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Ushering in 2018 - The Year of the Dog: How to Regain Your Zen and Stop Worrying About Your Dog

Part 1 in the Dog Blog series

By Linda Vandercook • December 02, 2017

My dog is a mutt. No ifs, ands, or butts about it. He's a Shepherd-Lab mix, and my husband and I got him from a local SPCA event when he (my dog, that is, not my husband) was only three months old. His mom was a beautiful black lab, but we never saw his dad since the mom had been surrendered while with pups.

Now, I have a lot of pets: three cats and two rabbits—but only one dog; it's not for lack of trying. Last time I went to the shelter to look for another dog, I came home with cat #3. And the only reason I have rabbits is because my dog found an abandoned bunny in my backyard.

A few years back, I took my dog along on a trip to hang out with my brother (who, by the way, has a purebred, very neat and regal-looking Vizsla that can run for miles and miles and still look very neat and regal). After spending most of the day in the car, with me and my brother in the front and my dog firmly planted in the backseat, contentedly looking out the window the whole time, my brother declared that my dog was "distinctly un-eventful." And it's true—my dog has a calm kind of attentiveness to him. He has a remarkably patient soul and never complains. Also, he's great with people but barks at statues of people, and he has a deep-seated distrust of discarded hubcaps.

For the better part of the past five years, I've been telecommuting (yep, working from home), with my trusty pooch asleep under my desk. But now that I'm back in the office, my dog is alone at home. Well, he has the cats and the rabbits, but it's not the same as having human company, right?

So I found myself wondering if my dog was going to be bored/lonely/sad while home alone all day. Being a not-all-too-ambitious dog, I was pretty sure that his near-term career goals consisted of being able to hold not just two but three tennis balls in his mouth at the same time. Still, one wonders and worries: am I doing my dog justice spending so much time away from home?

I also started looking for ideas on how to get more quality time with my dog after work and during the weekends. Even though he is now a senior dog, favoring shorter hikes and a slower pace, he still loves the outdoors, chasing squirrels, and snow.

In my quest to be the best dog owner I can be, I decided to bone up on dog hobbies and activities for senior dogs. And to my delight, I found a bunch of cool resources and ideas, which I've distilled into the following...

3 Easy-to-Follow Pooch Rules:

Rule #1: Do a daily walk no matter what. Here in Seattle, that means whether it's raining just a little or a lot. So I keep my "wellies" at the door and an extra towel for pooch when we come back. He's gotten really good at letting me wipe his paws when we get back in. So I give him an extra gold star for that.

Rule #2: Link up with other dogs and dog owners in the neighborhood. On the weekends, I schedule my dog walk to fit with one of my neighbors' dog walks so that my dog can be around and bond with other dogs. My dog is not the last of the Mohicans. He is not the only one of his kind. Dogs need dogs, just like people need people (i.e., working from home can drive you kind of nuts, but that is for another blog).

Rule #3: Don't stress out about the dog. Dogs are chill. They just want to hang out and do what you do. Kick the ball around when raking leaves, take the pooch with you when you run a quick errand down to the post office, and let him help you clean the dishes when you're done cooking.

And to give credit where credit is due, here is how I got my Zen back about my dog:

Don't miss the other intallments of The Dog Blog series from Linda:

About the Author: Linda Vandercook has been a Software Developer with ThriftBooks for seven years, many of them working remotely to support her husband’s career in the military. She is also a strong animal advocate, volunteering at local shelters, and trying hard not to adopt every rabbit, cat, squirrel, dog, or other miscellaneous critter that shows up in her back yard. Born and raised in Sweden, Linda thinks the U.S. is the awesomest place on Earth!

    Read more by Linda Vandercook

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