Wed, 02 Sep 2009 19:01:00 +0000

Leaving my house is hard nowadays.

Every time I close my door, my dog Rainbow lets out a high-pitched squeal. It breaks my porcelain heart. She whines and whines — I can hear it outside my apartment.

I looked up on the internet why she does this: Rainbow is scared, experts say — she thinks her pack is ditching her.

Rainbow is a peek-a-poo — a fluffy white dog who likes to lie next to you and be petted. And she is new to the city. For the past 10 years, she lived in Kansas, rolling around on green grass and running around in a two story house. Now, I’m asking her to squat down over cold concrete and sit still in a one-bedroom apartment. I don’t blame Rainbow for being scared. I was scared when I came to the city.

She and I aren’t all that different, you know. My first day of preschool, Mom dropped me off at school and, when she tried to leave, I screamed Bloody Mary and cried for an hour — Mom stuck around. When I was out of tears, she told me she’d be back at the end of the day. I agreed, but I stared at the door the entire day, anxiously waiting for Mom. Later, I learned Mom stuck around the whole day. She hid in the back, watching me — making sure I didn’t cry.

I left Rainbow at home yesterday while I was at work. As I left, I closed the door quickly but stayed outside the door, hoping she would stop squealing soon. But she just kept going.

I’m sure Rainbow knows I’m going to come back home every time. I’m sure she knows I won’t ditch her. But she’s still scared; she’s still anxious — and she let’s me know with her high-pitched whines.

Her anxiety rubs off on me. It ruins my mood.

I am an anxious person. I overanalyze, I over think and I obsess to the point of being unable to concentrate. When I am overwhelmed, I can think about nothing except how to make the source of my anxiety go away, even if it’s out of my control.

I don’t think much about how I’m affecting people around me.

Hearing Rainbow’s whines, I realize how much my anxiety can rub off on others.

Today, I locked my door as quickly as possible and ran down the street before Rainbow could let out a squeal. It was for my own good.

But here’s where we differ: When I see her after work, she forgets all about the eight hours of being alone and she runs up to me as if I were made of bacon. After my anxious fits, I cause more of a fuss.

I’m learning.

I hope, soon, we can both be at peace.

Then I can truly embrace the moment when I come home from work, and Rainbow is sitting at the front door, wagging her tail, waiting to be hugged.