If you were a dog, what would you think when your master is no
longer there to play with you and feed you? You wouldn’t understand
that she was returning, you’d only know that she was gone. Our 90-pound
Bernese Mountain dog, Ozzie, tends to sulk while I’m away and hang out
in our bedroom or my closet waiting for my return.
If you were a five-year old and your mom had to travel from time to
time for work, you might not be happy about it, but eventually you’d
get the hang of the fact that she would return. Additionally, you’d
know that you would talk on the phone, and if you were my kids, you’d
ask to Skype since that’s how you stay in touch with your aunts,
cousins and grandparents.
Last week I Skyped my girls while away on a business trip. It was
great! I think it also helped them to be able to see me while we were
talking; my five year old didn’t seem to be as upset with me being
gone. While the girls and I were talking, I could see Ozzie in the
background. At the sound of my voice his ears would perk up and he’d
look around. Next thing I knew he was walking over to my kids and the
computer as if looking for me.
At the sight of Ozzie’s response to my voice, I got excited and
pointed the fact out to my girls. With that one comment, both my girls
seemed to lose interest in talking any longer. I got the message,
ignored the dog, and gave my girls my full attention. Too late, they
were done, and they weren’t going to compete with a dog for my
attention. I can’t say I blame them.
I had been gone for three nights and returned home Saturday midday.
As I was putting my youngest daughter to bed that night I told her that
I missed her while I was away. She acknowledged my comment and then
asked me if I missed Ozzie more. I of course told her no, and later
wondered where that comment came from. I realized that it must have
been a result of my reaction to Ozzie while on Skype since all my time
that day had been spent with my girls while the dog was at home.
My daughter’s comment saddened me. A child should never feel like a
parent loves the family pet more. It also made me realize that our dog
has become an important part of our family and that I need to be more
aware of my actions and the implications for our girls.
At the same time, it’s hard not to notice at the end of a long day
at work that Ozzie never has a tantrum, listens to what I say the first
time, eats his meals without whining, gets up and out in the morning on
time to go with me to my office, and never complains about anything. I
guess the bottom line is that he’ll always be a loveable teddy bear of
a dog, and my girls will always be independent, funny, spunky, loveable
girls. I’m grateful for having all three of them in my life and they
all need to know it every day.