I am a good dog mom, but as a single parent I sometimes need help. I’m ecstatic that my sweet 11-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer mix is warming up to Kris, his second mom as well as my landlady and friend.
My darling pup, Riggins, has separation anxiety. It both embarrasses me and makes me happy. I realize that makes me sound like a horrible dog parent, but it’s true. Of course I want him to be comfortable with friends and family so that he can be happy when I’m not around. At the same time, I love tales of how he misses me when I’m gone. This adorable furry creature loves me more than anyone else in the entire world. He can’t bear to be without me. The feeling is mutual.
I am an ex-dog sitter, so I’ve dealt with crazy separation anxiety. I wouldn’t say Riggins has the worse case I’ve ever seen, but it’s not good! He doesn’t destroy property, at least he hasn’t yet, but he has a really hard time settling down when I’m not around.
I’ve personally held the title of “second mom” to a number of pups. I’m always so happy to be introduced to a dog’s human friend as his “other mommy.” I’ve learned from experience that a dog has endless amounts of love to give and can accept other humans as important members of their life much more easily than any human. We could certainly learn something from them.
I use to travel for business and was lucky enough to have my parents be able to watch my baby boy. There are few humans on this planet who Riggins loves more than his Grandpa and Grandma but yet, even there, he will lie in front of the front door crying and waiting until I get home. Thankfully, he eventually understands that he is going to be hanging out for awhile and makes himself comfortable sleeping on the ground, playing ball with my mom and crowding my dad in bed.
Recently Riggins and I moved to a studio apartment behind my good friend, Kris’ house. Kris has two Chihuahua mixes who I’ve babysit in the past. They are both very comfortable with Riggins and me, and they often spend their days in the apartment while I work from home. The three dogs are besties, and each have their favorite spots in the small space to snooze while I work.
I really want Riggins to be comfortable hanging out with Kris and her pups so that he can have company when I am away from home. It became very clear, very quickly that making that happen was going to be a process.
Kris is an animal lover and one of Riggins’ favorite humans! She has worked hard to get him to accept her as his second Mommy. Anytime I go upstairs to visit Kris in her house, Riggins is right at my heels. His second mommy is always ready with frozen carrots as a treat for coming to visit. Riggins is no dummy and now stops at the fridge, where the frozen carrots live, whenever he is in her space. He gets the same treat when he successfully walks around the block with Kris, which is not an easy task and one that usually requires her to pull on his leash to get him to move.
Riggins and I have been in our new home for almost three months now, and over the last few weeks he has shown great improvement and has adopted Kris. They have their own language and will “sing” together when Riggins gets excited — Kris snuggles up with her head in Riggins’ neck, and they both sing out in a high-pitched tone that I adore but I’m sure annoys our neighbors!
Just recently, Riggins made huge strides by meeting Kris at HER front door when she comes home, versus just waiting for her to come and see him. Of course, when she does come he is usually snoozing on his bed, and the minute he sees her, his big tail starts thumping up and down in a happy rhythm.
Riggins still has separation anxiety, but I’m relieved that he is comfortable in his own space and is learning that the human just up the stairs loves him and wants him to be happy as much as I do. It makes going to exercise class or out for dinner so much easier, knowing Riggins second mommy is there to take are of him!
I’ve always said that it takes a village to raise a well-behaved pup. Riggins and I are lucky to have a strong member of our village so close and willing to be a part of our lives.
Has your dog adopted a family member or close friend? Let us know in the comments below.