On Leaving: Making goodbye into a treat for my dogs

The looks I get from my dogs when they know I'm preparing to leave.

The looks I get when they know I’m preparing to leave.

They know.

They always know.

Whether I’m making a quick trip to the grocery store, or will be gone for three days on a trip to yet another writers / bloggers / pet conference, my dogs know.

They see the purse, or hear the jingle of the keys. They watch me drag the suitcase out of the basement, lug it upstairs, and wander around from room to room, gathering travel essentials. They watch me with pleading eyes. I’m going to leave them. 

They know.

But they also know that every time I walk out the door, they get a treat. Could be a dog biscuit, or a sweet potato chew, or a bully stick. Whatever it is, the item is carefully chosen to be highly desired, and to take only a few minutes to consume—enough time to keep the dogs entertained and distracted while I walk out the door, yet not so much time that the cats realize nomables have been distributed, which could result in an unsupervised discussion over what belongs to whom.

So when departure time is nigh—and they always know nigh—Lilah, Jasper and Tucker gather in the traditional spot for the distribution of the Leaving Treats: at the edge of the dining room, right by the foyer at the bottom of the stairs.

A strange spot for a goodbye scene, but one that evolved back in the days when the dogs were restricted to the dining room when we left the house, and I handed them treats over the gate before we left—after asking to work for their reward of course: usually a Sit or a Down. 

Eventually we removed the gates, and the dogs were given full run of the place while we’re gone, but I kept our goodbye ritual the same. Now, as soon as the dogs see me walk toward the foyer, they dash to the dining room, anticipating the moment when I reach into the treat jar or—even better—open the door to the Vault Of Magical Goodness (the hall closet, where I keep larger chewables).

They bounce at my heels, tripping over themselves as they scramble to the dining room. They’re so well trained in this ritual that sometimes I only have to flick my finger and they’re Down with a capital D. Often, they slap themselves on to the floor before I give the signal.

As I hand them their edible treasures, each dog runs off into a different room to crunch and munch, and I can head out the door. 

But I take something with me: the image of my three pups at their most adorable selves.

It almost makes me want to stay home.

Lilah, Tucker, and Jasper waiting for their treats. Those faces!

Lilah, Tucker, and Jasper waiting for their treats. Those faces!

What goodbye rituals do you use with your pets?

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6 Comments on "On Leaving: Making goodbye into a treat for my dogs"

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  1. We have always given the boys their treats on their bedroom beds. (as opposed to the living room or office beds. LOL) When we tell them we have to go somewhere, Bentley RUNS to go get on his bed. It has been this way for 10 years now. Your gang looks so dang sweet ♥

  2. Sandy Weinstein says:

    my girls make me feel guilty each time i leave the house. i throw treats around the house to keep them busy while i walk out the door. when i come home, they are begging me to kiss and hug them and pick them up. they are waiting at the door because they hear the sound of my car coming down the road.

    • They know, don’t they. I always feel a tad guilty when I leave. But the dogs love the treats, and I know it makes the leaving better for all. Plus, like you said, it’s lovely to have such an awesome welcome home.

  3. Those are some treat-worthy faces.

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