I’m a Treat-Obsessed Dog Mom

I work from home a lot. I have two big dogs. And treats make for sleepy, satisfied pets.


In New York City, veterinarians come to you. No more schlepping your dog to the vet in a car, no more sitting in sterile waiting rooms wondering if you should ask the person across from you about her dog in fear that the response will be “He’s got cancer” or something equally terrible. Nope. Your vet arrives at a specified time and charges you an arm or leg for this luxurious service.

I’m sure other places have vets who make house calls but New York, as always, somehow does it with flair. My vet has that calm but intense New York attitude and is uber-charming. Instead being written up in a local blog, he has been featured in Time magazine. The exams are quick and efficient (that’s the core of New York — quick and efficient), leaving time to discuss the books on your shelf and the latest Off-Off-Broadway play. The visits are so pleasant you want to set up regular monthly meetings just for the companionship. But I have two arms and two legs, not four of the latter.

Ah, this isn’t about the attractiveness of New York vets versus those in Ohio. It’s about the first visit my vet paid us, and his sardonic glance at the top of my fridge.

Why, you may ask? That’s where I keep my dogs’ treats. I believe I had six or so boxes of treats neatly lined up. There were all different types because, of course, I worry that my dogs might get tired of a certain kind and then where would I be? Falstaff, a 90-pound dog who should be about 80 pounds, would refuse to get off the bed.

Six boxes! I have to admit it sounds like a lot. It must have also looked like a lot to my vet, who pulled his eyes from the fridge to Falstaff (who, I guess, we can say is a bit chubby), then back at the treats, and then at me. The only word he had to utter was “Carrots,” and I knew I was on the Vet Blacklist, which consists of treat-obsessed dog moms and dads.

I smiled and promised to try replacing some of the treats with those crunchy orange things, knowing full well that Falstaff wouldn’t go for it. Sure enough, Falstaff was willing at the beginning. We started with a treat, then a carrot sneaked in, and then a treat, and so on. But about three days into this new diet, he rebelled and spit that scrumptious veggie on the floor with a look of distaste.

I dived into the psychology of the thing (mine, not Falstaff’s) to find out how I became this treat-obsessed dog mom and what I could do about it. I was ruthless with myself, considering my own eating follies and questioning whether I was buying my dogs’ love (the answer to that last one is “maybe a little”). But the main motivation seemed to be laziness: mine, not Falstaff’s.

If you live in a 400-square-foot apartment with two big dogs and you do a lot of your work from home, you are always finding ways to get the dogs to sleep. If they don’t get the usual amount of treats, it’s very likely they’ll sit there and stare at you as you try to concentrate on an article about them sitting and staring at you. This is unnerving and is perhaps the equivalent to a child saying to a parent “Mommy, why don’t you love me?”

Treat feeding helps induce sleepy, satisfied dogs. Treats are also useful when trying to get an old dog into an elevator, which he seems to think is some of prison. Treats are good for making dogs in an apartment be quiet when the landlord is dropping off the rent receipt. Treats work well on walks when you pass what looks like it was once a piece of pizza. And treats help get a dog off the bed, off the couch, and out of the tiny bathroom (how did he get in there anyway?).

See? Laziness. If I could just engage Cesar Millan or Victoria Stilwell, I could solve these issues without treats (and I’d be on TV!).

So the treats have been pared back. I do tricky things like give Falstaff teeny-tiny pieces so he thinks he’s getting more (yeah, right). I am fully aware that it’s my problem and that I need to fix it but it will take some time. But, for now, at least I can insure that when my vet comes over again to discuss David Sedaris’ new essays, he will see a treatless fridge top — I’ve hidden them in a Buddha cookie jar.

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