The 5 Stages of Missing Your Dog
The 5 Stages of Missing Your Dog

Separation Anxiety: The 5 Stages of Missing Your Dog

In reality, you don't need to accept anything, move on or experience emotional growth, you just need to keep it together until the next break.
March 14, 2016
8 mins read

Craving Your Canine

In reality, you don’t need to accept anything, move on or experience emotional growth, you just need to keep it together until the next break.

By Olivia W. McCoy, University of Georgia

When you leave home for the first time to go off to school, you’re excited for life and what it may bring with its freedom and relatively less irritating atmosphere.

But you often don’t realize the heartbreaking consequences of being responsible and studious, and by consequences, I mean the only truly gut-wrenching repercussion—leaving your puppy behind.

This is a common concern for the average college kid, and it comes with its own unique stages of grief, which I have generously listed and detailed for you sorrowful scholars out there like me.

1. Denial

The first thing you do when you arrive at your bare dorm room, fresh faced and unaware of the horrors of dorm life, is decorate.

This means curtains, rugs, blankets, posters of One Direction (you may be in several different denial stages if this is the case), and of course, pictures.

Thousands and thousands of pictures of you and Buster coat the surfaces of your room as you try to convince yourself that if you cover enough wall space with pictures of your friendly furball then you won’t miss him as much. Everywhere you turn you see that pink tongue sticking out, ready to varnish you with love and saliva.

And when that’s not enough, there’s always Skype. You call your mom every day to “check in and say hi,” but you both know who you’re really calling for: The Flawless Fluffy.

Cooing at your computer may not be the most productive thing you could be doing, but it’s beneficial for your health so it’s close enough, right?

Maybe if you call enough and cuddle your pillow while you make kissy faces at your pooch through a camera it’ll be like he’s right there by your side!

But when you realize that it’s just not the same, you move on to the second stage.

2. Anger

Why does your campus have to be so far from home? Whose genius idea was it to not allow dogs in the dorms? Why does this school have to have such an ironclad and idiotic aversion to our precious pups?

The anger is all-encompassing and it fills your soul with endless hate and distrust. And so your collegiate angst begins.

It’s segregation between two legs and four at its best. There’s no rhyme or reason to these laws—except maybe the fact that most dogs are a bottomless pit of need and have a tendency to chew, destroy and soil any object they can get their jaws/paws around.

Even you have to admit that it’s true—well for every other dog maybe, but not your huggable hound, right?

3. Bargaining

Once you realize that there really isn’t a reasonable way to sneak your dog in (and you’ve exhausted all your unreasonable plans), you’ll move on to bargaining your way into any opportunity to see little Missy.

Some of the healthier thoughts:

If I study really hard for this next exam I can finish earlier and rush home for the weekend.

If I get all my work done for the next month or so, then can I justify going home every night after class and rushing back the next morning?

Some of the unhealthier thoughts:

If I tell my school that I’ve come down with Ebola or Hepatitis A, then I can go home right?

Do you think I could get my friend that looks somewhat like me to cover my attendance in class long enough for me to get on a plane, go home, love on my mutt and then fly back?

I get six excused absences in my classes. So that means I can skip eight classes to visit Max before I’m forced to retake the semester!

4. Depression

With that kind of thinking, you’ll have hit those eight absences before the midpoint of the semester and an unparalleled melancholia will set in.

Suddenly those pictures that used to make you feel happy will make a mockery of your despondency.

College becomes an institutional prison, not unlike the last 15 years of your life in public school.

Some days will be bearable. You’ll have an oddly amazing day where you ace a big test, the girl of your dreams asks you out and your last class of the day is cancelled—quite literally all that a student can dream of—but then you’ll find a bit of Daisy’s fur intertwined with your sweater and the day will be lost.

Don’t laugh, you know we’ve all been there—falling to your knees in overwhelming woe as you clutch to that fur strand and weep for dear Duke. Or maybe it’s just me.

5. Acceptance

And by acceptance, I mean realizing that there are breaks for a reason.

Just when all hope seems lost and you’re beginning to reconsider this whole “higher education” thing, semester midpoint will hit and your scholarly shackles will be unlocked and you’ll be free to leave.

In fact, you’ll be encouraged to, not even the faculty wants to have to stay behind to babysit the leftover students.

This is where the song Reunited by Peaches and Herb begins to play as you jump out of your car (while it’s still moving) to run slow motion to your dog who is waiting for you just behind that front door.

Your dilemma is solved as you’re reunited with your beautiful canine. The cycle of grief ends and you can once again feel complete—for the rest of the week at least. But the break must end and the classes must start up again and so the cycle repeats.

It’s ok though, because now you only have half of the semester left! You and Fido can count down the days together because no one loves you like man’s best friend. Am I right?

Olivia McCoy, University of Georgia

English and French
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