Why my dog wants me to stay off the phone
I have said it at least a thousand times – dogs come to us to teach us how to become better people and show us what matters in life.
My dog Skai's no exception. When he turned seven, about half of his current age, he came up with an interesting new trick. Whenever I was on a walk with him and I took a phone call, he would refuse to continue or obey any commands until I hung up.
At first, I found Skai’s way of expressing his opinion humorous, but then I started to realize that my constant phone checking and answering became a bad habit that robbed me of quality time with my dog.
So I decided to quit using my phone on walks, but it was not easy. “What if someone needed to speak to me right then and I missed my call?!”, my inner voice whispered. “What if an important text or an e-mail came through?” I squirmed. However, deep inside, I knew that Skai was getting older and that one day, the phone calls, emails and texts will still be coming, but he would be gone.
First, I deleted my business email account from my phone and started checking emails only when I was on the computer. This was relatively easy. I had a much harder time not answering phone calls or texts, especially when I really wanted to talk to the person calling me. I repeatedly failed and felt guilty. Skai had to go on strike many times, not moving until I hung up or put my phone in my pocket.
Recently, my family and I spent the weekend in Tofino, B.C. on the beautiful, wild and rugged west coast of Canada. When we arrived, it took only a few minutes and we all were sitting glued to our phones, checking our messages and emails. I looked at Skai and I saw the look. It was as if he was saying: “Aren’t you people aware that life is passing you by while you are holding your phones, pecking at the screens while there is a beach to run on?"
I looked at everyone else and proposed we put our phones on airplane mode and go for a walk. It was the best weekend we've had in a long time.
Upon returning from Tofino, I promised Skai that whenever we go out for a walk my phone will be in airplane mode. Just think about it, when we fly or our cell phone is out of range, the messages do not run away! They just get stored until we are back.
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© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM