Practice makes perfect! From my alarm, to the time I leave, the time I come home, and the time we go to sleep…we are a machine. Theo gets fed at the same time every day, and does his business at the same times every day. This was a game changer when it came time to try leaving him out of his crate during the day. In exchange for him holding his bladder during the day, I owe it to him to make sure I come home on time to take him out. Try creating and keeping to a routine. This will manage your dog’s expectations every day. We don’t have accidents, we don’t have escape attempts, and we don’t have barking for help once I close the door.
This was the big one for me, and probably for most dog parents. It works both ways, sacrificing time with your dog to make sure you have a successful career, and sacrificing your social life to make sure you have a happy and healthy dog. You are held accountable from all angles because you are responsible for more than just yourself. You can’t quit your job to hang out with your dog because he needs food. You can’t go out for drinks after work with your friends because your dog has been waiting for you to come home since the moment you left. Set your priorities, know your limitations and remind yourself that there is a very adorable wiggling butt waiting for you.
No relationship is perfect. Sometimes Theo has accidents, and sometimes I get held up at the office and need to call my neighbor to let Theo out. Sometimes I come home to a crazy dog who chewed all of my bathmats and wants to run around for 8 more hours, and sometimes I come home to wiggles and a dog who just wants to cuddle and make up for lost time during the day. Sometimes I get frustrated that I can’t just go out for tacos after work, but most of the time I’m just excited to leave my desk at the end of the day and go home to my dog.
How do you balance working with a dog? Let us know your best tips in the comments.