In our household Allen travels as much as a week or two at a time for his day job. Each pet handles Allen’s absence differently.
The cats, Cuddles and Speedy, pretty much ignore the fact that Allen is not around. Linda doesn’t notice any change in their behavior. They do tend to jump in and out of the suitcases while he’s packing, but this seems to be more of a game than a statement about what will soon occur.
When Allen returns, Cuddles is the first to rush to greet him. She’s overwhelmed by the dog but eventually breaks through the chaos to receive her pat on the head.
Speedy takes his time acknowledging Allen’s return. He’s an older guy who has seen it all and isn’t impressed with human comings and goings.
Our yellow cockatiel Sunshine screeches at the top of his lungs to herald Allen’s arrival. No easing back into the homefront with Sunshine around. He notices and remarks on everything.
Leaf, our cocker spaniel, is most affected by Allen’s leaving and returning. While Allen packs, Leaf becomes nervous as the suitcases fill up.
We take Leaf with us to the airport so he can see Allen leave and associate this, we hope, with his coming home again. As Linda drives away from the departure area, Leaf gives her a look that seems to ask, “Why did you let him go away?” Then his head slumps and he sleeps on the ride home.
During the week Leaf mopes a bit, so Linda takes him to doggie daycare for a few hours to play with his friends. He definitely sleeps more while Allen is gone, probably feeling somewhat depressed at not having his constant companion nearby. He spends time with Linda, but she’s incredibly boring compared to Allen. Leaf adores male energy and bonding.
The most fun, of course, is watching Leaf gyrate after he recognizes Allen at the door. First, he barks at the “intruder” with a fierceness that communicates, “I mean business. Get out of my house.” Then he hears Allen’s voice, and it registers: He’s home! Life is worth living again!
Leaf wags his tail with such enthusiasm that we are grateful it remains attached to his body. He rolls over to have his tummy rubbed.
After his initial joy and excitement Leaf does a very odd thing. He rushes over to Linda and with great care and an expression of gratitude in his eyes, he showers her with wet doggy kisses. This goes on for much longer than usual. It’s studious, deliberate. The message we receive during this ritual is: “Thank you for bringing him back home.”
Somehow, Leaf has associated Linda’s taking Allen to the airport (making/letting him leave) with the assumption that she’s now responsible and needs to be thanked for his return home.
Well, she’ll take those doggy kisses any way she can get them. All is right with the world, as Leaf’s pack is brought back together.
What do your pets do when you leave and return home?
Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network