I’ve Become a Crazy Dog Lady, But I’m Okay With It

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4.25.14 - Crazy Dog Lady2

By Jen Reeder / HuffPost

It’s always embarrassing when my local pet store hires a new employee. As she fights off carpal tunnel syndrome from ringing up all the treats and toys I’m buying, she assumes I’m a pet hoarder and asks, “How many dogs do you have?”

“One,” I say. “But he’s an only child.”

I didn’t believe in love at first sight until July 25, 2010, when my husband and I walked into an animal shelter and met our first dog, Rio. He was a yellow lab mix with a bite on his cheek and skin stretched thin over his ribcage. But his rough start in life hadn’t dampened his spirit — his tail never stopped wagging as we took turns having him jump into our laps to lick our faces. And he didn’t pee on the floor, which we took as a sign of great sophistication.

When I signed the adoption papers that day, I had no intention of becoming the 40-something that neighborhood kids sometimes call “The Dog Lady.” I wasn’t going to be one of those childless women of a certain age that replaces having a baby with a “fur child.” But nearly four years later, my favorite mug says: “Dog Mom — my child has four legs and fur.” (I also love my t-shirt that reads: “Dog is My Co-Pilot.” And the one that proclaims, “Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend never had a labrador” … but I digress.)

I can’t help it — Rio has made my life even more fun. I get to hike with him in the woods near our home twice a day (as I told my dad, “If nothing else, he’ll keep me from getting diabetes!”). I love stopping to chat with other dog owners while our pups play, and even made a close friend at the dog park. She won me over by saying, “Sometimes I run into people who are hiking without dogs and I think, ‘What are you, a sociopath?'” I’ve found my tribe.

Rio loves to come on vacations (anywhere we can drive, of course — air travel is too dangerous for a dog of his size), and has run wild on abandoned golf courses in Lake Las Vegas, socialized in dog parks in Des Moines and Flagstaff, devoured a roast beef dinner from the “yappy hour menu” at a restaurant in Taos, splashed with his human “cousins” in a lake in Wisconsin, met tourists at the Grand Canyon. Often Europeans will stop to pet him and show me photos of their dog back home, just as I do when I’m abroad and I see someone with a pooch. I still feel a little guilty about the time I bolted from a sidewalk café in Rome to chase down a young boy with a puppy — he looked decidedly wary of the blond American brandishing her wallet photos and trying (and failing) to say “I have a dog” in Italian.

Like all good parents, I’m diligent about Rio’s health. He has pet insurance, I brush his teeth several times a week (who knew they made chicken-flavored toothpaste?), he gets a “V.I.P. discount” from his veterinarian because we’re there so often. And of course, he’s microchipped in case anyone tries to steal him (labs are so friendly — it happens!).

In fact, my first clue that I was headed down the crazy dog lady path should have been when I was filling out the online form to register his microchip information and it asked for his nickname. I typed in “Baby, Cutie, Fuzzy Buddy, Little Love, Prince Rio, Mr. P, Sweet P, Wookiee, Pal, and Mr. Perfect Handsome Boy” — then hit “enter” and learned I had exceeded the 12-character limit.

Lucky for me, Rio is a good sport during the holidays. I buy him a Halloween costume every year ostensibly to amuse my friend’s two small kids (he looked so cute in his Spiderman outfit!) and we were delighted to learn while trick-or-treating that some people give away dog treats as well as candy. He’s taken photos with Santa three times, and I wrote in one holiday letter that Rio has taught me the meaning of life (to spread as much happiness as possible to others and to yourself — how can I not love this dog?).

Last month I fractured a couple of bones in my foot when I hit a stair wrong while teaching some children how to play hide-and-seek with Rio (yes, I cringe when people ask me if I was injured skiing). I’ve spent my convalescence writing pet articles and planning Rio’s upcoming birthday party.

And that’s when it dawned on me — I’ve officially become a crazy dog lady. But I’m okay with it because Rio loves me right back — the amazing thing about dogs is they love you at least as much as you love them. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go order a custom birthday cake for a Labrador.






8 thoughts on “I’ve Become a Crazy Dog Lady, But I’m Okay With It”

  1. Sounds like your soul dog, i have five dog’s currently. I love them all but i must admit-i had a dog which got out of the fence and accidentally got hit, my soul dog. I didn’t even realize how much i loved that dog and how much of my life was tied up in him until he died. I now hold him on my heart forever.

  2. Yep, I’m right there with you….and to think I used to say that I’d never be as crazy as my dog crazy aunt (now she’s my role model). The only time we were dogless (DH is dog crazy too) is when my Lab passed. Couldn’t face that kind of loss again till I realized that EVERY day my dog makes me laugh. The time is relatively small that there are sad times.
    My dog is well mannered, makes friends for me, and travels like a trooper. She’s nicer than most people, and if there’s no person that wants to pal around with, she’s my best buddy.
    And forget about non-dog people, my pup’s converted total anti-dog people so that NOW they have dogs. A well behaved, loving dog is like that, an ambassador to good times, good people, and fun.
    And thanks for the note about your dog visiting the Grand Canyon. I’ve been petitioning for a trip there avec pooch, and now it’s a definate destination!

  3. This crazy dog lady was woken up at 6am on this Saturday morning by Bogart the wonder dog to go for a walk since he knows that this is our day. He is sitting patiently staring at me with his big brown eyes (he is a black lab cross) awaiting my next move. Love him to bits and off we go!

  4. OMGosh….I just absolutely love this lady. To Anonymous @6:51 am…I got you beat…one of my dogs woke me up at 2:05am to take her out…she was whining so bad that my other lazy dog woke up. I got up and took them both out but the lazy one went to the bathroom and was ready to go back home to sleep. I took her back really quick and left back out with Goldie…she had an upset stomach and we had to walk the whole complex trying to find the right grass she wanted for her stomach. We walked back and forth til 3:30am until she started grazing on a small patch. After she was done and relieved her stomach….the sun was coming up we were several blocks from home….my front door was wide open and I had on fuzzy slippers….bright purple pajamas and my hair was wrapped up in a scarf. That sun came up quick all I could do was walk extremely fast with my head down….but all of the early risers knew exactly who we were from distance…I got plenty of faint horn hunks. If my knees weren’t so tore up we could have jogged home. One neighbor asked did we need a ride knowing he was on his way to work I declined and kept moving as fast as we could. Embarrassing but my fur girls are worth it.

  5. Hi all everyone considers me crazy seeing how much I love and care about my dog. I have a chow chow, 9 month old, the best thing ever happened to me. He is a love of my life. This unconditional love, nothing can top that. I was sick, he was always by my side, more than my husband and my son. Now my chow just had a surgery on his eyelid, entropion, and it breaks my heart to see him suffer. Hi is wearing the hard cone collar to prevent him from reaching his yes, he can’t get used to it. He is staying overnight at vet and I will pick him up this morning after 10. At the vet they had to throw me out because I couldn’t leave him yesterday. It was hard breaking for me to leave him locked in the cage. I was crying like crazy with everyone looking like something wrong with me. I’m taking him home today, hopefully it will be quick recovery.


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