It’s been a rough day, hasn’t it? One disaster after another. The dog woke you up a half hour before the alarm, and you really needed that half hour of sleep. You found that the pup wasn’t quite able to hold it all night, and there’s a stinky mess for you to clean up. You didn’t have time to prepare the dog’s homemade breakfast last night, so it looks like you’re skipping the shower this morning. You hope maybe no one at work will notice. They will.
After you spend ten minutes trying to find the leash that the pup hid, struggling with booties and coats, and turning the whole room upside down looking for your keys, you head out only to find halfway through your walk that you forgot the poop bags. As you desperately tell your neighbor that you’ll come back to pick up the mess later, you know she doesn’t believe you.
You spend the day wondering if the dog walker is following your overly-detailed notes, trying to remember the last time you gave your dog flea medicines, and freaking out over the latest article that says you might be over-vaccinating your fur baby. When you finally get home exhausted, you just want to take a nap, but the dog has energy. Too much energy. You can’t possibly ever keep up with all of that energy. You’re not playing with him enough. You’re failing to teach him even the most basic commands. Why did anyone let you adopt a dog? You’re clearly not a good dog parent.
I’m writing to tell you that isn’t true. I know because I’m you. You on a better day. You’re not a bad dog parent. You’re just having a bad day. You’ve had bad days before. Days where you felt like you were bad at your job, bad at being a friend, bad at being a significant other. But when it was all said and done, you were able to look at those times as what they were, just bad times. Maybe it was a bad day, or week, or month, but you moved past it. On days like today, you may feel ashamed or disappointed in yourself. Do you know why that is? Because you’re a good dog parent.
You hold yourself to a high standard because you love that dog more than anything. And that dog that just chewed off part of your shoe when you weren’t looking? That dog is going to be fine, and happy, and loved. He doesn’t know you’re worried about how much the groomer will cost or that you have no idea which dog seat belt is the best because he’s a dog. He’s just happy that you’re here, home, with him.
You’re a good dog parent having a bad day. And you know what? Every dog parent has bad days. Professional dog trainers have bad days. Ignore the video of your friend’s dog on Facebook showing off every trick imaginable. Your friend isn’t perfect either. Is she showing all the days she got frustrated and gave up? No. But those days definitely happened.
So relax. Take a break. Go out for a walk on your own. Your precious pup will be just fine without you for an hour. Listen to some music. Read a book. Get some time for yourself. Re-energize.
When you get home and your dog looks up at you with a shredded piece of your favorite shirt in his mouth, you know you won’t be able to stay mad. You can forgive whatever your dog does or doesn’t do. Extend that same level of forgiveness to yourself. Not every day is going to be a good day, and that’s okay. You’ll move on. You’ll be better. You are a good dog parent. You’ve just had a bad day.