I recently ate a piece of humble pie, served up by Whiskey, my pit bull mix.
I’m glad she dished it and not anyone else, though. Having your faults exposed by your dog is harder to see – it’s not like they can tell you how you’re acting like an ass – but it does soften the blow. That’s one reason why I’ve been writing about it for the last four years so you, dear reader and fellow dog-lover, can (hopefully) learn from the kind, compassionate master curled up at your feet. You teach your dog how to roll over and she teaches you how foolish you are trying to read others’ minds.
I pretty much thought I had Whiskey figured out. Staff at the animal shelter said she had been rescued from a terribly neglectful home along with another dog and a few cats. All of them had bad health issues and bones protruding from under their sunken skin.
So when Whiskey didn’t nestle up to any of us except Rico, we weren’t shocked. Only sad that she had been starved of affection, too.
Of the six dogs I’ve had, none had relationship issues. This would be a first. Since I work from home, I figured it wouldn’t take long for her to get used to me, and it didn’t.
Progressing beyond tolerating me, however, is a different matter. For months, she’d come over to me but duck and run when I tried to touch her. I struggled to teach her not to bite me when playing.
Up until a few weeks ago, I felt pretty sure she didn’t think much of me beyond being a satisfactory food dispenser. I thought maybe her emotional scars ran too deep for her to make a connection. I decided to do my best, though it’s hard and lonely loving a black hole. It made me miss her predecessor, Roxy, even more.
One occasion, a song came on triggering memories of how Roxy loved tug-of-war as much as she loved hugs. I miss her trying to tempt me into playing when I need to focus on other things. I miss her riding shotgun. I miss how she would comfort me when I felt sad or angry. I cried, feeling small and alone.
Then I saw Whiskey poke her head around the corner. I greeted her, but buried my face in my hands. If she found me merely adequate at my best, I didn’t want to scare her further away by my worst.
Instead, she came over, somersaulted into my legs, and threw her feet in the air as if “raising the roof.” I reached down and rubbed her belly as she squirmed and grunted. I had to laugh. This went on for a bit. Then she got up and left like nothing happened.
It was long enough for me to feel better, though. And to realize how wrong I had been about her.
Self-talk is a tricky foe. Even when you think your thoughts make perfect sense, seem reasonable and fair, come from a place of love…they’re still thoughts and, therefore, subject to the whims of your ego. The best, most enlightened thoughts can be just as false as the temper tantrum outbursts.
I don’t think there is an answer. There only is what is. So let reality be without interpreting it.
At least, I think so. But you know what that means.
Thanks for stopping by today.
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