Why Neurotic People Should Not Be Allowed To Have Dogs

Golden Retriever gets the signal to stay

We keep practicing “stay.” Why could this possibly be important?

It was good to know people were pulling for us.

Despite Honey having been abducted by aliens the day of her Canine Good Citizen test, I don’t have any complaints. The test evaluator and her helpers not only loved dogs but cared about people who loved dogs.

So why did I feel like crap?

Neurotic Dog Person

The test’s evaluator encouraged me not to be nervous by telling me the Canine Good Citizen test was not about obedience or tricks. It was about the relationship between the dog and her handler.

Oh boy.

Because if it were about training, I’d be off the hook. I know I’m a rotten trainer.

But I work really hard at the relationship.

So if Honey is more interested in squirrels, other people, the evaluator’s clipboard, and the dog in the truck than she is about me, I’m a big fat loser. And I’ve somehow harmed our relationship.

Yep, that’s how a neurotic person interprets words meant to be encouraging. We’re crazy. Get it?

Building a Relationship With Your Dog

What I don’t know about dogs could fill books. Come to think of it, it does.

But I do know that I want a relationship that goes both ways. That’s why I try to:

  • meet Honey’s needs
  • understand what’s important to her
  • keep from tricking her (I sometimes fail, but I know I’m not the only person who has faked a treat in the pocket in desperation)
  • let her make choices

So if the test is about relationship, and the signs of the relationship are weak, somewhere I messed up.

Everyday Neuroses

Of course, worrying about my relationship with my dog isn’t the only way I’m neurotic. I’m also known to

  • experience intense guilt if I don’t see the pedestrian standing at the crosswalk before it’s too late to stop
  • worry that by turning on the heat when I’m shivering I’m killing polar bears in the arctic
  • and become suicidal when I realize I’ve forgotten yet another birthday
See, my dog is just one of many excuses to be neurotic.
Golden Retriever with autumn leaves

Oh, so this is why we were practicing.

Somehow, the only thing that makes things better when I feel like a hideous stain on humanity, is taking my dog for a walk.

Hmmm. Maybe I’m wrong that neurotic people should not be allowed to have dogs.

Maybe we crazy people need dogs more than anyone.


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  1. Dogs pick up on the moods of bipeds quicker than the bipeds do themselves sometimes, maybe Honey picked up your nerves about the test. We all have good days and bad days at working together. You passed the test together when you weren’t at your best, that’s a positive thing. Your relationship will keep improving because you work at it.

    • The funny thing is that I was very confident at the start of the day. Honey had been a superstar in practice.

      I assumed Honey was over excited by something in the atmosphere. But who knows? The sensitivity of dogs never ceases to amaze me. Maybe Honey knows me better than myself.

      And yes, I’m very thankful that we were able to find a way to work together even if it wasn’t our most stellar showing. :)

  2. I might be biased, but I think almost everyone needs a dog. It’s finding the right fit of dog and human that makes the magic happen. Dogs forgive us for so many things, and that makes it a little easier to forgive ourselves.

    • So true. And I agree that almost everyone needs a dog. But I found a website of dog haters that would beg to differ. And I thought I was crazy. :)

  3. Well screw that CGC test and the steel horse it rode in on! (sorry, PMS)

    Everybody feels like a jerk when their dog doesn’t pass (and most of the time, it’s only because the handler is nearly paralyzed by nerves), but I know Honey and if she’s a canine bad citizen, then my two hoodlums should have their certificates revoked.

    • The silly things is that Honey did pass. We managed to get our act together good enough to get the paperwork.

      I’m so neurotic I can even find something to complain about when we succeed. :)

      But I wouldn’t have missed your comment for the world! And I love thinking of Dewi and Jon Farleigh as hoodlums. It’s such a lovable term.

  4. I can relate. But of course, you already know how neurotic I am. Sometimes I think I could spend 8 hours a day in therapy and still need therapy. :-)

    My problem is I lack confidence and I care what others think of me. OMG what will that evaluator think when Delilah gets up from her down because I’ve left the room?

    Which is probably why I haven’t signed up to take that test yet!

    • Oh, just do it, Jodi. Just think of all the blog fodder. 😛

      Besides, when you leave the room, Delilah doesn’t have to stay in place. She just has to remain calm outside your presence. She can do whatever she wants.

      I made a similar error. I thought Honey’s “stay” had to last for 3 minutes. When I read the test again, it found out she only had to stay until I got to the end of her 20 foot lead and walked back. After practicing a 3 minute stay, we had that one in the bag!

  5. Congratulations on passing the test! I knew you would both do well and I’m proud of you! I wish I’d had the time to put my Golden Girls through all that back when they were younger. They’re both good girls — for the most part — and considering they were alone most of the day every Monday thru Friday for the first 5 years of their lives, that’s quite remarkable. (I did take them both through the paces of PetSmart basic and intermediate obedience classes. They both did great too!) So tell me, what did you & Honey do to celebrate your success? Did you go out for a beer, or doggie and person ice cream, or lunch at an outdoor cafe?

    • Thanks, Sue. Our celebration was to stroll around the arboretum where the test was given to enjoy the leaves. Well, we enjoyed the leaves. Honey just enjoyed the walk.

      If you look at my picture, you can see that beer, ice cream, or lunch are probably the last rewards I need. :)

  6. I don’t know, is there anyone who’s NOT neurotic? OK, I guess some are more than others…and I am certainly on the nervous and irrational end of the spectrum. And my dogs are the best medicine there is–nothing else makes me settle down and enjoy the moment like they do.

    I think its great you passed your CGC and a testament to the amazing relationship you do have with Honey. Sounds like you found a nice evaluator too.

  7. I hope you’re keeping in mind that this was one moment in time that the evaluator witnessed. It is not indicative of your overall relationship with Honey. Your day started off a little off key, so it makes sense that she didn’t see the great relationship you two have together. You’re not neurotic.

  8. Firstly, congratulations Honey on becoming a CGC! You did good despite those aliens.

    I am neurotic, a little paranoid, antisocial, a pessimist and a recovering obsessive-compulsive with schizophrenic genes. I don’t think Georgia minds. However, I believe she exhibits some of those characteristics herself. In fact, Cushion has pointed out many times over the years that MY dogs seem to be neurotic (we always had 2 dogs, 1 of which was more his and 1 more mine). Maybe we just recognised like souls at the pound.

  9. Oh, the evaluator’s comment would have sent me over the edge, too. It’s like saying “this test isn’t about something superficial. It’s about one of the most important things in your life.” It’s also silly, because the CGC test is largely about temperament.

  10. Personally I cling to my bundle of neuroses because I read somewhere that neurotics do not become psychotic. It may not make sense, but it gives me comfort. Most animal lovers seem to be neurotic.

  11. My crazy peoples definitely would be crazier without all of us in her life to keep herself busy, that’s for sure. She also tries really hard to work on my relationship with her, and although I do love her of course, sometimes a dog just has to be a dog and check out other interesting things in the environment. Otherwise, we end up feeling smothered.

  12. I’m glad you passed :) Honey is a trooper and you two are so great for each other! I think we are neurotic because we really care – nothing wrong with that! We never tried the CGC with Cali, but we still think she is a great dog :)

  13. I would have thought the same thing if someone told me it was about relationship. BOL! And I agree with Kristen, who isn’t a little neurotic?? I love walk time with my dogs, it gets me into them and out of my head. :)


  14. Hey you sound a lot like my typist!! BOl thanks for sharing you have made her feel better!

  15. Oh yeah, the CGC. I was so excited that Micron actually passed the thing that I told everyone. Ok, I kinda told everyone who didn’t know Micron, because I couldn’t stand the response of “Really?”
    And just when I thought that was stressful, I moved on to the next logical thought, which is pet therapy work. He’s got his CGC, so he’ll be great! No, no. He’ll be perfect!
    Oh and that therapy dog test? A disaster. I was so nervous I was the one who needed therapy.
    We did pass. Barely. And it took a committee to decide our fate. I still cringe when I think of how wound up I had myself.

  16. Aliens abduction or not, I think Honey is a Honey of a dog!!! (Sorry, maybe I’ve been abducted by aliens, too.) Congratulations to both of you on her new found Citizenship. Way cool.

  17. I think you and my mom probably have a lot in common. I bet you have a great relationship with Honey! You obviously love her a lot and work really hard to give her an amazing life. She’s a lucky dog! Trust me, when I was in puppy jail I met a lot of really unlucky dogs. Honey is the exact opposite.
    Even when we really love our people, we sometimes just get distracted by really exciting things. Or we wake up on the wrong side of the bed and have a weird day. But it doesn’t mean we don’t think that our people are the best thing in the whole world :)

  18. As a fellow neurotic person, I definitely need my dogs to help keep me sane. :)

  19. I’m about as neurotic as they come and I’d be lost without my dogs. They remind me that all those little things that make me neurotic just aren’t that important. Koly and I have an incredibly strong relationship, but that doesn’t mean he always wants to listen to me ;0) I doubt we could ever pass the CGC test… Kol would be distracted by anything with a half decent smell.