Am I Crazy for Treating my Dog Like a Child?

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops the dog she inherited from her daughter, her fur baby replacement child.After my daughter died I didn’t want to love a single person or thing ever again. But Marika left me her dog. That was 8 ½ years ago. In the midst of my grieving, Suki became the sweetness and light in my life. Even now, when I look at this poochie-girl, the oxytocin in my brain bubbles over, melting all moodiness and moving me to plant multiple kisses on the fuzzy bridge of her nose. I’m a total mush pot over this dog.

Most of the time at home, when I’m not talking to my dead daughter, I’m talking to her dog. I worry about every little lump I find on her—is it cancer, is she going to stay healthy and have a good life? Is she too warm? Is she too cold? Driven to sew polar fleece blank-ees and construct plush featherbeds in every corner of the house for my baby-dog, I have a sneaking suspicion that Suki has turned into a replacement child.

Last week, Suki turned ten. And I wondered what I could possibly give her for a birthday present. She already had an abundance of squeaky toys and chew-sticks. And multiple puffer coats for cold-weather hiking. A card offering 20% off on a Dog DNA test arrived in the mail, and for a brief time I considered making a doggie birthday party but these ideas made me want to barf. Instead, I decided to spend a ton of time with her.

On the big day I put a bowtie necklace around her neck and fed her lots of roast beef. We hiked with friends, chased frogs around the pond, and played fetch. She got several belly-rubs. We spent the whole day together and I almost took her to the meeting of bereaved parents that evening knowing they’d understand my not wanting to leave her behind on her birthday. But Suki seemed worn out from all the attention. She crawled up on her new pillow perch in the window by the front door and pretty much told me she’d had enough.

Am I crazy for treating my dog like my child?

Well. Life is too short to worry about such things. And it’s too hard to go through life without love. So I’m just gonna keep doing anything I can to make sure my inherited dog has the best life possible.



Share Button

4 thoughts on “Am I Crazy for Treating my Dog Like a Child?

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    Marion Woodman told a beautiful story about going to her weekly therapy session when she was in her 40s or 50s all prepared with dreams and topics she’d been thinking over. About half way through, her therapist asked in a slightly exasperated voice, “Marion, what’s the matter with you?” “I got a message from my husband that my little dog died this morning,” Marion said. Her therapist looked at her with disbelief and said, “You wasted half our session when your Soul Animal died?” Then they both wept.

    I’m grateful for Suki. I’m grateful for my Willow who also turned 10 this year. She’s such an amazing friend and never gets tired of me and my struggles. They give us so much love and we give it back.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Yep. Those sweet little friends. Thank you, for the perfect name for them – “Soul Animals.” I love the story. Suki just turned ten as well, Elaine. I hope both Suki and Willow live long, wonderful lives. They do make our lives so much better. Cheers!

  2. Lucy Bergstrom

    Of course not! But “Come to Mommy” when I hear it, makes me cringe. However, no doubt the relationship you describe is very much parent-child. When our children grow up and move away, or much, much, much worse, if one of them dies, we need someone to give all that lost affection to, and you had Marika’s own dog who needed to be cared for. So no, you’re not crazy at all! You’re very sane, just grieving.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Okay, so I’m not going to mention how I refer to myself as “Grandma” when talking to my inherited dog. And I’m not going to share with you how many polar fleece blankets I’ve sewn up for her and placed around the house. But I am very grateful to have Suki. What’s really weird about the whole thing is how she has taken on Marika’s feisty testing nature. Suki almost rolls her eyes at me, like Marika used to when she grew impatient with me or didn’t like my response to her situation. And, as a result, I end up treating her more and more like I treated Marika. Except I’m a lot more open and tolerant of things these days.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *