Help! I need retail therapy!

It has been a rough day. A rough week, really.

Always a finicky lady, Hettie the dog has decided that she now wants to go berserk without warning at random people and dogs. Despite my reading every dog behavior blog on the Internet (and trying all the strategies we have learned from trainers), she grows worse by the day, and I am at my wit’s end.

This morning’s walk started out okay. Finally, some improvement, I thought, prematurely. Then some strange dude started making unsolicited clucking noises at Hettie, and after she went off lunging and barking at him, he yelled at me (as I was trying to get her under control) about how she was “violent.” Yes, Hettie probably could have handled it better, but like seriously man? I wouldn’t go around making random noises at other people and not expect them to react as if I were a total weirdo. So, yes, annoying behavior, but I cut Hettie some slack. At least it wasn’t a totally unsolicited act of aggression on her part (if you can’t tell I am at the point I am grasping at straws here).

Then we went to the park. And it was one disastrous trip to the park. Like many dogs, Hettie is better off-lead than on-lead, so I look forward to the park as a place where I can let her off the lead and walk without perpetual fear of what she is going to do and who is going to yell at me next. Or so I thought until today when, while off-lead, she went after some guy and tried to grab at his sweat pants. She zeroed in on him from a distance, and in a split second went after him as if he were a squirrel. I tried the whole litany of things one is supposed to do to handle a dog in that situation, all to no avail. So she promptly went back on the lead, and we stomped home from the park in the rain with me fuming.

I have been patient. I have been gentle. I have been observant. I have been and done all the things that dog training advice tells you to be. And now I am just one mess of frustrated nerves whose anxiety is probably making Hettie act even worse.

Of course, ask any of the million dog advice sites out there, and they will tell you this is all my fault. If my dog doesn’t behave like a robot, it must be because I am doing something wrong. If I listened to the prevailing dog world wisdom (which I do), I would beat myself up (which I also do) for being the single direct cause of my dog’s unhealthy mental state driving her to act out. So thanks to Hettie, I not only have the whole world yelling at me but I also spend the day yelling at myself for clearly being a failure of a dog owner.

But can I really be that much worse than the other dog owners out there? I just cannnot figure out what other people do that their dogs don’t act like whackadoodles. Combine Hettie’s behavior and my self-blaming frustration with the never-ending rain happening outside this week, and my sanity is just about drained.

For my sanity, I need some retail therapy. What I really want more than anything in the world this afternoon is to leave Hettie at home and go shopping. The best way to distract myself and make myself feel better would be to go to my favorite store and find some lovely pre-spring item that would make me happy and give me just enough of a little, brightly colored attitude boost to face another walk with the Hettie monster this evening. Some new thing would not have solved my Hettie problem, but it probably would have helped perk me enough to at least look at the Hettie problem as a solvable one.

But I can’t go shopping. So instead I went to the closest patisserie and had an almond croissant. This was, of course, a terrible idea because, once I had eaten it, I was left with nothing to bring home but guilt and shame for not being able to control my diet as well as my dog. The almond croissant was a most unsatisfactory substitute for whatever thing I would have bought during some retail therapy shopping and that I would still be feeling good about now.

My takeaway is that maybe some days I really just do need a bit of retail therapy, even if I don’t actually need the thing I end up buying on those days. So after this year of no new nothing ends, perhaps I will allow myself a few retail therapy shopping days in addition to days of shopping for what I actually need.

This dog is making me nuts … and almond croissants are all I have left to console me.
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