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Life ain’t always easy

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12-09 edit

So, it’s been a strange afternoon. I met with someone new today: a dog behaviourist called Mark, who came to our home. He smelt good (he has three dachshunds) and he brought treats (always good) but the treats weren’t exactly free. I was supposed to do things to get the treats. Strange, right?

As some of you will know, I’m an anxious fella around my fellow canines. When my Uncle Bracken was staying with us last year, I felt great. I had my own personal bodyguard at all times. He made me confident. “Squirt, leave everyone to me,” he said. We’d be at the park, or at Newhailes, and whenever dogs approached they went to sniff Uncle B, who didn’t react, didn’t stress, didn’t fuss; he just let them have their sniff and move on. Meanwhile I had skirted around the situation, undisturbed. And when someone was on approach that Uncle B didn’t like the look of, well, he barked. He stood his ground and he barked. And no one, and I mean no one, messes with Uncle B when he’s in full voice.

But then Uncle Bracken went back to live with Grannie, and things shifted. My fear of canines got worse. I’d go to the park and feel vulnerable. On edge. Uncertain. And this fear spread into a general anxiety of being out. Not all the time, but the first ten minutes or so after we leave home – if I’m on my own with Mum – I’m not exactly a happy pup. Noise, people, distant barking, traffic…. it can be anything. I refuse to walk. Sometimes I shut down. It passes, but it’s not good while it lasts. If I’m with Mum and Dad, I’m much better. In fact I’m fine. Two Parents: good. I’m safe. One Parent: scary. What can I say, it’s complicated.

So Mark is trying to help me learn some new tricks so that rather than focussing on the things around me that make me scared, I focus on, well, other things. Good things. Like treats. Like walking at heel beside my Mum.

Hang on, walking at heel, did you say….? Ah yes, I don’t do that unless I feel like it. So Mum and I have to learn walking at heel together, even when I don’t feel like it. I’ll be honest with you, I’m not entirely sure about this…

“This is a good thing,” Mum said. “A big part of life that you and I are meant to enjoy together is going out for walks, even when your Dad’s not around. This is meant to be fun, not stressful.”

“But it’s strange,” I replied. “I feel strange. I can’t explain it.”

“I know,” she said. “But it won’t feel strange forever. Some things just take time.”

I wasn’t sure about sharing this here. Who wants to admit to being anxious and freaked out? But so many of us go through life feeling a bit anxious about things, only we don’t acknowledge it. I see this with humans all the time. “How are you doing?” one will say when meeting another. “Oh I’m good,” the other will reply, nodding. But that’s not always true, is it? It’s what humans say because it’s ‘normal’. But maybe we just need to be a little bit more honest with each other.

So, friends, that’s what I’m doing here. There are things that I’m good at, like running on beaches and making sure the Parents don’t get lost. And snuggling, clearly. And there are things that I’m not so good at. You may look at dogs and think that we’re pretty simple beings, but we can be complex too.

So Mum and I have ‘homework’ to do. Homework. I’m not entirely sure about this either…

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5 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Good luck, Harris. You’re lucky to have a mum who loves you so much you’ve got a nice man (who brings treats!) to come and help sort this out for you…here’s to you having fun and meeting other doggies soon with no fear and enjoying all those walks. After all, Archie wants to meet you if we ever end up in your neck of the woods. 🙂 x

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    • Thank you so much *bows head*. All the support I’ve had since posting about this here and on IG has been amazing, and I’ve realised that I’m really not alone. Lots of peeps have acknowledged that they’re also anxious around other dogs, and sometimes places too. I think Mum feels relieved hearing all this. And I’d love to meet Archie too! My Mum reckons that we’d get on like a “house on fire”, whatever that means (I think it’s good). Hope you guys are having a chillin’ kinda weekend. Please give Archie a gentle WHUUUF from me X

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  2. Good luck Harris. Wolfgang has the same worries and started biting but then he found a ‘Mark’ to help him learn how to enjoy his walks. It took a long time and a lot of hard work…. But it’s worth it because enjoying walks and being able to just ‘be dog’ is very important 🐶❤️ x

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    • Thank you! It’s so great to hear that other canine peeps have experienced issues too – and got over them. When I’m at the beach or in a wood, I can definitely just ‘be dog’ and it’s the best thing in the world. That freedom… But in the city, it’s tough. Really tough. Everything feels like it’s a bit too much. Just being outside sometimes is too much.

      So I hope I can make progress like Wolfgang has. It’s good to know that I’m not alone.

      H X

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  3. Pingback: One Paw at a Time | The World According To Harris

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