Need Some Advice: Dog Problems

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She loves riding in the car, but it’s too hot most of the year for her to do that in Louisiana.

I don’t often ask publicly for advice, but I’m needing some thoughtful ideas right now. I’m at the point where I’m considering finding another home for Ashok. It breaks my heart to think of getting rid of her, but my life has changed dramatically, and I hate that she’s having to spend so much time alone. I find myself not doing things or getting out socially because I don’t want to leave her trapped in her room. We are both suffering.

When I lived in Memphis, I worked long days, but when I came home we always took long walks down by the river, at Shelby Farms, around midtown neighborhoods and down by the Mississippi River. Dogs were welcome in all of the pretty places and on all of the trails and greenways in town. It benefited us both. It was great exercise for me, it was social, and it was great for her. But here all of the parks and greenways have ‘no pets’ policies. One day I drove two hours to get to the St. Tammany Trace only to find that they didn’t allow pets on the greenway. A short time ago I stopped at a Visitor’s Center in that area and asked if there was a place to walk my dog, and he said he could think of none. I’m limited to a few places here to walk/run with her, and some of those have no sidewalks and are really not that safe except in broad daylight.

I’m needing to build a life. I need to make friends. I would like to meet some men to date. I want to do things with people that have like minds. I’d love to go over to the Red Dragon Listening Room to hear live music and maybe make some friends there. I need to get more involved in the recovery community. I’ve decided that I’m not that much into the outdoors here. The weather is too dicey, and for a good part of the year, it’s just uncomfortable for a variety of reasons. Last year I tried to do the things I enjoy like running and hiking and camping, but most of the time I was miserable. In an effort to adapt to my surroundings, I need to find other things I like to do. Unfortunately, most of those don’t include dogs. And, if they don’t include dogs, then I have to leave her alone for more time than I already do. The guilt is killing me.

I know that I could have somebody come in and walk her, but that doesn’t solve the issue that she’s by herself for an excessive amount of time. I can’t afford another dog, so that’s out of the question. I tried putting her outside in the yard when I was in Memphis, but she hated that. She would never even go in the doghouse. If it rained, she sat in the rain. I felt even guiltier leaving her outside.

She’s not a dog that loves toys. She loves me. She likes to do things with me. She loves to walk and to run and to camp and to hike. I actually love those things, too. As much as I tried to do the things we have always done last year, neither one of us enjoyed it anymore. She didn’t want to go outside during July and August. She’d get excited when I said ‘walk’ or ‘run’, but then she’d sit down in the middle of the road as soon as we got outside. I’d have to drag her. I have to learn something new. I’m single. And while I love my dog, I need people in my life. I’m an extrovert. And I know she’s a social animal, too. Maybe I identify how miserable I am with how miserable she must be. I don’t know. I just know that I feel extremely guilty, lonely and disillusioned right now. I need to know what to do.

I’m reading a book right now by Joan Borysenko called ‘Minding the Body, Mending the Mind’. She’s got some great tips on reframing things so I can deal with difficult situations. Maybe I need to find a way to reframe this. I just know that every time I have to leave after leaving her all day, I feel so guilty. But I can’t build my life around my dog either. I need humans and friends in my life, too. I need help right now with this. I would love to see both of us happy and enjoying our lives. Right now, I think we both feel isolated, trapped and depressed. And I can’t see any way out but to help her find a new home where she has more company. I guess I could just go about my life and let her deal with it, but my conscience has a hard time putting that to rest.

Anybody have suggestions on what they do?

8 thoughts on “Need Some Advice: Dog Problems

  1. The first thing that comes to mind is sending her to a doggie day care a couple of days per week. Of course she would prefer being with you, but she hasn’t met the other dogs yet & made new friends! Also, the people there may be able to help her with some of the qualities you wrote about in an earlier post — sometimes not getting along with other dogs. Trained dog people are used to dealing with new dogs and behavior issues.

    Just a thought!

    Also, I love Joan Borysenko’s books! I am reading one of her books right now too: A Woman’s Journey To God. It reframes spirituality and even Christianity from a female-centered perspective. So good.

    • Joan is coming here for a workshop in March! Doggie Day Care is so expensive, and the only one is across town. But maybe ill just have to do it. Then i cant afford to
      Do anything at night! It never ends.

  2. Are there any agencies that foster dogs? This way, you would know that he has a home to be in, rather than taking him to a shelter. And if you can’t find a shelter in your immediate area, I would think some bigger cities, like New Orleans would have lots of foster programs.

  3. Oh, this is such a difficult place to be! I know Ashok has been with you through so much, but thinking about things from her perspective is a good way to reframe things. Is there someone (maybe with other dogs or pets) that you could leave her with for a few days? Like a doggy “sleepover” on a semi-regular basis. This way there is a period of separation to allow you to do things without guilt, and Ashok gets attention. When we go out of town, Sunny stays with a friend who has 3 smaller dogs and several cats, and enjoys the company.

    • What a great idea! In fact, a neighbor friend offered to do that after reading my blog. She’s going to be separated shortly, and she and her daughter want the company. Thanks for offering the idea. I’ve really felt loved today with all of the suggestions. And Ashok seems happy not to be packing her bags … on a permanent basis anyway.

  4. Oh, Sharon–I feel your pain! It is tough being a single-puppy-mother. When Brodie passed on 8-1-13, I had a new kind of freedom I hadn’t had for 15 1/2 years. I didn’t have to rush right home after work, nor did I have to combine all my errands into one trip so I wouldn’t keep having to leave the dog. And I could go away overnight without the burden of finding a dog sitter. But, after about a month, I found I didn’t want to go home to a house without a dog. My situation is a bit different than yours. First, there’s the climate. Then there seems to be much more hospitality offered to dogs in the north. I carried her into the gift shop at Cr Barrel last Sat. and the women that worked there freaked out over her. I can even take Pumpkin on the Southshore if she’s in a crate. Then there is her size–it’s much easier to throw her under my arm than it is a larger dog. Finally, I’m a homebody and I don’t seem to have all the social opportunities that you have, but I’m content. I’m blessed with a neighbor across the street who comes over and gets Pumpkin when I work on weeknights. She gets to play with three other dogs her size and they all have a ball. He is home all day and I’m glad to pay him a small stipend. I had another neighbor who helped me with Brodie for many years until he went off the deep end and started stealing from me. Anyways, it sounds like you might have a solution with a neighbor. I take Pumpkin where ever I can. If there is I meeting, I try to host at my house or ask if I can bring her. I even pushed her around in a shopping cart at Hobby Lobby. If you really enjoy her and want to keep her, I’m sure you will find a balance.

    • Thanks for your comments. I did think of you when I was worrying about this yesterday and wondered how you did it. I’m glad my neighbor and friend is willing to look after her a bit. It will take a load off. I guess it is a balance. Some days will be easier than others, but it’ll probably all work out. Right now all 3 animals are curled up next to me. And, when I really started thinking about it, I would be sad not to have a dog to walk and to take with me on the adventures that I have. The weather is different here, but I have to remember that not every day is 100 degrees. At least 3-4 months of the year, it is a little cooler. Maybe we can work out the other. Thanks for your support.

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