Separation Anxiety (the adult kind)

This is kind of a depressing post, so if you don’t want to hear it, don’t read  on.  But feel free to check out some other posts of mine…they generally aren’t too depressing.

Yesterday, I took my two dogs out for a walk in the woods.  As many of you know, one of the dogs (Sunny) is the mother of the other one (Houdini).  I’m very attached to my dogs, particularly Houdini.  They are both very good dogs, so much so that I can walk them off leash with hardly any problems.  So when I go to the woods with them I let them off the leash to run to their heart’s content. 

Usually Houdini doesn’t go out of my sight.  She’ll run ahead, but she always turns around to look for me.  Not yesterday.  And when I whistled to her, she didn’t come rushing to my side like usual.  I started walking back towards where I’d last seen her.  She wasn’t there.  I started calling her, not panicked yet.  No response.  I was in the middle of the woods and couldn’t decide whether to look to the left or to the right.  The view was more open to the left and I didn’t see her there, so I went a little way to the right.  I thought she should’ve been able to hear me calling her even if she was at the end of the trail.  Still no response.  I started to feel panic and my voice started to rise in pitch. 

Sunny was following me the whole time and I thought it was so weird that she didn’t seem to know that I was looking for Houdini.  She was unphased.  Maybe it was ridiculous of me to believe that she would understand what I needed at that moment, but panic makes you think differently. 

You would think by my description of this event, that a long time had passed, but probably it was only 5-10 minutes that passed.  It felt like an eternity as I thought about if I were to never see my sweet, little puppy again.  All I could envision was that she had either wandered into the path of that fox that has been haunting the neighborhood, or that she had wandered into the road and been snatched up by some dog kidnapper.  Looking back, I know that neither of those things would be very likely to happen, but like I said, panic makes you think differently.  By the time she came back in sight, I was bawling like it was the end of the world.  Even after she made her appearance, I could not calm down for quite a while.   

I know there are plenty of people out there that can’t relate to the way that pet owners feel about their pets.  It’s possible that I was amongst that group before this puppy came along.  I’m not sure why that is, but I have my theories. 

For one thing, I raised that puppy right from birth…obviously not by myself…but I felt responsible for her.  It’s kind of like the difference between babysitting and having your own child.  Responsibility to another being binds you to them, don’t you think?  The more responsibility you have for them, the stronger the bond you feel for them. 

The other reason why I think I am so attached to that puppy is that she has come into my life at a point of transition for me.  She is helping me through the transition of my kids becoming independent and (eventually) leaving home.  I feel a little guilty putting that burden on her.  I didn’t know I was doing that until it was too late.  I remember coming to that realization when I was reading the end of a teen parenting book.  The author was talking about the transitions that his dogs had helped his family through.  He knew. 

I don’t know how people cope with their kids leaving home.  I’ve been trying really hard to accept it and not burden my kids with the fact that it’s breaking my heart just to think of the impending separation.  That’s not fair to them.  It’s natural and healthy for them to grow up and leave home and it wouldn’t be right for me to make them feel bad about  it.  (Luckily, they don’t read my blog enough to run across this post). 

So, that’s my little sob story.  It kind of sucks that getting it off my chest didn’t even help.  But, now it’s out there and I’m sure plenty of you can relate.  Thanks for letting me cry on your shoulder.

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16 Responses to Separation Anxiety (the adult kind)

  1. Secret Mommy says:

    Awwwwww! Empty nest is so very long off for me, but II already dread it. So sorry for your stressful situation with pup. So glad everything wasokay!

  2. Dan says:

    I hear ya JB. Lots to say on this subject, but it’ll have to wait until summer time…

  3. Julie says:

    I’m so sorry. You are an amazing pet owner…and an even more amazing mother. Transitional pains are normal…right?? Remember transition in labor?? Not so fun…and yet look what comes after!! 🙂

    • Jb says:

      I try to keep reminding myself, that at each stage, when I thought about the future, I thought I would feel a sense of loss for the previous stage that we were in, but when the time actually came, I was enjoying the new stage too much to miss the old stage! Like nursing…I thought I would miss that, but when the time actually came, the kids were so much fun when they weren’t attached directly to me that I ended up not missing the nursing at all. And it’s rare that I miss previous stages, because everything is so interesting as the kids grow and change. So, hopefully, maybe what I’ll enjoy is that they grow out of the surliness and into a stage where they think I’m an okay person to interact with. That’ll be nice! I’ll try to focus on that! Thanks for that input!

      • Deb says:

        lol……….I’m such a one for doing things ahead of time, that I was grieving when my daughter was 1 year old about her being 18. It’s funny, though–there are some really neat things about this stage, and I have to say I’m enjoying this time just as much as all the other stages.

      • Jb says:

        That’s the one thing I gotta focus on so I don’t drive myself crazy!

  4. Jb says:

    I guess we’re all kind of in it together 😉

  5. Deb says:

    lol……….I’m such a one for doing things ahead of time, that I was grieving when my daughter was 1 year old about her being 18. It’s funny, though–there are some really neat things about this stage, and I have to say I’m enjoying this time just as much as all the other stages.

  6. Mom (Grandma) says:

    Don’t be afraid to cry your tears as you think of the kids leaving and even at the time they are leaving. When the last of you five left, I cried barrels of tears. Didn’t think I could stand it! But even though the kids will not admit it at that young age, later on they’ll realize the amount of love in that river of tears. And when their own leave home, they will surely know and identify with the feeling of loss you had.

    These tears are not the end though. There are many wonderful things still to come in a more adult relationship to those who are our children ( and will always be our children). For instance, I consider it so much fun to have you living close to us. It means a lot to me when we do things together, make a fire and sit around it and talk, walk together, and then the quilt show and the flower show. What great sharing! And it’s so wonderful to see the terrific adults your children become! You are so beautiful to me (as the song says).

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