Ever since I can remember my mind often does this kinda quirky thing. When I’m in a situation that is daunting, or challenging I get flashes of songs or movies that bring humor, insight, alternative perspectives. More on that in a moment. This morning was one of those times. It was a challenge.
This. THIS, I told myself, was going to be the morning I get that walking in the morning routine established. So, leaving out at 7 a.m. with my two dogs I hit the trail. Initially, there is some trepidation about how my Sophie will do….my 7 year old mini-Aussie. We have had, shall I say, a “journey” together. A journey of trying to help her get over what seems to be PTSD for dogs when any dog comes within range of her eyesight. She goes into deep rabid sounding barking, screaming between barks, and lunging despite many and varied interventions.
I start down the trail with a hope there won’t be any other dogs on the trail this early.
Yes…go ahead…say it….ahhh…ohh!
Experiencing Sophie’s meltdowns, I imagine, is the equivalent of a parent watching a two year old suddenly, without warning, go into a temper tantrum in the middle of the mall. Feeling washed over by the emotions of humiliation, hopelessness, helplessness, compassion, rage, embarrassment all in a nutshell…….all the while looking for a hole to crawl into, or invisibility cloak to snatch out of thin air and don, coupled with needing to be present to the toddler and situation, and come up with some wise way of navigating through it all. Sheesh.
The first quarter mile I notice Sophie and Captain observing some previous dogs’ scents, the birds singing lightly in the trees, the close scented humid air shot with a slight breeze. “Sweet!” “Gonna go great–nobody out here much today with another dog”.
Then Sophie’s worst nightmare. Que this tune from somewhere in my head:
Oh, the offender? An elderly Black Lab with a sweet white face, and constantly wagging tail. And Nothing. Will. Console. Sophie.
As she approaches, I apologize to the owner who looks bewildered that Sophie’s screams are so loud we can’t say hello. Once again, I bend down and attempt a correction. Captain, sensing my frustration, humps Sophie in an attempt to dominate her and get her to stop. The theme in my heading getting louder (can this scene get any crazier seeming?), I raise back up, shrug, try to appear cool and collected, and mouth the words “Good morning” as I feel my face becoming beet red. Consoling is more what I need. Is there a hole somewhere I can disappear into?
Most times the owner of the other (usually more well behaved) dog passes by, giving me a meager smile and look like –“Boy! Cesar Milan would say you’re really off! What’s wrong with you”!?
I recover and go on to complete my walk. No other dog meets us. As I walk I work to shift my feeling state to gratitude. I know this will get me out of that downward emotional spiral that has overtaken me.
Deep gratitude for Sophie comes over me. I know Sophie loves me deeply. It shows in her eyes, in the way she leans on me when I stand at the range top, in her positioning herself to always be able to see all avenues in order to protect me. Compassion comes forth as I realize it must be awful for her, for it seems this is all about protection–this response to other dogs. It is probably a situation she would rather not be in either.
I suddenly realize I can give myself permission to take care of her and me at the same time by leaving her home. In the past this idea has seemed unthinkable. Leave a shepherd out of a long morning walk?! This morning, however, I realize it might actually be more loving toward her. I’ll just not look back to see her beautiful face pressed up against the window pane as I leave.
Frisbee will be the thing we do for her. I love to see her so elegantly leap in the air to catch it. She has four frisbees. She chooses which one she wants to catch on any given day. Sophie respects me more, and is more loving when we play frisbee every day.
I NOW LET GO OF THE GUILT OF LEAVING SOPHIE HOME to walk with my other, docile dog, Captain. I now give her the gift of peace to not experience that situation again. Oh, I’ll take her on occasion, but only to places like a mountain trail where there aren’t likely to be other dogs around.
I now give myself permission to have fun on my walks. I now give myself permission to do whatever it takes to help me and my family stay calm, happy, and relaxed.
May your day be filled with peace, love, and joy!
Please take time to tell me your dog stories below. Share this post with your other dog friends. Let me know if you would like to hear from me on another subject matter having to do with living a better life.
with Sophie “Bitey Spice” Pierce