My Dog Needs a Shrink

I remember well my dog’s early days–when (much to my amusement) he oscillated from feeling like the King of the World to the cowardly lion of his kingdom.

My dog, Jack, suffers from an identity crisis. And a profoundly amusing one at that. I know I shouldn’t make light of his pitiful situation. The poor thing probably needs therapy. Or at the very least, some “me time” and a generous stint at Club Med—so that he might find himself. Preferably sometime this century.

Deep within that fluffy little bichon frise head of his, lies a reservoir of confusion—the sort that fuels delusions of grandeur and fantasies beyond all canine imagining. In sum, the muttonhead fancies himself as a steroid-fed, beast-of-a-thing with anger management issues.

In reality, Jack is a creampuff. A stinking creampuff that barks at his own shadow, bobbing and weaving to and fro—thoroughly convinced that he can somehow fake it out or swallow it whole. Then again, he’s foolish enough to yap at dogs ten times his size. Dogs that could have him for lunch. Dogs that have cohunes the size of cantaloupes.

So it makes little or no sense for him to behave in such a manner—especially given the facts: He has but a veneer of courage coupled with a pervasive fear of all-things-meek-and-mild. The Caspar Milquetoast of the neighborhood. The cowardly lion of his kingdom.

That being said, my inane dog is unspeakably intimidated by a host of things for which he should possess no fear—like fire hydrants (Oh, the irony!), recycling bins and clusters of garbage cans huddled together as if trading secrets, wayward leaves that skitter like spiders across the pavement and tall, green grasses that swoosh and sway in the breeze. Even a vacuum cleaner, left for dead at the curbside one morning, apparently posed an imminent threat to my sissified little man—as did the seemingly hostile trees we encountered (i.e. the ones with “faces” cleverly tacked to their trunks). At least no apples were hurled in our direction. Nor did the trees verbally abuse us, a la Wizard of Oz.

Mind you, most of the aforementioned objects that spooked my silly dog were inanimate, as in: they were SILENT, STILL AND COMPLETELY DEVOID OF LIFE. Nevertheless, Jack still cowered in fear—and continues to cower in fear whenever we stumble upon something remotely unfamiliar. Inanimate or not. Go figure.

I suppose it could just be that Mr. Fuzzypants has an extraordinarily active imagination, allowing him to conjure up all sorts of nightmarish scenarios involving both the mean and horrible fire hydrant lurking across the street, and the forest of evildoers lining our path (read: the trash cans and trees we pass—each with a penchant for devouring little dogs that venture too near). It’s also entirely possible that that warped mind of his could have envisioned the reject-of-a-vacuum-cleaner (an Electrolux, I think) eerily coming to life, grotesquely sprouting legs enough to chase his sorry ass around the block.

In any event, I have been forced to do some utterly ludicrous things in order to allay his fears. Things that I had never imagined doing before I owned a dog—like talking to fire hydrants and discarded machinery, petting trash cans ever so gently and hugging tree trunks, all the while explaining to my dog that these seemingly horrific entities are actually his friends and that they would never, ever hurt him.

“See, Jack, he’s a gooooood fire hydrant…and this is a niiiiiiice garbage can…and this funny-looking tree (with a face, no less!) would never dream of snatching up a sweet little doggie like you. Wouldn’t you like to say ‘hello’ to Mr. Tree? See him smiling, Jack? I think he likes you!” Of course, under my breath I grumbled and groused, raising a multitude of valid objections—like how stupid I felt and what an exercise in absurdity this was, and “Why couldn’t he just lose the paranoia already?!” Then, of course, I prayed to God that no one was watching the idiocy unfold before them.

Not surprisingly, that would make people wonder what sort of crisis (identity or otherwise) I was experiencing.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel



Filed under Doggie Diamonds, Rantings & Ravings, Vat of Complete Irreverence

34 responses to “My Dog Needs a Shrink

  1. When I see this kind of dog I always wonder whether really dogs are the descendants of wolves or not. Please do not misunderstand I had 5 dogs in my life including a small one like Jack and I loved all of them. I heard that the DNA code of dogs and wolves has been found to be almost identical and most domestic dogs of today are believed to be the descendants of the grey wolf. A wolf won’t have this kind of crisis like Jack’s maybe because he/she is too busy in surviving … Dogs wouldn’t have instincts wolves have. Can this paradox be compared with us humans? What is our ancestor? It’s hard to think that is a different mammal but if there is such a big gap between wolves and dogs maybe our ancestor is …

  2. Oh my gosh. Dogs are so weird!!! The minute you think they’re smart, they do something completely goofy like being scared of a fire hydrant.

    My boyfriend used to have a GIGANTIC malamute who thought that a teeny tiny horse decoration/sculpture on top of a brick mailbox was real. He hated that tiny horse and always tried to climb the mailbox and bark at it all mean and whatnot.


  3. Linda

    I love your dog. But can’t be mom dog.

  4. I wonder if they do have shrinks for dogs. If they do maybe you should enroll your dog. I know that they have dog whisperers. Cute dog though. What breed is he? He looks like a toy poodle.


  5. This is great!!! My little 3.5 pound pup is much the same. But I never considered petting the garbage cans to help him out!!! Enjoy life on your planet.

  6. Hmmmm…..maybe I could go with your dog…..I could use a little help, too………..

  7. My planet’s name is actually Fred. (It’s also a parental planet.)

    Strange about our (much adored) pets, their personal proclivities, as quirky as any child’s. But tougher to reason with them.

  8. Both your dog and mine need therapy! Maybe group therapy? My dog is a golden retriever spaniel mix so she’s a little pistol…all the time. She’s a spayed dog but she likes to mount dogs of all sizes to show her dominance…. but if other dogs try the same thing or try to herd her, she gets angry…really angry!
    Also I thought my street was the only one with a face on it! Kinda weirded me out at first!

  9. missyujin

    I think most Malteses have that issue. I had a Maltese and she’d growl at the biggest (and probably the meanest) dogs, convinced she’s bigger and stronger than them. It’s adorable though! 🙂

  10. Pingback: Check, check, check it out….. « Laggylife's Blog

  11. Hi Melinda,

    I chuckled at your charming story about fearful, furry, little Jack. From his breed, he seems very appropriately named (Friese) because of his tendency to freeze in fear at all the threats around him (trees, garbage cans…). And, he reminds me of a much larger dog (a Newfoundland) that was equally fearful of garbage cans–especially ones that huddled together (“yikes”).

    At the suggestion of a friend, I just started a blog at And, as I think of stuff, I drop it in there. (It’s fun and a great release when I’m feeling down.) But, having read your funny stuff, I feel inclined to spend more time on humor, which I love.

    Here’s wishing you continued fun with your blog.



  12. brilliantmindbrokenbody

    One thing that can really help a dog deal with their fears is recieving treats in the presence of the scary thing.

    My service dog, Hudson, is a real chicken. If it’s inanimate and makes noise or moves at all, he’s skittering away as fast as his paws can carry him and as far as his leash will allow him. He’s afraid of other dogs, even dogs a quarter his size. He startles violently if he gets barked at. His own shadow makes him jump occasionally.

    So when he gets scared, I sit him down and give him treats and tell him how good he’s being. It takes a little time, but dogs learn to associate a good thing (treats) with the formerly scary object, and suddenly it’s not nearly so scary.


  13. Maybe he has the power to talk to everything, and they say horrible things to him that you can’t hear.

  14. ellie072

    LOVE this!!! One of my dogs barked at a log for a good half hour once….and I started getting nervous after about 15 minutes wondering if maybe she was seeing something I wasn’t…and there we stood in the back yard, her barking, me with my shotgun aimed at a harmless log (ok, it was the kid’s gigantic squirt gun…)

  15. Greetings,
    Should you ever want to chat with your dog and find out what’s really going on in his head, let me know.

    I work with animals and provide my services as an animal communicator for such groups as the Humane Society on a regular basis.

  16. Great post! I had heard of you but hadn’t yet read your work–I now feel like I’ve found my virtual blog mentor. I’ll be reading religiously from now on. …And this post in particular makes me realize my daughter’s obsession with getting a dog will be great for my blog, if not my sanity.

  17. I feel your pain! Our dog must be Jack’s long lost cousin. She can scare herself just walking across the kitchen floor, she looses her footing as she tries to run away from some mysterious noise and creature following her, about to “attack” her. I get so embarrassed by her inability to control her neurosis that I’ve taken away her walking privileges. I just keep her in the house, hidden away, or she’ll attack any person/dog/shadow we come across as we walk down the street.

    Aren’t dogs supposed to be happy, friendly companions? Without the need of a therapist?

  18. LOL… I think my dog needs some support too, maybe not a Shrink,but an anger management course. He’s just so angry… lol

  19. Now I think that my dog is not alone in the world. I have a mix not sure what kind she is but she is a funny little thing. She finds her self wanting to chase anything that moves out side but once in side. Now that’s a different story. I find her to be afraid of every thing the ceiling fan. The lights if they are on, Even her own shadows. My dog really needs a shrink.

  20. Such a cute dog! I also have a bichon but a Cuban bichon, quite a circus dog:).

  21. Great post. Mine are TERRIFIED of Halloween lawn decor. Judy is still recovering from last Fall’s neighborhood stroll in which she encountered a 7 ft spider.

  22. stocktoc

    Hahaha! I loved reading this! We have an 80-pound male labradoodle who is actually quite smart AND brave most of the time, but he chooses the strangest inanimate objects to be afraid of (like tiny plastic deer in a neighbor’s yard). One night he spooked when he saw a person on crutches for the first time. Her silhouette didn’t quite seem right to him, so he nearly dragged my husband across the road in an attempt to flee from the woman.

  23. Your little ball of fluff reminds me of mine. He gets freaked out by the vacuum cleaner too. He plays with hunting dogs and lives with a pit bull and thinks he can bully them all around, even though he’s 8 pounds.

  24. hehe… this is funny.. nicely done….

  25. Dee

    Thoroughly enjoyed your article about ‘Jack’. Lost my bichon 2 years ago due to an aggressive form of cancer. The poor pup had 2 tumors: 1 on heart and 1 on spine. It happened so fast. All I remember from my baby was that he was so kind and so jolly — a lovely companion animal. I just hated the constant need for grooming. We now have a 7-8 month old lab/chow mix who is jet black and has soft wavy hair like a newfoundland. He’s such a high energy dog that we think he maybe part border collie. I’ve been thinking of getting him a playmate (and a companion animal for me); perhaps a boston terrier. They’re clowns, just like our bichons, but they don’t need grooming! Anyway thanks for the chat. I assume the pics are of your daughters, precious. They look very close, much like me and my sis.

  26. izziedarling

    Jack may be related to my dog, Cooper. Yikes! Cooper thinks everyone on tv is in the room with us. So he barks … and barks … and barks. He weighs 13 pounds and wants to attack dogs the size of horses. He is confused. Like Jack.

  27. Pilar

    sweet dog, playing with dinosaours 🙂

  28. LSM

    Ahahaha! My little ‘lioness’ is shit-scared of mice. And the microwave. And pretty much everything, really.

  29. Jack is such a cutie pie and I loved reading about his adventures. But you left me wondering… how dooo you keep his face so shiny white. We have a beige cockapoo who cries red tears that won’t budge for the life of us. We need your secret!

    • Sorry to say I’m completely clueless in that department. Fortunately, Jack goes to a groomer who deals (expertly, I might add) with everything from horrendous grass stains to his debilitaing fear of all-things-clipperish.

  30. Shady

    I too, Shady the labrador and blog dog, am afraid of inanimate objects. No amount of “Niiicee Vaccuuumm” is gonna help me get over it either!
    I just don’t trust that stuff.. great post though ; )

  31. When my dog, Hooper was a pup, she was afraid of vacuum cleaners, and even if an old one was being silently discarded out on the street, she would cross over to the other side to avoid it completely. Thank goodness not too many people were throwing away vacuums.