Wednesday, September 03, 2008

More Lessons Sophy is Teaching Me

You'd think that would be a short list. Well, maybe not if you've ever had a dog. But I'm surprised at how much Sophy is teaching me.

This past weekend my daughter brought a friend with a dog over to meet Sophy. The two dogs got along fairly well though there were some rough spots. At first Sophy was a bit too aggressive then when the other dog snapped at her she got very, very submissive. When my daughter brought out one of Sophy's toys (I'd put them away) for the dogs to play with, Sophy got very, very upset at the idea of the other dog having her toy.

What I realized was that Sophy must have encountered some very aggressive dogs in her short life. And my heart hurt for her—knowing what it's like to not be sure how to interact in ways that are neither too aggressive nor too submissive. It took me longer than I like to remember how to figure out what was appropriate.

I also realized she may never have had anything that was truly hers—that couldn't or wouldn't be taken away from her. I understood what that fear was like, too. And that desperate desire to have some things that were one's own to keep just for oneself.

I understood that cringe reaction when someone's hand came too close and she was afraid she would get hit.

I understood in the way she kept climbing into our laps, her desperate desire to find someone who would represent protection, safety and love and never, ever being abandoned again. And I recognized that desperate desire to please in hopes of gaining that safety.

I bought a retractable leash and discovered she's better on walks now than she was when I used a short fixed leash. She can run ahead or back and explore and keeps coming back to me in between. When she was on a regular leash she always pull too hard, as if afraid otherwise she'd never get a chance to explore all the things she wanted and needed to see and smell.

I don't feel that desperation any more. I know I'm safe. I know that I can have things I love that are mine and if for whatever reason I lose one or more of them that there will be others just as good. I know now how to be at ease with almost anyone. But I remember. And so I am taking care to make sure Sophy can feel safe, can feel loved, can know that her things are hers.

What it did for me was highlight the expectations I once had and echoes of those expectations I might still feel in certain situations. It reminded me that I may still limit myself needlessly at times because of what once was my reality—if I don't consciously challenge the assumptions I still carry inside.

Watching Sophy duck a Frisbee rather than running to catch it, I see how fear robs one of joy one could be having playing.

When Sophy dashes out the front door and into the street before I can catch her, I realize that her fear of being abandoned causes her to do things that put her in harms way—and I am reminded that I need to be sure that a fear of being abandoned doesn't cause me to act equally dangerously.

I know that in the days ahead, the time I'm taking to help Sophy feel safe and secure will pay off. And I am reminded that the time I take to make sure that I feel safe and secure is just as important for me.

Here's hoping all of you are able to find ways to feel safe and secure a little more than you have before. Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))).

April

PS Here's a picture of Sophy in front of the gate she's pulled open at one side....

8 comments:

Kahless said...

Thanks for the piccie of Sophie. I remember when we first got Ben about 7 years ago, at hearing any raised voice, he would cower. A baby's cry on the tv, and he would run and hide.

I am pleased to say that today he never cowers. Cos he is now used to a house of security and love.

Tamara said...

Dogs are so wonderful! Mine teach me things and make me laugh every single day. Glad you are enjoying Sophy. She is lucky to have a home where she is so cherished.

Amy said...

This is absolutely beautiful. A perfect picture of the give and take and ebb and flow of healing and learning to trust and learning to live. Thank you for sharing all of this and for your sweet heart.

Karma said...

Sophie is SO cute! I miss my dog!

gypsy-heart said...

So Sophie, guru dog, is already teaching us. :)

Looking forward to hearing more lessons as this unfolds.

Thank you for sharing Sophie with us.

keepers said...

drawing the parallel between Sophy and you and for that matter any of us is a splendid way of bringing those things to our attention, a wonderful post!

peace and blessings

keepers

jumpinginpuddles said...

its amazing how abnimals and abuse are so similar to our rectiosn to abuse. thank goodness sophie has you.
We thought youd liek to read this version of why we quit with mon
http://lifespacings.blogspot.com/2008/09/truth-about-what-really-went-on-that.html

April_optimist said...

Kahless, Ah, how nice to know that now Ben feels so safe. Sophy is geting better about things, too.

Tamara, Isn't it wonderful having dogs? I'm so glad you have some, too.

Amy, Thank you.

Karma, (((Hugs))) Are you ready, maybe, to get another one? Or isn't that possible right now?

Gypsy-Heart, My pleasure! I love talking about Sophy.

Keepers, Thank you.

Jumping in Puddles, Yes, the parallels are interesting. I'll have to go check out that post.