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Don’t Worry, Millie! I’ll Be Back

Dogs lives in the now, in the moment. How can I help Millie understand that I won’t be gone forever?

How do you explain to your dog that you will be going away for a while on a trip but you are definitely, positively going to return?

My Golden, Millie, is extremely perceptive. She knows when the suitcases and travel bags come out something is up. When she sees a piece of luggage she stares at it with apparent shock and disbelief. How could you? Why? Are you ever coming back?

Sometimes I’ll try to hide the bags until the last minute, sneaking them from the closet while Julee has her out for a walk, but somehow she always knows. And she’s never happy about it. Julee spent last month in Europe, touring her new CD. Millie had never been more than a few days without her and though she stopped sleeping up against the front door after a few nights, she moped the whole time and lost the spring in her step. She looked for Julee everywhere every time we came back to the apartment. Sometimes she looked at me like she thought I should file a missing persons report.

Now I will be going away on a tour to promote my new book, The Promise of Hope, at the end of the month and I dread Millie’s reaction. I’ll return to New York for a couple of days in the middle of it but that will probably make it worse when I leave again. If only I could make Millie understand.

Dogs, I’ve learned, live in the now, in the moment. That is why their joy and their sadness is so intense. It’s concentrated in time in a way we humans, with all our projecting and worrying about the future, will never really understand. When we leave our dogs it does seem to them like we are leaving them forever. For Millie, forever is now, not tomorrow.

I don’t think there is anything I can do to make her happy about my being gone except to pray that God finds ways to comfort her. You can help, too, by keeping her in your prayers. Thanks.

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