I hope someone can help me cultivate some fondness for my dog. I know most people who come to this forum are probably ardent animal lovers, and might not understand how I can not love my dog, but I don't feel anything for him and would like to do better.
We decided to get a dog a few years ago because my oldest son seemed to really love animals and he always spent lots and lots of time with my in-laws' dogs when we were visiting. We thought, "This boy should have a dog!"
However, when I went to the shelters and the adoption days, they would not let me adopt because I said I wanted an outside dog. When I was growing up in a small Southern town, all the dogs were outdoor dogs. Almost everyone in our neighborhood had the chain link fences around the backyard with the hand-made wooden doghouses, so to me that was normal.
So I started to try to wrap my mind around having an animal in the house. Eventually I got to where I was comfortable with the idea of an indoor/outdoor dog, and we came up with a plan for what areas would be off-limits to the dog and what areas he could have access to.
The dog we ended up getting was headed for the pound. A family we knew had decided that they couldn't take care of him anymore and they had been looking for someone to take him in, but hadn't found anyone. We decided to take him because A.) He was the age and breed we'd been told were best for kids, B.) We wanted to keep him from going to the pound, and C.) We felt sorry for the family's kids, who had raised this dog from puppyhood and were going to miss him.
So, we've had him for 3 1/2 years, and I just don't feel any sort of attachment to this dog. I enjoy walking him--it's my only exercise. He has calmed down a TON since we got him -- he had NO training and NO manners when he came to us, and he has gotten sooooo much more manageable. He's not a bad dog. But he does not inspire warm cuddly feelings in me. There's no bond. I get disgusted when he has eye boogers, I hate the dog hair that gets everywhere, and I fantasize about leaving the barking collar on him 24-7, but of course I can't because that would give him sores. I only use it if he has to go outside when neighbors might be sleeping.
I understand now that we got him for the wrong reasons, and that we should have listened to the shelter people who discouraged me from getting a dog. But we have him now, so I want to make my life more bearable. How can I get to a point where I feel positive feelings for him? BTW my oldest son does pet him and give him affection, and he is also in charge of feeding and watering him, but I have to do everything else--walk him, pick up his poop, etc. I even had to get up at 2 in the morning and go downstairs to calm him down during a thunderstorm even though my husband was awake watching TV downstairs and I am 7 months pregnant.