Remember when I introduced you to Blossom, our new rescue doggie?
She’s been with us for almost three months now.
And for someone who never lived with a family or in a house, it’s miraculous how well she’s adjusted.
No potty accidents. No chewing issues. No separation anxiety. Just love.
So, you know when things seem a little too good to be true?
Well, it started with a little growl here and a lunge there.
And the more I walked Blossom, the more I realized she can be reactive and territorial around other dogs. .
Of course, it makes sense, given all that she went through—having to defend herself day and night on the street, fighting for every morsel she got.
But, having never had a rescue or even a dog that barked (Lucky, our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was more of an English gentleman than a dog), I wasn’t at all prepared for this.
When Blossom acted up, I stressed out. Then, my stress stressed her out even more.
Her trauma triggered my trauma.
When this little flower of a dog turned into a growling, barking bully, it shook me to the core.
And I realized Blossom isn’t the only one holding fear and anxiety from her past.
Her reactions to other dogs and my inability to control them, triggered memories of other times when life felt painfully out of control.
Like all those hellish years of my son’s addiction.
And more recently, the Thomas Fire raging within blocks of our property.
I believe that it’s no accident Blossom came into my life.
We were meant to rescue each other from our old stories. And help each other heal.
I prayed for guidance. And found it in yoga class.
Downward Facing Fear.
Rolling up my mat one day, chatted with Simone, a major “dog person.”
When I shared Blossom’s issues, she wasn’t at all fazed, urging me to be patient (not exactly my strong suit).
And to call her trainer.
Enter Gail. Part angel/part therapist.
Gail’s with Barkbusters, an international dog training company whose techniques train dog owners to become pack leaders.
A large part of the technique, believe it or not, is teaching my husband and I to “speak dog.”
The first day Gail came over, Blossom bolted to our neighbor’s fence for her daily chain-link bark-fest with the dog next-door.
In seconds, Gail stood up, made a loud, growl, “BAH!” sound and clapped her hands authoritatively.
Our jaws dropped as Blossom stopped dead in her tracks and surrendered at Gail’s feet.
Gail lovingly rewarded her a happy voice and a “Good girl.”
Teaching this old dog new tricks.
I’m happy to say I’m making progress correcting Blossom’s behavior with growls, barks and occasional squirts of water.
While my “BAH!” doesn’t command the same respect as Gail’s yet, I am learning to trust myself more. And that, in turn is helping to gain Blossom’s trust.
As I learn to take more leadership with Blossom, I’m also taking more leadership of my own thoughts.
I’ve been applying the same Barkbuster techniques to retrain my own brain.
And to get control over the fear-inducing, self-diminishing litany that My Mind hurls at me on a daily basis.
If you know what I mean, keep reading.
Try this at home.
When your Mind starts abusing you with worst case scenarios or all the things you haven’t accomplished, try standing up to those thoughts with aa great big, growly BAH!
(If someone’s around, growl silently in your head. But in your car, bark to your heart’s content.)
And don’t forget the praise part.
Instead of scolding yourself for all the items you didn’t check of your to-do list, give yourself a “Good girl” for the three things you did do.
I know it sounds a little crazy.
But since I’ve be retraining my brain, my tail has been wagging a whole lot more.
And that’s what I wish for you.
As always, I woof hearing from you. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
xoWendi (and Blossom)