The guilt of owning a dog

6 CommentsThursday, 12 July 2018  |  Kate

I’ve just come off the beach. It’s 6.30am on a Thursday and Nikita and I have walked 2 miles along the sand and back, now we’re heading home.

She’s sniffed at the seaweed on the wooden groynes, chased a few seagulls who were off their game and peed on all the important pebbles. But mostly she’s simply plodded along behind me (she’s mostly collie and likes to know where everyone is) while I meander from sandy bit to sandy bit, avoiding the slippery rocky patches.

The only time I saw her truly come to life is when we met a Westie with a tennis ball stuffed in its mouth running up and down the sand. Suddenly, Nikita’s tail was up and she was bolting over the stones to chase her new friend. This play lasted approximately 30 seconds, then it was back to plodding as the Westie headed east.

And I just felt a massive stab of guilt. Not for the first time today and definitely not the last, that I am not giving my dog the life she wants, or deserves.

Does anyone else feel like this?

It’s got to be worse than having a child because, let’s face it, after the age of three a child can pretty much tell you what they like and don’t like. What floats their little three year old boat. But a dog never can.

Yes, there’s body language but I’m not about to go and get Nikita a ‘friend’ of her own to chase on the beach, because my lovely friend Debbie (trainer and behaviourist) assures me she would hate it. That she’s quite happy being an only dog, and feels safe sleeping all day on my bed.

Indeed, it doesn’t matter who’s in the house, Nikita likes to sleep on my bed, ignoring the lot of us. When I’m away and my friend Heather comes to stay (who Nikita adores) she largely ignores her too, until she hears the sound of the fridge opening

I cook my dog’s food for her, look after her teeth, make sure she doesn’t get fleas or worms, walk her at least twice a day, every day. When I’m not able to the fab Jolene comes and takes her out, sometimes for two hours. She gets a raw bone for entertainment, sometimes she wants it, sometimes not.

We go for great sniffs in the cemetery, long walks up on the downs and on the beach. As I mentioned before she sleeps on my bed most of the time, unless I’m in it then she huffs off to the sofa.

So why do I feel such guilt? Is this just how we feel when we own a pet, because we do own them. Their happiness and wellbeing is in our hands.

Who else feels the guilt? Leave me a comment and tell me all about it.

Sunday, 15 July 2018  |  16:25

Hi Kate,I love reading your blog and your books but this post has hit a nerve this afternoon.We have 2 very well looked after Gordon Setters who are probably spoilt.I say we but sadly my husband passed away In march.My problem is that our bitch who was the love of my husbands life is really not right since he died.She has had urine infections her skin condition has got worse and generally is just sad.Ihave had her checked by our vet who is really lovely with her and said basically she is ok medically but she is grieving and it will take time.I just feel useless for her ,i can help the children by talking with them ,just wish she could talk.
Our big dog is ok as he has become my protector in his mind which brings other problems when we out walking
but I can deal with him .
Thank you for listening

Tuesday, 17 July 2018  |  10:01

Hi Annie

I'm so sorry, what a horrible time you must be having.

The vet is right of course. Pets do grieve, give her some time and she'll come good.

As for you, I hope you're taking care of yourself as well as you appear to be doing with everyone else.

Lots of love Kate xxx

Ann Dodd
Monday, 30 July 2018  |  16:58

Thanks Kate, yes I am looking after myself to a point.
Hopefully Lettie will settle down in time

Susan Redshaw
Sunday, 16 September 2018  |  10:14

Hi, Kate! I think Nikita sounds bored. I wonder what games you play with her? She's a collie so probably needs to use her brains. Maybe searching? I take a pot of yummy treats on walks and, when Sadie isn't looking, drop it behind me. Then I say 'Lost, lost - find it!' and send her back to look for it. She gets a treat from the pot when she brings it to me. Start with short distances until Nikita gets the message (you may need to walk back with her and show her to begin with), then increase the distance and make the search more and more difficult. OR hide things (old smelly socks with a knot in are good) in the garden and get her to find them for you. Put some in a bush a couple of feet off the ground. Get her thinking! Sue

Monday, 17 September 2018  |  9:31

You know what, Sue, I think you're right! I did wonder and she is a very bright dog.

She also loved countryside walks far more than the beach, for the smells I think.

Now however I have a kitten and they've become good mates. They can be seen playing for ages in the garden and it's done her the world of good.

Thanks for your comment x

Tuesday, 18 September 2018  |  2:11

Yes! The guilt is real, especially when I need to leave the house for a social event, and I have to tell the dog that I am leaving for work!