Why I Yelled at My (Very Understanding) Dog

"But you know what? He just sat there and took it, staring at me kindly the entire time. It was like he knew I needed to get something off my chest."

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Welcome to “Why I Yelled,” Fatherly’s ongoing series in which real dads discuss a time they lost their temper in front of their wife, their kids, their coworker — anyone, really — and why. The goal of this isn’t to examine the deeper meaning of screaming or come to any great conclusions. It’s about yelling and what really triggers it. Here, Brian*, a 38-year-old father in Chicago discusses why financial stress caused him to scream at his (very understanding) dog twice in one night.

When was the last time you really yelled?

Four days ago.

Who’d you yell at?

My dog, silly as it sounds.

Fair enough. When did it take place?

In my house. I run my business from my home. Pretty much my entire life, aside from errands and drop-offs, takes place within these walls.

Okay. So what’d the dog do?

Pretty much nothing. It hopped on me excitedly when I was on the couch and wouldn’t stop yapping. Basically, he was expressing love and excitement and happiness but I scolded him because I was not in the mood to be playful and just needed some time to myself. He was there and I was frustrated and he was the only one I could sensibly scream at.

Why were you so mad?

Stressed, mainly. My daughter just started daycare because work picked up for my husband and I and holy shit is it expensive. It’s like paying double the rent every month. It’s a top-tier daycare and he adores it, but it just adds another layer of logistical and financial stress into our lives. Who takes him in the morning? Who picks him up? That kind of stuff.

On that particular night, my husband was late picking him up through no fault of his own — traffic, late meeting — and I was stuck with clients. But the daycare charges an additional 35 dollars per half hour when that happens, which is ridiculous.

To make matters worse, I had an important client drop me because he thought I had botched some of his paperwork. I didn’t — he just didn’t like the numbers he was seeing as he’d anticipated something different. But that got me more worried about money and I started to snowball into that type of stress that happens when a few annoyances happen throughout the day.

And so you yelled at the dog?

I did. After dinner I went to the gym to work off some aggression and to just get out of the house. But I still had some frustration bubbling inside of me. I don’t ever want to yell at my husband or my son because neither deserves it. So I try really hard to not do that. But sometimes things pile up and you just need to let it out. Beats getting an aneurysm, you know?

It happened a second time too. After I yelled at him about the couch incident, I took my dog for a walk. It was chilly and he wasn’t doing his business and I just lost it. I didn’t mean to yell at my dog at all let alone for a second time but there I was yelling at him for not shitting because I was irritated by finances. Waving my arms over my head like a crazy person, too.

Did anyone see you doing it?

I don’t think so. Although someone could’ve certainly been peeping out their window. I’d like to think that no one did except the dog. But you know what? He just sat there and took it, staring at me kindly the entire time. It was like he knew I needed to get something off my chest. Maybe he didn’t need to go to the bathroom. Maybe after my first yell he understood that I needed to get my anger out of my system. Or something. He’s a good dog. I gave him extra treats that night.

*Names have been changed

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