Photo of Golden Retriever dog playing in the creek.

Reconnecting when the new wears off.

by Kris Phillips

It’s all butterflies and bubbles in your stomach when someone new comes into your life. You think about him all day at work and wonder if he misses you too. You can’t wait to rush home for those sweet kisses. You know just on the other side of that door he’s waiting, eager to just spend time with you. You take classes together and play in the park. But time passes and the newness wears off. Life takes over, laundry, groceries, friends and family fill your days and you have less and less time for him. You come through the door with an arm full of groceries at the end of a long day and scold him for being in the way. 

Until one day you realize his scruffy face is turning gray. Its not that you love him any less than the day you met…its just that you’ve forgotten how short his time may be. He’s such a staple in your life its easy to him for granted.

I’m referring of course to the dog in your life. Every dog-Mom knows the excitement of bringing a new fur-ball home. You splurge on toys and beds. Spend all your free time playing fetch or tug. But just like any relationship, the newness wears off and life demands your focus. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It happens to the best of us. My life & career revolve around dogs and even I’m guilty of taking my furry ones for granted.

A few weeks ago, while working feverishly to edit my latest photo shoot, I looked up to see both dogs laying quietly with their head between their feet and watching me for any indication I might take them for a walk. The look in their eyes broke my heart. They weren’t demanding my attention or even making a sound. They were just waiting quietly,hopefully.

For most of us this is how life goes. It’s easy to forget at the end of a long day that your dog’s been home, waiting for you to walk through the door. You are the thing that completes their life.  Sometimes this lack of attention leads to sad puppy dog eyes, and sometimes it leads to finding your couch scattered across the living room. 

So what’s the solution? Ask any relationship expert and they will tell you ” relationships take effort”. Set aside some time every day to spend with your dog. Start small at first, even if its just 15 minutes a night of focused attention. Work on new tricks, play fetch, or go for a walk. Then expand out of your home and find activities to do together and places to go.

Hiking is one of my favorite. Colorado is rich with dog friendly hiking trails. My favorites are trails that crisscross creeks. Getting away from the city and taking in some fresh air is good for you and you dog, mentally and emotionally. If there happens to be a refreshing dip in a mountain stream at the end I call it a bonus.

You could also consider taking up a sport that falls in line with your dogs talents.If your dog likes to run or has a bad habit of pulling on the leash Skijorring is a great winter sport where your dog pulls you on skis. The equipment required is pretty minimal, just a harness, long leash, and a pair of skis will have you on your way. If your dog likes to play frisbee consider getting in touch with the Colorado Disc Dogs . Big on fetch? Consider flyball or dock diving. Agility or Urban Herding may also be some fun options.

If your looking to get out of town this summer consider a dog friendly trip. Perhaps a weekend camping or boating. Or a road trip, just make sure to call ahead and find out the hotels pet policy.  More and more restaurants are allowing dogs to join you on the patio.

Whatever you do with your fur-baby just remember its about having fun with them! It may take them some time to adjust or learn new skills. Always put safety first. If your boating, invest in a canine life jacket. Learning a new sport? Get in touch with a club or trainer, they can show you the ropes and help avoid unsafe practices.

And of course take time to capture the memories! When our puppies are little we take lots of photos. When they’re old and grey we recognize their short time and grasp at the moments. But, the part in the middle is just as precious.

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