Friday, May 1, 2009

Life with Shadow

Shadow's had a rough start to the year. Why? Because I did. I was filled with anger and anxiety. A lot of fear. Residual, unresolved stuff from a trauma last year. It just bubbled up and showed in her before I was aware that it was coming from me. At Christmastime she began acting like Cujo whenever a delivery person or stranger approached the house. She stood on her hind legs and flung herself at the full glass door. Fortunately it's some sturdy glass, what they call a "full light" wood framed heavy glass. My voice/commands meant nothing at these times. She was protecting us and our territory.

Then, on walks, she began lunging at cars and other dogs, much in the way she'd behaved at the front door. My left arm became near useless for a couple of months, very painful, from inflammation developed by holding her tight while she lunged. I began walking her with treats in my hand, anticipating the moment, getting her to lay down until the car or dog passed, then rewarding her. Things remained dicey. I got a gentle lead and that worked. She only flipped out once on that. But today, and yesterday (the gentle lead left at a friend's house) I walked her on the old extension leash. And she was GREAT! She did not always come when called immediately but we worked on that. The big joy for me is that right away I realized I am calmer, more settled in my emotions, so she is too. Tonight, walking at the dark side of twilight, I became fearful for a few minutes on part of the walk. I realized she immediately lost her easy gait and seemed on guard again. I thought about pheromones. I'll bet she smells the change in me when I am anxious or fearful. What an amazing creature. My therapist on a leash. Keeping me conscious.

I'm very grateful. And I feel a responsibility to do the best I can at taking care of myself so that she doesn't suffer along with me when I don't.

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