We did this because Birdie is easy to walk and Boogie can sometimes be a challenge. So we played ball with Boogie in the yard, to exercise him and make him happy, then we roped up the Bird and headed out for a stroll around town.
We encountered a loose dog, a pissed off dog that was tied up in front of his house and barking expletives at us, a gang of off leash kids running to church (Easter morning), and a million other things that would have been a challenge if we had been with Boogie.
We would have had to manage him around the kids, because that would have scared him, the off leash dogs would have forced us to do u-turns, and the cursing pooch would have required some finesse to pass without a return F-bomb from Boogie. A lot of work.
But he was at home and we had Birdie instead. Birdie is not phased by much of anything, so neither were we. It was…relaxing.
Every single dog I walk is reactive. All day, every day, I’m on guard while I dog walk. So once in a while, I like to take a walk with Birdie and try to remember what it’s like to walk a non-reactive dog. Whenever I do, I’m always struck by how incredibly easy it is!
It also helps me to understand the “others” – you know – the MDIFs. Some of them really have NO idea what we’re dealing with – and that’s why they never really get why we’re running in the ocean to escape their dogs.
But that’s not why I’m writing this. I’m writing this because I want to tell you that it’s totally ok to leave your dog at home sometimes. It’s ok to take your easy dog for a walk or to the pet store or to the strip club and leave your more challenging dog at home some times.
Look, we all need a break. Working with our dogs can be really exhausting, sometimes scary (if you encounter a lot of loose dogs), and can suck all the fun out of having a dog. So it’s cool to take a day off, you feel me?
I used to feel bad about doing this. It always had to be both dogs or nothing. But then I got over it and I’m way happier. Judging by some of your emails and Facebook comments, a lot of you feel really guilty about doing this sort of thing.
So, if it helps, I hereby declare: It’s ok to Treat. Yo. Self.
Choosing to go for an easy, relaxing walk with your other dog or leaving both dogs at home, so you can take your time browsing for that perfect cable knit sweater at the dog boutique or whatever it is that you want to do and not be stressed – doing those things doesn’t make you a bad dog owner.
Want to know a secret? Your dogs told me they sleep the whole time you’re out sneaking around behind their backs. Mostly, they’re sniffing for crumbs, napping, licking their paws and leaving wet spots on your side of the couch, and napping. They are not writing in their journals about how abandoned or rejected they feel when you leave them behind. Promise.
Seriously, your dogs love you. They’re really psyched that you love them so much. They really appreciate the food and soft bed and fun toys and the training you’ve been doing with them. They think you’re the bees knees, even when you’re picking up another dog’s poop. And they really want you to be happy. Happy people keep their dogs.
You guys are working hard. Really hard. Please don’t feel guilty or naughty for taking a break.
So go on and Treat. Yo. Self.
Look, even the kids at Parks and Recreation have your back: