Tuesdays With Toby: Stubborn Love, Separation Anxiety
Hyattsville, how does your pup feel about you leaving him alone?
I’m desperate. Toby’s desperate.
How do we reconcile our deep love for each other with my need to leave the house sometimes?
Toby is six years old, but still very puppy-like. At our last vet visit, he hopped into the technician’s lap and curled up. His body was way too big for her and she gently reminded him that puppyhood is over. Still, he didn’t flinch.
I’m not sure if his young-at-heart-ness is the reason why he is glued to me all the time. He follows me everywhere, even if I’m in the same room as him (My poor dad used to trip over Toby in the kitchen because the dog insisted on laying by his master’s feet even when he was washing dishes). Most times this is endearing—heck, it’s always endearing—but it also can be inconvenient.
For instance, over the past two weeks, Toby hasn't let me leave the apartment without him. He wiggles between the door and me and out into the hallway. This poses a problem when I’m off to Hyattsville City Council meetings because dogs aren’t generally allowed in council chambers. I’ve tried treats, offering to get his leash for a walk and even closing the door on him.
Still, he trots into the hallway, turns around to face me, and then sits down (I think he does this because he knows his center of gravity while sitting makes it harder for me to drag him back inside). His tail is wagging, my pointer finger is wagging. His eyes are full of stars and love. Steam is almost coming out of my ears. I usually end up “hugging” him around his barrel and walking/pushing him inside as he braces against the doorjamb with his front paws.
Once I left a bone on the floor for him when I left, hoping that would soothe him a bit. When I got home five hours later, the bone was in the same place as when I’d left. Toby immediately greeted me then trotted over to the bone and gobbled it up.
Even a treat couldn’t stem his separation anxiety.
Before I go on sounding like an inattentive dog mom, please understand that this dog falls asleep on his back in my bed, his head on my pillow, my arms around his shoulders and over his belly. He’s loved beyond measure, and so am I.
But it’s still hard to run out to a breaking news scene or to meet up with friends when the dog becomes a defiant statue in my hallway.
So we’re looking for a compromise. Any ideas?