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Show Me Some (More) Love

Sometimes I feel like I’ve been shunned by our dogs … and nobody told me. True confession: I think Ty and Buster love Amy more than me. Yep.

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The cheese stands ... apart

I’m sure it all goes back to my childhood – always a great place to lay blame and abdicate responsibility. I never had a “real” pet when I was a kid. My mother was way too much of a neat freak to stand for pet hair in her house. (Fast forward several decades, however, and my mother now warmly welcomes all four of us into her clean house – but I digress.) Thus, I didn’t grow up with a pet. Never learned to relate or to empathize.

My first dog came into my life when I was a-set-in-my-ways 44. Amy and I got Blitzen, an 8-week-old Shar-Pei puppy over the Christmas – New Year break when Amy still worked outside the home and I worked from home. Amy did everything that week – because what the heck did I know? I vividly remember Amy leaving on the morning of January 2, the door closing, and me looking down at Blitzen saying, “Now what do I do with you?” By the way, I took Blitzen out every hour so he wouldn’t have an accident in the apartment. Does that count for anything?

I am not the primary doggie care giver in our household (such as it is when your household is an RV). As much as possible, I pull my weight when it comes to taking routine care of the boys. But … and it’s a BIG BUT, Amy does all the delicate, oooo-that-makes-me-squeamish stuff like removing the crud from Ty’s cutsie little tulip ears or extracting the blood-infused ticks from Buster’s coat. And Amy’s cleaned up more puke than I have. She’s taken Ty and Buster to the vet more times than I have – but, hey, that should count in MY favor, right? Stop feeling for Amy already! This is about me. And just for the record, Ty always comes running to me for comforting after Amy has her way with his ears.

And speaking of life in the RV, Amy and I are never apart. Ever. That’s ok because we really love each other. But in our pre-RV life, on occasion, Amy might travel for a day or two. I would use that time to spoil Ty and Buster. Giving them the “good treats” like pepperoni pizza. Letting them on the sofa and staying up after their bed times to watch scary movies. Anything to make them love me as much, if not more, than Amy. I don’t get those days anymore.

So I have some questions for the secondary care givers in my readers’ households. Do your pets love you less? Noticeably less? (Um, not that it’s noticeably less for me … I’m just asking.) How do you cope? Does bribery work, or am I barking up the wrong tree on that one?

  • As you know from reading our blog, I sometimes think our two love Tom MORE than me, despite his secondary caretaker's role. An animal communicator once told me that Lilly loves us both, but in different ways because our energy and intent are different. Maybe try to think of that.

    And, indeed, while we both work at home 90% of the time, and love it … your particular brand of RV togetherness makes me go, “Wow!”

    Holler if you're coming through our part of Colorado (Golden area). Lilly and I would love to see you.

  • melf says:

    Poor Rod! So sorry that you are not the human favorite. I think dogs are just like that sometimes. I know that when I lived with my mom, I was always the one the dogs went to, but now I have competition. My mom and my sister seem to have the touch as well.

    I totally can relate to not wanting to do the squeamish stuff. I have a hard time with that too (try dog poop stuck to your Sheltie's hair!).

  • EdieJ says:

    Well if it's any consolation, Frankie shuns Rebecca, the woman who rescued him although he spent many months in her care. Whenever she comes to my house, he totally ignores her. He's just a serial monogamist; there's no getting around it.

    And I won't blame Frankie for the failure of certain relationships, but I do know some men in my life — men who think of themselves as dog people and are used to being welcomed by dogs — have felt discouraged by the fact that he will bark at them as though they were strangers, every single time he sees them. No one has ever asked me to choose, however…

    • melf says:

      That is so funny that Frankie is a serial monogamist. I just love that! Although, as a former foster mom, I kind of feel for Rebecca.

  • michelechollow says:

    Great post. When I tell my friends that I love my son, cat, and husband, my husband, Steven says “At least she includes me.” The cats have always loved me more because I'm the one who picks up after them, clean their box, feed them, turn on the faucet when they want water (Earl won't drink from a dish or motorized fountain. When we found him outside he was drinking water droplets on the leaves outdoors. So he just drinks from the fountain, and I stand by and wait for him to finish. I don't leave the faucet running all day.), take them to the vet, etc.

  • Kim Clune says:

    Rod, come to think of it, the only one of my animals who met you both likes Amy best too. Maybe I should introduce you to Emmett? Emmett likes everybody equally… but he's kind of nuts :)

  • I'm afraid I can't help you, Rod. My dogs love me the best. BUT I HAVE AN IDEA! What if you start to bribe AMY? That might sound crazy, but hear me out: Chocolates, wine, do ALL OF THE CHORES for awhile…

    I'm not exactly sure where I am heading with this, but I think it is CRUTIAL that you give this little experiment a shot.

    (Amy, you can pay me that $50 later…)

  • I watched the same thing happen when we first got our Labs. I was primary and they stuck to me. A few years go by and I find myself the secondary caregiver, and guess who they pay a little extra attention to now? It sure isn't me!

  • Scoop says:

    Not sure I can help, as I am Darby's primary caregiver. But I think your good cop/treat dispenser strategy is promising :)

  • I don't think it's that the dogs love you *less*, they've just bonded more with Amy because she does the daily grooming and other chores.

    With Jersey, I'm the one that does the vet runs, training, discipline, feeding etc. And as a result, Jersey views us differently. Sean is the *play* guy that she can have fun with and get extra treats from, while I'm the hardass that she has to behave with.

    Take part in daily chores a little more, like grooming. It's a good way to bond with the dogs.

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