Lessons from my dog
I had been pondering the addition of a pooch to our home for a few years. My analytical and practical brain could not find a logical reason to add another being with needs to our busy household. Still, the kid in me wanted the unconditional, fun, tail wagging furriness of it all!
The initial, focused search began the summer of 2017. I was led to a wonderful organization by the name of Lola’s Lucky day who rescues dogs from Texas and brings them north to loving, new homes. I drug my husband reluctantly through the home visit process to become approved as a dog owner worthy home. On December 10th 2017 Ziggy Tennant became a full fledged household member. He had been initially rescued from a shelter in Houston, TX a month after Hurricane Harvey at the age of one. A loving and generous foster family cared for and trained him for his launch into his new life in Wisconsin.
Ziggy had a rough start to life. I may never know the specifics of how he entered the Harris County Pet Shelter in Houston, but what I do know is what I observe in his behavior on a day to day basis. He appears to seek what we all want and need in life from the basic needs such as good nutrition, a cozy comfy bed for resting, a loving environment complete with touch and kind words and physical and mental stimulation.
Ziggy is a reactive, anxious dog. Our walks are filled with self-regulation training. I observe how he gradually becomes more agitated and reactive with new, potentially threatening stimuli. He sees another dog and immediately goes on the defense with barking. I believe this is a learned survival behavior which is slowly being rewired as he begins to experience other dogs as non-threatening. We practice sitting and settling to help him feel what calm, safety is like in his body and mind. Then we gently move forward onto the next experience that lies around the corner. When he gets overwhelmed (seeing more than 4 dogs in a 30 minute walk), I pick him up, hold him close and remind him that he is safe. He immediately begins to calm when held and can’t seem to experience enough close, safe contact.
I am reminded that I too need to approach each moment and day with an awareness of my own mental, emotional and physical state.
What am I feeling and experiencing in my body, mind and emotions?
What events are occurring in my life that are activating an elevated response in my body, mind and emotional state?
Am I taking time to pause, relax and reflect on my current state and choices before moving forward or do I carry all of my built up reactions with me as I move through my day? (this is where the re-wiring of non functional patterns begins)
Am I taking time throughout my day, week and month to experience renewing self-care?
If you wish to learn more about techniques to help you pause, relax, reflect and renew contact Lisa to create a self-care routine that fits your lifestyle.
Ornament picture I purchased in November of 2017 before I knew of pending adoption of Ziggy (there was some interesting connection occurring that brought us together)
Ziggy (amazing likeness of holiday ornament)
Thank you Ziggy for all the lessons and love!!