Monday, August 04, 2008

Dogs and Emotions

You wouldn't think getting a dog would bring up so many emotions. Well, one expects emotions such as excitement, some concern about what having a dog will entail, etc. I found something else, though, when I started seriously looking for a dog to adopt over the past week or two.

I'd been thinking about it for some time. I assumed I wanted a collie or a sheltie but kept thinking it wouldn't be fair to the dog when the summers get so hot here. (We've already had over 40 days where the high was over 100 degrees this summer and since it's only the beginning of August we can expect quite a few more. Dearly as I love collies and shelties I can't help but feel it would be selfish of me to have one here.) But...maybe. Did I want to find a breeder or rescue a dog from a shelter? There were financial, ethical and breed specific issues to consider.

I started looking. The only dog I found that I liked—and she is such a sweetheart!—is probably a spaniel pointer mix. (Maybe. Since she's in a shelter, no one knows for sure.) Great! Except...it threw me. I found all kinds of emotions welling up. When I stepped back, I realized that having collies is tied up in my mind/emotions with the situations I was in when I had them. My collies were my refuge then and there were reasons they were the only kind of dog my family would consider.

Not getting a collie meant challenging assumptions I'd had for so long—and didn't realize I had.
Not getting a collie also meant letting go of that part of my life and stepping into new possibilities. Which should have been a no brainer GOOD thing! But our minds seem to be wired to fear new possibilities—at least mine is. I had to consciously choose to remind myself that this could be great in terms of freeing my mind to see lots of things in a new way.

Not getting a collie felt like betraying the ones I'd once had—especially once I admitted to myself that they hadn't been perfect and/or that maybe I didn't want some of the challenges that go with caring for a collie.

I went 3 times to look at the dog. The first two times it was as if I was afraid to let myself get attached to her. And yet...in so many ways she's a perfect choice. There's something about her. She's a sweetheart. Even though she comes from a shelter, she was fostered for 6 months (since she was a puppy) so she's socialized to a large degree. She's trained to walk with the person holding her leash—rather than tugging them over (the way my collies sometimes used to do). She's not too large, she's not too small. She has the calmest temperament of any dog I've ever owned. And did I mention that I can take her for walks without her trying to pull me over?

But I wanted to be sure I'd truly fall in love with her—because every dog deserves to be loved. I waited to be sure I could welcome her with joy into my life.

And now I've finally put in the application. Assuming it gets approved, I may have her home by this time next week. (They will spay, microchip, test and vaccinate her before I get to take her home. That's AFTER they process my application and assuming they approve it.)

I didn't expect the emotional stuff all of this brought up. At the same time, I'm thrilled to be able to let go of leftover limiting beliefs I didn't know I had. I share this with all of you because knowing that things can bring up unexpected emotions when we least expect it makes it easier to cope—at least for me—when they do. And hey, you're my friends so I figure it's good to share my happiness with you, too! And I am happy that soon—I hope!— I'll be bringing home my new dog.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))),
April_optimist

9 comments:

gypsy-heart said...

April dear..this is wonderful!!
I do understand about the mixed emotions. You've heard me talk about Ringo my dog guru. He came from a safe animal shelter..and I couldn't ask for more!!

Keep us posted, and I hope you will share pictures. :)

Good energy and peace of heart to you!

~gypsy-heart

keepers said...

we can't wait to see pics of your new addition, she sounds beautiful and gentle. we think you will be approved and she soon will be yours to love and care for and vice-versa!

hugs

keepers

Anonymous said...

Oh, April - congratulations!!!! How wonderful!!!!

Personally, I believe that dogs are spiritual beings and I'm not open to discussion on it. My pups have literally saved my life - on my than one occasion - and talk about emotional hangovers?

For me, there has been no better remedy for one of those things than my dog, convincing me to get up, get out, go for a walk (or a drive for an ice cream, LOL).

Survivor, Thrivor - or one of those lucky folk Jack Nicholson referenced as eating noodle salad in "As Good As It Gets" - dogs just make life better.

I am so happy for you and your new pup!!!! (Positive thinking here, your application will be approved.)

Congrats!
Rebecca in Texas

Enola said...

I can relate. I was determined that I wanted a german shepard mix. My favorite dog to which I was emotionally attached was a shepard mix. When we went to the pound to look at them, I just couldn't find one that looked like my childhood dog. Then I saw Tallie - a beagle/dachsund mix (we guess). My childhood dog was a shepard/beagle so in some ways Tallie fit. But it wasn't what I had my mind set on.

All that to say, Tallie is the best dog ever. I'm sure your dog will be too. Shelter dogs are like us survivors - abandoned and alone and grateful to have someone come along and love on them. They also make you get up each morning to meet their needs. Well...you can lie in bed, but I don't recommend that with a puppy !!!

I hope your application is approved soon. Have you got a name picked out

Clueless said...

For me dogs, bring out all sorts of emotions sad, happy, maternal, depression, disappointment, love, happiness and silliness. I hope your pal arrives soon.

Woof, Woof!!!

Strong and determined said...

Congratulations on your decision, and on the addition to your family. I think it is great that you can not only note that you have limiting beliefs, but that you are working through the emotions that go along with that. :) I haven't ventured into getting a dog yet, although the kids do beg me to. Can't wait to see some pictures!

Thanks for your supportive comments on my blog. I have been working through a lot of marital issues, and it has really stalled my progress in dealing with my past. I wasn't ignoring your comments, and I really did appreciate them! :)

jumpinginpuddles said...

thankyou for all your support on our blog and in our life

April_optimist said...

Gypsy-Heart, Still waiting!

Keepers, Thank you. From your mouth to God's ears...

Anonymous, I'm with you about animals as spiritual helpers!

Enola, I smiled as I read your comment. As for names...maybe Sophie. But that could change once I get her home and really get to know her.

Clueless, You and me both. Thank you.

April_optimist said...

Strong and Determined, (((Hugs))) on the marital issues. Thanks for your good wishes.

Jumping in Puddles, What else are we all here for if not to be a support to each other? And it's so easy to want to support someone like you!