While everyone is busy making lists of new year’s resolutions for ways to better themselves, I’ve made a list of resolutions that will help me be a better dog owner.
Obi, short for Obi-Wan Kenobi, is my first dog ever. The seven-pound white furball joined my tiny family of two (myself and my boyfriend, Bill) in July, but already he’s taken over our lives. In that short time, I’ve encountered a slew of things I’d never even dreamed of prior to owning a pet. It’s totally normal, for example, to wake up to a paw in my face indicating that it’s time to play.
While I think I’ve adjusted well, there are a few places I think I could improve in the coming year. Here’s to working on becoming a calmer, more Zen, more awesome dog mom.
1. Stress less
Sometimes I find myself wondering if I’m a good dog owner, if Obi is happy, if I’m boring to him, if he’s getting enough exercise, if he’s going to secretly love my grandma more than he loves me because she watches him every day while I’m at work.
I’m a perpetual worrier, riddled with doubts and anxieties and stresses that I never imagined would extend to my pup. I worry if his nails are trimmed tight enough. I worry what others think of his haircut. (To be fair, I still haven’t recovered from that one time he went to the groomer looking like an adorable puppy and came back to us looking like Lady Gaga.)
I worry about whether he’s getting the right food, if I should be stricter about his training, if he should get tap water or spring.
But I’ve got to take a step back, breathe, and realize that my dog is healthy (so say the vets), cared for, groomed regularly, and fed and watered often. He also has basic obedience skills and (most of all) is so, so, so loved. Which I think is the best part for him — and for me, too.
2. Stop buying so many toys
Seriously, enough is enough. Our two-floor apartment is littered with squeaky stuffed animals, rubber balls, chewed-on bones, and colored pieces of rope. I like to splurge on things, and that extends to Obi. I somehow think my dog needs lots of stuff to prove to the other dogs in the neighborhood that he’s living in the lap of luxury, or whatever.
The truth is, Obi couldn’t care less about what toys he has to play with — a leftover cardboard box from an online purchase is just as good as a pricey stuffed plaything. Sometimes I think he just plays with the toys to appease me.
3. … and enough with the clothes!
In what universe do dogs need clothes? Small dogs like Obi probably benefit from a sweater when it’s chilly out. But do our dogs really also need tiny raincoats, baseball tees, argyle sweater vests, and booties? No, they don’t, but I can’t stop buying the tiny clothes because they’re just so irresistibly cute. I get grabby hands whenever I walk by dog clothes the way some people gravitate toward nice shoes or expensive purses.
Obi doesn’t need another shirt he’ll only wear once so I can nab a photo of him and post it on Instagram, so, Self, stop buying them! Unless the piece of clothing is really, really cute. And cheap.
4. … and the Maltese-themed items!
This resolution has less to do with my actual dog and more to do with the overall organization of my home. Contrary to popular belief, dog owners don’t actually need every single thing they own emblazoned with the likenesses of their dogs. Maltese salt-and-pepper shakers? A Maltese welcome mat? Maltese doilies, mugs, and stuffed animals?
These are things I don’t need and, thankfully, don’t own — yet. But I can see myself spiraling out of control and buying Maltese-whatevers in the near future. It’s only a matter of time until I’m wearing Maltese sweaters with Maltese leggings.
5. Stop and count to 10 when Obi tries to steal a bite of my food
I admit it: I hate it when my dog tries to nibble on whatever I happen to be eating, whether it’s a snack or a meal. It drives me nuts. “Please, let me eat in peace,” I’ll beg, as if Obi can understand a word I’m saying. “How would you like it if I tried to steal pieces of your kibble while you ate?”
The truth is, all of my troubles could go away if I put him in his cage while Bill and I are eating — or if we, you know, stopped eating anywhere but the dining room table. But the first option seems too cruel. Why should I punish my dog because I’m a lazy bum and I want to snuggle while I eat popcorn and watch a movie?
The second option — eating at the “appropriate” dining facilities — is sort of boring. Isn’t half the fun of having your own place getting to decide when, what, and where you should eat? Maybe I cause my own misery a little; that’s why I want to learn to count to 10 before I get frustrated. After all, can I really blame Obi for wanting a bite of my cheesecake? If I were a dog, I’d totally want a bite of cheesecake, too.
Do your resolutions include becoming a better dog owner? What are you working on? Let us know in the comments!