I've always dreamt of my dog living with me after I bought my own place. She's my best friend. (Even bester of a friend than my fiancé, I think, but don't tell him…wink wink). I dreamt that Cheyenne and I would take walks every morning and go on little truck rides to the park and the lake. We would be adventurers together in our own little life.
So as soon as I signed the papers and moved all my junk into my new house, I scooped up my puppy (11 years old but yes, she's still a puppy) and introduced her to her new home. I set up her bed in the living room and set out bowls in the kitchen. I even gave her new toys! She loved the squeaky hedgehog with the Santa Claus hat.
We took walks around the neighborhood. I introduced her to the Samoid next door. His name is Mumba. Cheyenne kept a close eye on the neighbor's decorative reindeer in case – you know – they attempt to conquer the world. She pounced on her hedgehog and played keep away instead of fetch. Our first few days together were great!
The first few nights, however, were a bit rough. Cheyenne has anxiety. It's common in German Shepherds. When bedtime rolled around, Cheyenne would curl up on her bed and get comfy for a few hours. Then she would start pacing. My house is laid out in a circle so she literally walked in circles all night. All my floors are hardwood so all I heard at night was the "click click click" of her toenails. It drove me crazy. She was going crazy. I think she was looking for my dad or my mom's dog or just something familiar.
I did my best to get her settled in. My fiancé and I treated her like a princess. We took her to visit my parent's so she would realize they're not gone forever.
But it didn't work. Cheyenne's anxiety got worse. She stopped eating for a couple days. She wouldn't come out of her crate unless I coaxed her outside. She stopped playing with her squeaky hedgehog.
After 2 weeks of frustration, worry, disappointment, and a lot of tears, I told myself to make a choice. Option 1: Keep Cheyenne, take her to the vet, and put her on Xanax for the rest of her life. Option 2: Take her back to my parent's house where she's comfortable and happy without the assistance of medication.
Sure, I want her to live with me more than anything but more so I want her to live where she's comfortable and happy. She's 11 years old. She's set in her ways. She's lived with my parents for 11 years and that's where she's comfortable.
I hoped that she wanted to be with me so much that it didn't matter where we lived. I was wrong. How could I force her to wallow in anxiety for the rest of her life? I couldn't. I would rather she live where she's happy than live with me and be miserable.
So what's the lesson here? The unconditional love of one person cannot eliminate your anxiety.
A new relationship – whether platonic or romantic – will not necessarily cure your anxiety. An old relationship in a new environment will not necessarily cure your anxiety. You cannot expect one person to make you unconditionally happy. Anxiety is a work in progress within yourself. Certainly, the people around you can have a great effect on your life outlook. But anxiety as a whole comes from within and needs mending through the mind.
So while Cheyenne lives the rest of days in peace, I will live my days knowing she's where she belongs. I – one person – was not enough to eliminate her anxiety and that's okay. But I'll still be there for my best friend no matter where she lives.