Getting The Control Freak Under Control

“Control freak” sounds harsh. “Keeping things under control so I feel safe and secure” sounds better. Please tell me you’ve also thought maintaining control makes things predictable, certain, more manageable. Regardless of the fact that’s almost never true.

If you have a pet in the family, one on whom you didn’t invest in obedience training, then you know wanting control won’t go well. Especially if one of those pets is a spunky, young pit bull mix full of piss and vinegar and a love for somersaulting into a back scratch in the most inappropriate places.

Whiskey on her back in the middle of the road

“This feels goood!”

So far we’ve been lucky—no cars have come by. I like to believe I could move her quickly if that were to happen, though. I think.

The force is strong in this one, though, and Whiskey tests my controlling tendencies daily. Sometimes I want to go forward; she goes backward. Sometimes I let her win. (It was my choice, so I’m still in control, I tell myself.) Other times, with several minutes, a ton of patience, and the highest pitched voice I can muster, I win.

 One day we both won, though it didn’t seem so in the moment. We had been wrestling the entire walk, arguing over whether or not she could eat the unidentifiable globs of whatever alongside the road. During a disagreement on direction, Rico and I went forward while Whiskey decided to hunker down and step backward right out of her harness, which came snapping back to me on the end of her extender leash like a fish out of water. Several houses stood between us and home. Behind the houses on one side of our road are woods—thick, wild, and smelling like heaven.

 Now, I’ve written about conquering off-leash fears before, but that was intended for a conscious decision to remove the leash, not an escape from one. Part of me freaked out seeing Whiskey all naked by the roadside, but I also had Rico to protect and wasn’t about to endanger him trying to catch her. That dog has had too many medical crises. Plus I’d had it with Whiskey’s stubbornness. So I clinched my jaw, said a prayer for her safety, and let go of controlling the situation.

 “She’ll either make it home or she won’t,” I told him. He looked up at me with the equivalent of a doggie shrug and we shuffled toward home.

To my surprise, she stuck with us. Granted, she didn’t come when called, but she never strayed far. She sniffed and bounced around, running back and forth alongside us, never crossing the road (thank you, Lord). When we were just two doors away, I told her to get on home. She took off sprinting. And she waited for us on the porch.

Whiskey waiting for us on the porch

“I’ve been right here, waiting all along.”

Trying to control things we have almost no control over, if any at all, is a trait we all share. It’s human. I don’t recommend tossing your pets out the front door and surrendering control to see what happens. But I do think looking for small-stakes situations where we can take a deep breath and let fate take the wheel could be beneficial. I’m going to try. How about you?

 Thanks for stopping by today.

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About Christie Green

A student of martial arts since 1995, a writer since 1999, and an animal-lover for all of time
This entry was posted in A Mindful Life with Dogs. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Getting The Control Freak Under Control

  1. Molly O'Hara says:

    I love this post, as per usual. I agree with the line of thinking that, as you said, requires looking for small-stakes situations in which one might willingly let their dog take over control.
    We’ve gotten lucky as we have just moved into a new townhouse and the complex has a large circle around it that is perfect for walking. There are several dogs but most are very friendly and I can see them coming.
    So here is a place I will occasionally drop a leash and let one dog or the other walk free. In certain safe spaces I like to give them Of course, they prefer when I find an off-leash space, but that is rare!

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