I Have Severe Separation Anxiety From My Dog & I Can't Be the Only One

Ok, you guys. I have a confession to make, and I'm not even a little bit ashamed of it. Every time I have to leave my precious, pint-sized Shih-Tzu for an overnight, I feel that sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach like there's impending doom.

I know pets having separation anxiety from their owners is a thing. But is it normal for me to have it when I'm not with him? Somebody say yes. I mean, just look at him. Who wouldn't be a total basket case after handing this pup over into someone else's care?

<p>Image via Mary Hawkins</p>

Image via Mary Hawkins

Here's the thing: I know he's in good hands when I'm away from him. I've been taking him to the most wonderful pet hotel-type boarding facility for at least the past 6-7 years. Every time we pull up to the door, he runs inside in anticipation of seeing his "doggy friends." And the staff is top notch, and I know they take great care of him. He stayed with them for 8 days once when I went to Europe. And another time, he stayed for a week while I was in Bermuda. And he played with his doggy friends and had a ball and was totally fine. So WHY do I go into an anxious, almost depression-like state EVERY SINGLE TIME I have to leave him? Shouldn't I be over it by now?

I'm not a Negative Nelly. And I'm big into positive affirmations and manifestation and believing that everything will always be ok and work out. But still. The thoughts of "what if" creep into my head every time, to the point that I sometimes try to manifest the trip being canceled before I head off just so I don't have to leave him.

Related: Pet Hotel Shares the Sweet and Funny Items Dogs Bring From Home

Sometimes, I Even Fly Him To Florida Instead

Ok, so I know I said I left him at the pet hotel when I went to Europe and Bermuda. But now that he's almost 11 years old and is no spring chicken, I can't fathom the idea of getting on a plane and leaving him (barring an unforeseen emergency where I have no choice). I'll only bring him to the pet hotel if I'm going somewhere within driving distance. So now, when I'm going on a trip that involves flying, I jet down to Florida with him first to leave him with my parents. Yes, I buy a plane ticket and pay the additional fee for my pup just so I can fly back home to Connecticut and then get on a plane and fly somewhere else.

And let me tell you, this dog ADORES my parents. They're not just his grandparents. They're like his second parents. And he loves his Florida home because he digs the snowbird life. But still. Even LEAVING HIM WITH MY PARENTS gives me anxiety for the first hour or so after my departure.

Of course, they take the most excellent care of him and I know he's being spoiled, loved, and totally pampered. But sometimes, I still miss him so much, I can't take it. Which is why I can't help but capture our reunions on film when I return from said trips. Look how happy he is!

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The little spins get me every time. That's his signature move.

Apparently Pet-Related Anxiety Is a Thing

So because I wanted to reassure myself that I'm not alone in freaking out over leaving my pup, I did some Googling (because what else does one do?). As it turns out, according to Psychology Today, studies have shown that people experiencing separation anxiety from their pets truly is a thing, and not surprisingly, those who are extremely bonded to their pets (he is not a dog he is my child) feel it even more intensely.

So there.

I'm not crazy, or being over-protective, or a total worrywart. I just happened to have found my soul mate in a dog, and it's totally understandable for me to lose my (insert expletive here) over the thought of being away from him.

On that note, my son and I are heading to Maine this summer, and this time, we're bringing our precious fur ball with us. So I should be totally cool, calm, and collected, right?

If that's the case, why am I ALREADY having anxiety about leaving him at the vacation rental to venture into town for dinner? What if we go out for 2 hours and his separation anxiety kicks in? What if someone breaks into the house and steals him? What if something happens to us while we're out and we can't get back to him, and he's all alone in a VRBO for the rest of his life?

Clearly, I'm a lost cause.