The Neurotic Dogs

When pondering whether my neurosis is learned or genetic, I often turn to the family dogs, Frazier (9) and Jake (4), and see the likelihood of a learned origin. My parents' characteristic anxiety has effectively seeped into both dogs' personas.

My mother and father are both card-carrying neurotics with drastically different sensibilities. The former engages in an overt style of panic characterized by covering her eyes when our car seems close to hitting another car that's three hundred yards down the road. The latter is more of a concealer; I would cite one of his quirks in this sentence, but the ensuing disownment would be harsh.

Frazier, a beige mix of Bichon and Poodle, arrived in our home when I was in the ninth grade. For the first few months, he struck us as an emotionally balanced individual, but it wasn't long before the wide, glassy eyes and quivering lower lip set in. Like his human siblings before him, he experienced separation anxiety in the absence of his parents. Unlike his human siblings, Frazier saw it fit to pace around the unoccupied house for hours, howling to the ceiling and holding his paw against his beating heart. Such behavior, though unquestionably neurotic, was at least grounded in recognizable childhood symptomology. It wasn't until the arrival of Jake, during Frazier's fifth year, that Frazier experienced a full-fledged nervous breakdown.

Given the instability of Frazier's ego, the appearance of Jake--an energetic full-blooded poodle with black hair and a trim gray beard--was emotionally catastrophic. When he wasn't lying on his stomach leering into the abyss, Frazier went as far as to commit acts of physical violence upon his younger brother. We knew not to be fooled by the innocent look in Frazier's eye when his leash somehow ended up around Jake's neck.

Jake, who entered our home as somewhat of a free spirit, was oblivious to Frazier's brooding melancholy. He ran and played with the best of them. He developed a flourishing social identity among the locals. However, it wasn't long before the torch of neurosis was passed onto Jake. From whose hands or paws the torch came is difficult to determine, but genetic theories strike me as inadmissible.

Jake's inaugural phobia was a fear of vacuum cleaners. We have various vacuums in our home, and Jake's fear of each is proportional to its size and volume. When the biggest vacuum is about to be used, Jake requires an explicit and descriptive monologue preparing him for what is to come. The monologue is best performed with the speaker's hand firmly applied to the top of Jake's head. We've found that with the aid of such verbal reassurances, Jake's anxiety in the presence of the vacuum cleaners has decreased by 3 or 4 percent.

By now, we're pleased to announce that Frazier has overcome his initial aversion to Jake. Not only do they dine together frequently, but they've also come to display the sincerest form of love in our family: they worry about one another. When Jake's out jogging in the backyard and Frazier's sobbing from the window, his tears run rich with affection.

About The Author

Eric Shapiro is the author of "Short of a Picnic," a collection of fictional stories about people living with mental disorders.

[email protected]

In The News:

Not my pet projects  Times of India
Keeping family pets safe when travelling  Government of Western Australia
Corp to pass bylaw for pet registration  The New Indian Express

Lemon Tetra - A Perfect Addition for Your Community Aquarium

Lemon TetraGlassily transparent, the lemon tetra (hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis) could appear... Read More

Why Crate Train My Dog?

A few years ago, before I decided to stay home... Read More

Why the Heck Would You Have a Pet Snake (or lizard, crocodile, monitor, frog, turtle etc)?

This is a question that has been asked of me... Read More

How to Maintain Your Love Affair With Your Dog: Part One - Training

Training Tips for a Happy and Healthy Relationship with Your... Read More

Grapes, Nuts, and Your Dogs Health -- Foods that Fido should Avoid

"Magoo was a big, playful Labrador retriever who often got... Read More

Sugar Gliders, Pocket Pets

Many people are searching for different means to have pets.... Read More

Hamsters Make Cute and Adorable Pets

Hamsters are soft, furry and small. They make wonderful pets... Read More

The Beauty of Boxer Dogs

Boxer dogs are an all around great breed, especially skilled... Read More

Female Dog Care

As there are certain health issues that affect only the... Read More

Parvo in Dogs

What Is ParvoParvo is a serious viral disease that can... Read More

How Are You Treating Your Pet?

Can you comprehend a time when dog food, cat food,... Read More

Indoor Dogfishing ? Fun Way To Exercise A Small Or Medium Size Dog

When I had a Toy Poodle, I used a small... Read More

How To Avoid Bad Doggy Behavior, And Teach Your Puppy Some Manners

A poorly trained dog can embarrass its owner and offend... Read More

What Type Of Food Should You Really Feed Your Cat?

What should you feed your cat to make sure he... Read More

Positive Dog Training Methods

Dog training can provide a tremendous amount of satisfaction. Every... Read More

Is A Boxer Dog The Right Pet For You?

Having a boxer dog as a pet, although low-maintenance, require... Read More

The Lowdown on Dog Vaccinations

Over the last 20 years, vaccinations have generally been started... Read More

5 Things to Know about Animal Rescue Groups

Over the past decade, breed rescue groups have become a... Read More

Is your Dog Malnourished?

Americans are more concerned about health than ever before, so... Read More

Mabeke: Gorilla Teacher

Mabeke is a young gorilla who was born in captivity... Read More

Our Pets

Having a pet is an experiance that I think everyone... Read More

Teach a Dog To Swim

You want your dog to swim?We're going to try to... Read More

Caring for an Older Cat - Cat Health and Cat Care

Cats are living longer lives thanks to dedicated care from... Read More

Alarm Clock Kitty, How to Stop Early Morning Meowing

Meow! Meow! Meow! I bury my head underneath my pillow.... Read More

So You Want an American Pit Bull Terrier?

You've made up your mind, it's the American Pit Bull... Read More