With the New Year, I’ve made some changes in my life. Not surprising to hear, given most people have some New Year Resolution or another. I wouldn’t say mine were at all motivated by the New Year, however. More that, because I took some vacation around Christmas, I was able to notice some things that, because I was working constantly, I had been ignorant of.
Clover had slowly become more and more bratty since I started my new job in November. It was slow & gradual, at first hardly even noticeable, but over Christmas, I realized I had a problem. It was beyond toddler “all about me” or teenage “rebellion”. She wasn’t listening when I told her to do things. (Sit, Stay, Come, No.) She was beginning to play very rough (actually ripped open my Dad’s hand, and my nose on two separate occasions.) Both of these developments meant that I didn’t trust her in public, and meant I no longer wanted to play with her, cause it hurt.
Clover had been used to going to work with me everyday at my last job, so the sudden switch to a new job at a dog prohibited office was a jolt for her, and not much better for me. At first, I thought I could leave her at home with backyard access. After multiple times destroying elements of my room, worrying my upstairs and pissing off neighbors with her constant barking, it became clear that wasn’t an option.
I started commuting with her to Oakland a couple days a week, and dropping her at doggie daycare. It was an extra thirty minutes to my commute each way, and wasn’t doing great for her anyway. She would get really anxious on our walk over, and be ballistically excited at pickup. Often times she would smell like urine or “kennel” smell. I judged it was not an experience that I wanted to be her daily or even her regular.
Finally, amongst all these other trials, she was going to my old place of work most days, watched by one co-worker or another. At first, I thought this was the best outcome for her. A familiar place, familiar people, similar routine -just no mom. But then stories trickled back to me about how little she was being watched, how she was constantly being shuffled from person to person, how little consistency she was getting, and how little discipline. I mean, it’s not like I could demand or expect such things. A) I wasn’t there to enforce anything. B) This was all voluntary & charity. Nothing said that Clover should go to work everyday and be cared for by my previous co-workers. I wasn’t paying them, and honestly, its an office, not a pet daycare.
I came to the realization over Christmas, after considering all the above factors, that Clover needed a massive change, and by virtue of being her caretaker, I did too. I resolved that over the remainder of winter break, while my days and hours were much more flexible, that we would create a new schedule or routine that benefitted us both, and I would talk with my current job about some possible flexibility.
Starting around Jan 1, I started becoming, what I call, a “hard-ass disciplinarian.” We went on at least one long walk per day, where I made her listen, and walk next to me. I made it clear I was walking her, not the other way around. I made her wait and calm down whenever she became too excited when seeing another dog while we were out walking. We would have a nice long ‘fetch’ session at the dog park (10-15 minutes) where she’d often socialize with other dogs. And when I have to go out without her, she gets crated.
I noticed a remarkable turn around in her personality in a matter of just a couple days. I knew that if she went back to my previous place of employment, all our hard work and progress would be undone. I had made the decision to stop letting her go to my old office. Now I just had to break the news to them…
It wasn’t happily accepted that my and Clover’s routine now had her staying home each day, but she gets a 45-60 min walk with fetch each morning before I leave for work, and playtime and/or walk when I get home after work. Last week went well, and I expect this week will, too.
First, I wanna say that I’m pretty lucky that Clover is the type to play fetch. That ~10 mins we spend throwing balls in the park does wonders for her enjoyment and energy expenditure. Patchy could care less about fetch for most of her life. Clover is easy by comparison.
Second, that conversation I mentioned planning to have with my current job? It went exceedingly well. He totally understands that Clover is a big part of my life and that trying to make sure she’s taken care of has been really stressing me out. While its our hope that our new office in April will be dog friendly, in the meantime, he offered half days in the office for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. That’s starting this week, and I’m super excited.