My Life as a Dog

As I was walking Winston today, happily wandering the rugged trails of Chino Hills, a vexing question came to mind. Is it possible that I am unconsciously projecting my own worries, fears, and anxieties on my Dog?

I hold the general belief that I am well-adjusted, healthy, hopeful, and even filled with a cheerful holiday spirit.  And I can find reliable evidence to back up these assertions.

But for some reason, I seem to be worrying a lot about my dog. It happens in many ways: in my private thoughts, in my one-on-one “conversations” with Winston, and even as I discuss him with others.

I have been alone with him for the last week. I find myself  thinking …  poor Winston, he’s so lonely. He misses his Daddy (Steve). He misses Johnny and Grace – they need to hurry home for Christmas, because he gets so sad without them. He doesn’t like the house so quiet. I turn on some Christmas carols to soothe him.

I cuddle and caress his coarse curly back. “Poor Winston. Don’t worry, we-re gonna have a great Christmas. You wait and see.” I brush him head to toe – his favorite form of massage. “Don’t you worry at all poor baby, cuz it will be special – we’ll watch It’s a Wonderful Life” I stroke his golden velvet ears. “Good doggie. Such a good doggie. Your mommy loves you … you’re the best doggie in the whole world.”

When people inquire about me, I assure them, “Oh, I don’t mind Steve traveling. I love time to myself. And as far as the ‘empty nest’? Now it’s actually clean, and I have so much time to do what I want. I read more, I write more, I see friends and have fun! This may be one of the best times of life.”

But poor, poor Winston. That doggie; he just gets so sad. He nuzzles up to me, and nearly breaks my heart with his old soul brown eyes.

Here’s where I need to rely on my psychologist friends. Tell me truly, is this some form of neurosis? Denial? Repression? Is it serious, or even pathological? What is your professional opinion?

I admit – there’s more. You see … I also worry about Winston’s health. I want him to have a long life, free of knee problems or heart disease. That’s why I worry about how much he weighs.  But me? No, I am strong and fit. My diet and weight? Now that’s nothing to be concerned about. (Except for the sad fact that avoiding weight gain is my second religion, sometimes my first).

Yet, Winnie, now he is entirely too focused on food – its his obsession! He’s looking rather thick around the middle lately. He can’t seem to curtail his ferocious appetite, and love for all types of food that cross his path. It’s not his fault though. He runs and walks everyday. Getting fat is in his genes. I explain this to people, wanting to be sure they understand. “Labs have a genetic risk of obesity. They are quite naturally, a stout breed. And their instinct to continually eat dates back to the old days, when they lived in cold climates, and worked all day. They just can’t help it.”

So, Labs tend to get a little on the chubby side. As a responsible owner, I must be vigilant so he doesn’t become overweight. Poor, Poor Doggie!

Winston’s so hungry all the time. So I put him on the “weight control” food. We have to be disciplined about this – no cheating! He gets a full bowl every morning and night, but I guess because its lower fat, he is never satiated. He always wants more! It’s so hard when you’re always wanting more. Poor doggie.

And then, I admit, I have some concerns about his overall lifestyle. Does he have enough time for play? Maybe he has too much time alone at home. Could he even be getting too sedentary, or even, God forbid, lazy? Lately he would rather scarf down a treat, than chase rabbits through the field– that’s a bad sign.  Poor Doggie!

What about his social life? Is he too isolated? Maybe he is spending excessive time sitting around the house, when he should be out romping with the other dogs and making new friends! What about play dates and the doggie park? He would probably be happier if he got off the porch, and ran with the big dogs. But here he sits. Poor, tired doggie.

As his owner, I’m simply concerned for his well-being. A dog is a big responsibility. MY responsibility! He is one of God’s precious creatures. He deserves a good life. He deserves to be happy, healthy, and loved. His life could pass him by, and what would he have to show for it?  Was each day lived to its fullest? Did he give and receive every possible ounce of joy? You never know how many dog years you will have – and then suddenly, bam, its all over.

That’s it.  For New Years, I will have to make some resolutions for Winston. Poor doggie!




  1. Another fabulous piece of writing, Lisa! Dog lovers the world over will identify with you here. I admit that it comforts me when I travel to have him guarding you. I can’t wait to get home from Chicago to walk the hills again with you and good ill’ faithful Winston.

  2. Great Lisa. I love it. I’m sure Winston is thrilled tonight as all the family is home to smother him with love.

    • Of course, I am thrilled that my family is returning too, as the one actually having (on some level anyway) all the feelings and fears projected on to Winston! (e.g. MY life as a dog …). My hubbie loved this post, but I think he took it at face value as about the dog. Maybe my New Year’s resolution should be directly owning my feelings (but talking through the dog was so much more fun)!

  3. Debbie Cassettari

    Winston is fortunate to be so loved – so many dogs aren’t. Just being with the family is important to our furry friends. And thanks for walking him – I know my two love their walks. As always in life, we can only do the best we can. And it seems like you are doing your best for him – and your family. Enjoy the holidays!

    • Thanks Deb. I know you are a great dog lover. Research shows people with dogs are healthier – the dogs keep us more active. They are a great way to meet people too.Merry Christmas!

  4. I’m struck by your self-awareness in perceiving that you might be projecting onto “poor Winston.”

    I find that I often can hold two very different (even opposing) feelings simultaneously. You describe feeling freer with the empty nest but also wondering if you’re projecting loneliness onto Winston. It reminds me of how I can simultaneously long for more children while also being relieved that my son is old enough that I can focus on other things. My thinking is there’s no reason why we should have to pick just one feeling to be true for us.

    • Yes, that is precisely the case Jen. Our emotions can be a complex mix. I understand exactly what you say about being a mom. Maybe its a simple comfort to have the companionship of a dog, whose feelings appear extremely straightforward! Glad you liked my post Jen. I enjoy sharing our evolving writing careers together!

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