One smoggy evening last week I found myself in a self-induced, tear-stained panic. I had adopted a dog a few days before and I became overwhelmed by an obsessive thought: I am going to die alone with dog.
The new dog came fully loaded with abandonment issues and follows at my heels from the bed to the bathroom and back again. He is perfectly well behaved…until I leave; he howls uncontrollably and busts through metal baby gates in a panic to find me. The dog is taking up all my time and energy. Like a new mother, I no longer shower…forget the makeup…and there are probably bugs living in my hair. Let’s just say the novelty has worn off and I was possessed with a “My God, what have I done?” moment.
The source of my anxiety comes not from the dog (I am an experienced pet owner who’s rescued and rehabilitated many an animal) but from an odd idea of what having a dog might mean. I’m afraid having a dog spells death for my love life…my sex life…my social life.
This anxiety isn’t that far-fetched. How many sitcoms, blog posts, web spoofs have we seen about the crazy dog or cat lady? How many men do you know of that swear having a dog, or cat, or pet of any kind is a deal breaker? Ever met a man who fakes animal allergies and says it’s him or Fido? I sure have! Coming out of a bad relationship in which my pets were used as a weapon of attack against me has escalated this silly notion into full-blown Amy anxiety.
So I turned to my dog-owning girlfriends in the midst of my overwhelm to help me maneuver through a series of questions.
How am I supposed to have sex with a man? The dog panics when I’m not in his eyeline. I can’t lock the dog in another room or it will start barking!
“When men get creeped out when Hector watches I tell them, ‘he’s a fucking dog. That’s what dogs do. Deal with it.’”
My other friend confessed that one time she was having sex with a man and while the man was doing her, her dog started doing the man from behind. Now she keeps the dog locked in the other room.
I didn’t find that very comforting.
What if a man doesn’t want to date me because he can’t tolerate my 19 lb hypoallergenic dog at the foot of my double bed?
“I only sleep with my dog three times a week. That way neither of us gets too attached,” one friend said.
“My mom told me never to let my dog on the bed or no man would marry me. I took her advice and my dog sleeps on her doggy bed on my floor.” (My friend is still not married so we don’t know as of yet if this technique works…but we’re hopeful.)
My dog is like a post-it note, stuck to my side. So yes, he sleeps at the foot of my bed. After a 6-month bout of insomnia I am finally falling asleep without sleep aids and waking up at a reasonable hour in the morning…so in the bed he stays.
To still my anxiety I think back to my sweet Jezebel cat who loved snuggling with me at night. I dated a man with severe allergies for two years, and during that time she took to her cat bed like a champ. Because he was a sweet, understanding man who loved animals despite his allergies, it was a non-issue. That’s not to say I didn’t love having my Jezz back in my bed when we broke up!
Shit, if the guy complains about dog at his feet, I can always buy a California King.
What if I completely give up on finding a mate? My dog gives me love…companionship…and I’m already lukewarm when it comes to dating!
The general consensus was that the dog and I are just finding our groove. Given some time both he and I will make our way in the world as separate entities, and I will once again have time to wash my hair.
Bottom line: I require an animal lover in my life. One who appreciates the nurturing bond I have with all things furry and feathery. The undeniable truth is: I get along better with animals than I do with people. While this could speak to a degree of inherent anti-socialness, it stems mainly from an instinctual affinity. Often, animal language is more familiar to me than that of my own species. It’s certainly simpler. I don’t get along with animals better because humans talk smack. Believe me, animals talk back too…but unlike humans, they actually have a good reason for it. And I don’t rescue animals because I’m looking for unconditional love or a substitute for the human child I really want. I just have an innate knack for nurturing our animal companions.
And on the bright side…if I do die with dog…I won’t be dying alone.