I never thought that I would be able to have a dog.
I wanted a dog so much growing up, but my parents always told me that they already had a dog (before I was a born) so they weren’t getting another one. Once I was married, we started having kids and then moved a lot and we just never thought about it. Then my contamination OCD kicked in and I had a profound fear of poop.
I was convinced I could never have another child (diaper changes?! potty training!) let alone a dog! How could I deal with a dog? Dogs poop multiple times a day and you have to pick it up with a little plastic bag and then…carry it with you until you find a garbage can!? I remember seeing people carrying those little bags of poop and thinking “oh, heck no. There is no way I could ever do that.”
But not only do they poop, but it’s not like they wear underwear or pants. They just sit in your house, on your rug, with their poopy bottoms! Poop would get everywhere!
So obviously I could never have a dog.
A Higher Cause
But then my son got diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum disorder, and we researched the benefits of getting a dog for him. I had tried homeschooling (and failed). We had tried going to therapy with him (and failed). We were feeling a bit desperate.
We researched dogs, and I quickly decided I didn’t want a slobbery dog or a dog that shed. My son wanted a Great Pyrenees. I did a google search for something like “Great Pyrenees doodle” and someone was actually selling Great Pyrenees Golden Doodle puppies up the road from where we had just bought our cabin. We communicated, she sent pictures, and suddenly we were at Petco buying a leash and a dog crate with an appointment to pick up our puppy on a Saturday morning.
So how has it been?
Honestly, it’s been amazing. Yes, I sometimes have hard times.
Hard times have included:
- when the dog had chronic diarrhea (after some experimentation we found out he isn’t tolerant of chicken)
- when the dog poops/has diarrhea in his crate. This is disgusting. It requires a full crate clean out and dog bath.
- when the dog had diarrhea on our West Elm couch during Christmas vacation when my brother was visiting. Twice (on different days). This was a nightmare. But we literally took off all the couch cushion covers, washed and sanitized them, and let them dry. We still have this couch. I consider it a great OCD exposure victory.
- when the dog’s poop sticks to his butt. I have used butt and sanitizing wipes on my dog. I am not proud of it.
- when the dog eats something gross and the poop won’t fall and you have to pull the poop out of his bottom or it just stays there, hanging, and he runs around trying to get it off…. this is also really nasty. I use a poop bag to grab it. And then often have to wipe his butt.
- when he vomits. Luckily, vomit doesn’t freak me out as much, and it’s mostly just like regurgitated dog food pellets. But it’s still gross.
- when I have to pick up a gross poop and it’s big and goopy and gets on my hand.
This makes it sound terrible to have a dog, but it’s really not. Yes, he poops. But the plastic poop bags go over your hand and USUALLY you can pick up the poop without making any direct contact. Yes, sometimes you get a speck of poop on your hand. I freak out about this, but it’s actually a really good exposure for me to finish our walk before going home and thoroughly washing my hands.
I mean, I always wash my hands after getting home when I’ve picked up dog poop, but like those are times when I am VERY thorough.
The Good Bits
But honestly, having a dog has been extremely good for my OCD. It’s constant exposure. It is wearing down my contamination OCD. I still don’t like the dog to sit on the couch or my bed, but I’m used to him being there and have accepted his inherent dirtiness. He is part of our family.
Also, having a dog is really the best because they are the most loyal, obedient, and kind creatures. Milou (we named him after Tintin’s dog) is gentle and usually most my quiet “child.” He sweetly cuddles, plays with the kids, and gives us an excuse to go on multiple walks a day. We love him. Plus he is so fluffy. He’s like cuddling a shag carpet.
Does having pets help your OCD? Why or why not?