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51. The Laughing Lady

Sir Oliver's Granny

On our walks, sir Oliver and I, meet new people. Some walk bye, some say hello and others take a moment and chitchat. Some weeks ago we met a lady with a Maltese dog. Our dogs seem to like each other, up to a point where they calmly sniffed each others scent without being too much obsessed with the sniffing. Sir Oliver doesn’t like those small dogs that only want to sniff his butt over and over again, and lately he is capable of making them aware of the fact that they annoy him.

As said, sir Oliver and Boris, were able to be together for a moment in peace. At first I was occupied with the way the dogs were interacting and didn’t fully register what was happening on a human/mind level. Then I noticed that the lady was almost constantly laughing, and I mean not just giggling, no just full out laughing. I was a bit puzzled, since what I said was not so much funny, so why was she laughing so much?

After meeting this lady twice, my daughter said: ” she might be feeling socially awkward”. And all I had been occupied with was: why is she laughing, what am I doing wrong, is she laughing at me, what is wrong here? So when my daughter talked about the lady might be insecure and socially awkward, I of course understood and knew that was the case, yet I had taken it personal and was searching within my mind why she did this to me. My question should have been: what is the matter with me?

It had really been irritating me that this lady was constantly laughing, at a certain point I only heard her laughing. I was obsessed with focussing on her laughing, so what was I covering up here? When I came home I made a first commitment of breathing through the lady’s laughing the next time we would meet, getting my focus off the laughing. I then gave myself a little task for the next time we would meet, I was going to get to know this lady and her dog.

The next time I met her I let her speak about her dog, which she got from a shelter, and the dog had an abusive past as well. While listening to her story, I could see she was less laughing and more giggling now. Sir Oliver and Boris were still the same way with each other, and getting into a ritual of sniffing and saying hello to each other.

Ok, so I had not entirely focussed on the laughing of this lady and I truly did an attempt to get to know her and her dog. The lady got a face now, so to speak, and she was not only the laughing lady to me anymore. I also liked the few minutes of talking to her when we met.

Then I noticed that my mind had found other things to focus on. Now when talking to her I saw how bad her teeth were and how unkept her hair was. I was obviously not here, I was everywhere else, except for here. Yet still enjoying meeting her now and then when our walks/paths crossed.

The other day, sir Oliver and I, saw the lady and Boris walking  ahead of us. Sir Oliver started almost running, wanting to see and sniff Boris and I would have enjoyed a little chat as well. Yet, the lady didn’t see us and I didn’t want to yell and shout at her. So we saw them, but they didn’t see us and our paths parted. In that moment it didn’t feel cool, I felt rejected, while I could perfectly well see that the lady had not seen us.

It was time, I had to look into this point, why was I trying to find flaws in the other and why was I feeling rejected? And then I could see the sore spot. There is this pattern going on in my life where I move a lot and meet a lot of new people. Most people live in my new environment already their whole life, have their friend groups and do not feel they lack anything, let alone a friend or friendship. So I have been feeling like the odd one out for many years, which then became a pattern of fearing to become the third wheel.

What I had been doing with the laughing lady was already finding ways why I would not want to be socially engaging with her. Just like with relationships, breaking up before the other might break up with us. I had activated a defense mechanism to not get hurt, yet I was setting myself up for disaster. And I ended up being socially awkward, not wanting to get too close out of the fear of getting rejected.

So when I could see that I was the one not accepting me and therefore reflecting it on to this lady, finding flaws and become obsessed with it, I had to change my stance completely. Meeting people is meeting people and is not yet a relationship as in friendship. I had to slow down big time, in my mind I was already in a friendship and breaking up almost simultaneous with this lady. That’s fast living!

Now I take it in the moment and enjoy the moment of human contact without any expectations what so ever. Because why missing out on the good part when it is presented and only spend time up there in my head, cooking up the worst case scenario of something that is not even here? Making friends is something that happens or not, making friends with myself is something I can direct, so that’s what I will do, and enjoy others that cross my and sir Oliver’s path.

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50. A Little Homesick

Sir Oliver's Granny

This weekend was the weekend sir Oliver had to be taken to our dog-sitter. It was as exciting for me as for sir Oliver, only my excitement took place before the event and his during his stay with the dog-sitter.

We picked this couple to be our dog-sitters due to getting to know the man and seeing him being so calm and sweet with sir Oliver. It was one of the man of the foundation we got sir Oliver from, that did a house call to see if all was going fine with sir Oliver.

At the end of the morning this Saturday, we brought sir Oliver to the dog-sitters. We put up his dog bed in this strange house and sir Oliver started investigating the living room. The plan had been, to go for a walk with sir Oliver and the man, and then half way the walk leaving the man and sir Oliver to go home. Since sir Oliver was quite calm and sniffing around the living room we decided to sneak away without a walk first.

During the day I had moments where I did think about him wondering how he was doing, though it was never with any anxiety or worry. I had seen how this man was behaving around our dog and that gave me trust and peace to let go and enjoy my parents 50th anniversary.

Around 10:30 PM my daughter and I went to the dog-sitters to collect sir Oliver. My daughter called the couple to let them know we were on our way. The woman was home and the man was walking sir Oliver. So we parked the car and went to their home. My daughter heard sir Oliver’s name tag tinkle. And when we looked back we saw the man with sir Oliver.

We all went in their house at once and sir Oliver was super excited to see us again. We came back! We didn’t abandon him! Or at least that was how I explained his excitement. The couple told us that sir Oliver had a bit of a hard time after we had left that morning. He had been wheezing and crying and then when the couple was nice and sweet he made the best out of it.

The man told us that sir Oliver had been sniffing at a certain car that evening, so he was curious if that was our car. And indeed it was, so sir Oliver is able to tell which car is the one he travels in. And then he spotted us, only by scent, and tracked us down at the front door of the dog-sitters house.

These sweet people didn’t want to be paid for their services, so I made them my homemade chocolates. Lucky enough they could appreciate the dark chocolate with almond paste filling. They even offered to dog-sit sir Oliver again whenever we needed it.

The moment we started to collect all sir Oliver’s belongings to get ready to go home again, sir Oliver got a bit nervous. To let him know that he was allowed to come home with us we did put on his harness and leash, as a sign for him to know he was going home with us.

After being a little homesick he had been having a nice day and we found out that sir Oliver is a bit of a womanizer, since he only liked the woman to pet him and get him ready to go outside. The man however was good for the walks but not to touch him or do anything special with him. That is exactly what we experience in our own household with my partner. So a bit of a relief for my partner that sir Oliver behavior of being afraid and cautious with him, is not personal. Sir Oliver might have had bad experiences as a test animal with men in general.  Simple a point to work through for sir Oliver and we as his caregivers.

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49. The Smartphone

Sir Oliver's Granny

A few weeks ago I committed myself to take my smartphone with me when going for walks with sir Oliver. I then didn’t realize that it wasn’t a commitment, it was more a point of common sense that I wanted to make into a habit when going out with sir Oliver. In other words the intend was more of a desire than really taking the smartphone and bring it with me.

There have been moments where my home front wanted to contact me and wasn’t able to do so. There have been times that I wanted to take a picture and I couldn’t.  I could see the need for bringing the smartphone and that was about it.

I tried again and made the commitment again. Now there were times that I did take the smartphone with me, there were times I forgot it and there were times I remembered taking the smartphone with me, yet I decided not to. When looking at this behavior there was clearly something off.

Whenever I brought the smartphone with me, all was fine, and not much thoughts were involved. The moments I forgot, it was not always really forgetting, it was simply not trying to remember. And the times where I deliberately didn’t take the smartphone with me, it was like I was rebelling against the fact that I had committed to take the smartphone with me.

Then I directed myself to have a closer look at the point of rebelling. What or who was I rebelling against? I looked inside of myself in relation to this situation and looked for the emotions that were at play. I could feel the desire for freedom inside of me. Now I had to figure out why the smartphone or bringing the smartphone was withholding me my desired freedom.

I found a belief inside of myself that the smartphone does connect me with my outside world and my responsibilities. On my walks alone with sir Oliver I enjoy being alone with him, enjoying the weather and enjoying a moment of not being disturbed and only focussing on the walk and the adventures that come with it.

It was clear to me that letting go of this belief would assist me to let go of my rebelling behavior as well. The smartphone cannot claim me or dictate me to do anything else than enjoying my walk. It is me who determines how I experience myself on walks with sir Oliver. And if I decide that I am away for 30-45 minutes and only take responsibility for that moment, I can as well take full responsibility for that which awaits me when I get home. No one tells me that those walks cannot be a moment of relaxation, reflection and being here with sir Oliver. It is me that decides if I can fully enjoy me in every moment, it is only me that can gift myself this time with me and my surroundings.

After realizing this I have not yet once missed of forgot to take my smartphone with me when going alone on walks with sir Oliver. Which shows me that when we make commitments with ourselves, and we do not fully understand what is exactly at play, it will be far more difficult to stick to the commitment.

So for everyone that is into New Years resolutions or commitments, think again when it’s merely a desire, since you will set yourself up for disaster and most likely not only disappoint yourself.

 

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48. A white ball with feathers

Sir Oliver's Granny

We did our evening walk with sir Oliver as usual. In winter now, we during the evening in the dark. Whenever sir Oliver is sniffing the ground, in the dark, I tend to watch him closely to see if he is not eating anything along the sniffing process. Which means that I am walking quite a bit with my head bend down.

At a certain point, on 1 third of the walk, I slowly looked up. Sir Oliver was peeing and I had a moment to look around. While lifting my head up, I saw a white ball on an old rickety fence. I blinked my eyes, not sure what it was I saw. Looking again, I saw a white ball, but now with feathers. Feathers! I did bend a bit forward to have a closer look. It’s a chicken!

At the same time I was in denial of it being a chicken. My mind said: nope, not possible. The physical reality gave me feedback, saying: yep, it’s a chicken. So I looked again, maybe it is a fake chicken like an ornament, went through my mind. Then the chicken’s head moved, I was a little startled and stepped back.

I told my daughter, look a chicken, there’s a chicken sitting on that rickety fence. My daughter had  a look and went more or less through the same phases I just went through. Now that we were positive that it was a living chicken sitting on a rickety fence where there should normally not be a chicken, we said: and now?

I suggested she would ring the bell of that house, since I had sir Oliver on the leash. To ask the residents if the chicken was their’s, or whether they know who’s chicken it is. Normally my daughter would not just go and ring anyones bell, but now when there was a chance of an animal being in danger, she grabbed herself and rang the bell.

It took a bit before the man opened the door, waving with €20, thinking that my daughter was the courier that would bring him and his family the food they had ordered. My daughter explained the situation with the chicken and the man turned out to not be the owner of this white chicken. He said: just let the chicken be, don’t worry.

We did worry. There was a busy road on the other side of the house, dogs running around unleashed. We didn’t want the chicken to get hurt or even killed. On the other side of the road there is a gypsy camp and they do have chickens. So the bird might have flown across the road. I suggested to use our Nextdoor app, where citizens of this district in town communicate with each other. At least then we could ask if someone had an idea who’s chicken it was.

Then when almost home, my daughter wanted to go there again without sir Oliver,  to see if the chicken was still okay. Before it seemed as if the chicken was sleeping on the fence. When she arrived the residents told her that they had called the emergency number and asked for an animal ambulance. I had no idea we could have asked for an ambulance for a chicken, so cool it was possible. Taking the chicken home with us to a house with cats and a dog was no option.

Later that evening my daughter asked on the Nextdoor app if someone was missing a white chicken. One lady responded, thinking that the chicken probably belonged to the gypsy camp. The chicken is brought to an animal shelter where they already have more chickens.

What seemed to be just a normal walk with sir Oliver, became a rescue story of a white chicken. And sir Oliver he never looked at the chicken, he might not even have seen it. And if he had, he had not known what it was. A white ball with feathers.

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47. Garbage Hunting

Sir Oliver's Granny

Litter Art

It’s on our morning walk that sir Oliver and I walk past houses who’s front door verge on the sidewalk. And it’s the third day that there is more litter on the street than normal. We had some storms and garbage day, and those 2 are not really best friends. There is one front door, where there is this crushed empty can of cat food, lying on the sidewalk. Every day sir Oliver sniffs it and goes crazy about it.

Also today I had to divert sir Oliver to get my attention and walk along with me. The front door of this house was open and a lady was busy to get herself ready to go to work by car. She almost stumbled over sir Oliver, who was in dog heaven of the scent that was still coming from the crushed can.

As always I spoke to sir Oliver telling him that it was no use to smell an empty can and we’d better move on. That moment the lady looked at the sidewalk and noticed the can. She said to sir Oliver: yummy! I looked at her, and apparently I gave her a certain look that made her straighten herself saying: or maybe not. She picked up the can and said: we better throw it away, and disappeared in the house.

Unexpected things happened within me, at first I became mad at her for saying yummy. Who says yummy, when there isn’t any yummy? And then when she picked up the crushed can, I was mad again that she hadn’t picked up the can days ago. I figured she must have stepped over the crushed can several days now when going to work or somewhere else.

In that moment she was, in my eyes, a terrible lady. Although it felt good that she was the bad guy, so to speak, something was off. It was too easy in a way, to get internally mad at someone I do not know. I had been building the anger up over those 3 days, wondering who let this litter out on the street. So I had been mad at someone and now all of a sudden this someone got a face and a body and I could divert my anger towards her through looking in an evil way at her.

Indeed I had been building up this anger about litter on the streets over time, and yes when litter lands in my front garden or on the sidewalk, I pick it up and throw it away. I want others to do the same thing, but others do not know I have this desire or wish.

And still this explanation was too easy for how I responded. I had to ask myself, who am I in this situation? Why do I get mad at others? Why am I disappointed in others? And why does it touch me so bad that I get angry?

So what if I am not angry at others for abdicating their responsibility and not picking up litter when it is actually in front of them? What if the anger  I experience is actually meant for myself? What am I then communicating with myself?

Thus I tried to get in touch with this anger and imagined it was anger towards myself. Where am I disappointing myself and am I angry at myself when it comes to litter and taking responsibility? I realized that I could as well, already 3 days ago, picked up the crushed can and throw it in the first bin I would see. Why did I not do anything, and pointed fingers at others? It was easier to let it be their problem and not mine. In fact I found that I was already taken responsibility for my own street and saw that as enough.

Then I pictured myself with a litter picker and a garbage bag and right away getting confused how I would manage that with walking sir Oliver as well. Not sure how I would be able ti rake responsibility here. So maybe, I should loosen up a bit. I can pick up things that sir Oliver goes crazy about and throw it in the next bin. I cannot de-litter my whole city by myself. What I can do, is being nicer to citizens and not give them a look that makes them shiver. I could have thanked the lady for picking up the crushed can, instead of thinking she’s 3 days late. I simply better focus on myself, see where I can improve myself and where I can be nicer and stimulate others to do the same.

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46. Traveling

Sir Oliver's Granny

We had to travel to visit family and we decided that it was a great moment to introduce a different home to sir Oliver. So far he only has been in our home and only a few people came over to see him, therefore it was time to expand his world, and see how easy he is with traveling.

The day we took him home things were quite confusing for him. All of a sudden he was with strangers and in a car. Then we travelled a bit by car with sir Oliver all within a 10 to 15 minute travel time. We really didn’t know how he is on longer car trips.

Last week at the vet’s we bought some car sickness pills. So an hour before traveling we gave him the pill with a bit of food. I took him for his afternoon walk while the rest of my family packed the car. It’s almost like traveling with a baby. We took his dog bed, blanket, toys, food bowls and food, his leash and harness. My daughter was already joking that she needed a diaper bag for all sir Oliver’s stuff.

After exactly an hour that sir Oliver had taken the pill we left for an hour and 15 minute drive. On the way there he wasn’t able to sit in a comfortable way and he was panting and trembling a lot. Even though he did decide to lay down after a while. I knew he wasn’t car sick, but he isn’t used to long car drives either. He’s never trained as a pup to be in a car and to learn to enjoy it.

When we arrived we let him out on a lawn next to the parking lot, to make sure he would not pee in the house out of anxiety or being overly excited. Just to be sure he would not do any thing on the wooden floor of my family. The first time I brought my first kitten home, he climbed the lace curtains and basically destroyed them. So that memory had come up, now I was bringing home my daughter’s dog. Even though I knew nothing bad could really happen.

Sir Oliver was really relaxed in this new environment, he already knew the smell of the family that lives there, maybe that helped. After exploring the entire penthouse he slept on his dog bed and ate his dinner like normal. We took him for his evening walk in this unknown city, sir Oliver was really excited to be able to sniff new scents, following new trails and he was pulling the leash as never before.

I did not do the stop and stare to the sky method, he is doing very well on it at home, now he was just so overwhelmed with new things and excited that I didn’t want to stop after each few steps we did.

An hour before we thought we would leave we gave sir Oliver his car sickness pill, to make sure his car drive back home would be as nice or nicer than on the way there. With again a bit of food he had no problems taking the pill. And it almost seemed that he got a picture of what was going to happen. He jumped into the elevator and didn’t seem surprised about the feeling of going down. He almost jumped into the car as if he new what the drill was, but the car is a bit too high for a Beagle.

On the way back he didn’t pant and almost no trembling, he slept in between my daughter and I in the back seat. I really would love it if traveling by car would not be a problem and be able to take him to places.

After coming home we went straight onto his night walk. When finally home, he went to bed in his own dog bed with my daughter and he slept through the entire night and was even a bit sleepy the next morning. Although he had been having fun, it was as well a lot of new experiences he had gone through. I really enjoyed bringing him along and gradually expose him to more and more things. Sir Oliver is quite a social dog, so he deserves it to expand his world step by step. And we expand with him on his and our journey to life.

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45. Vaccination time

Sir Oliver's Granny

Today we went to see the vet with sir Oliver to get his annual vaccine. A combination shot that contains: Parvo inactivated, Parvo live, liver disease and leptospirosis, that should prevent him from getting really sick. I Googled vaccines for dogs, to reassure myself that most dogs will not get really bad reactions from the vaccine. As with human vaccines there are large groups for and large groups against it. The information available is most often not enough to really make a well balanced choice, a choice not based in fear nor ignorance, which leaves me still a bit indecisive. And to fill that void of knowing, we did get sir Oliver his shot today.

Sir Oliver has been having his vaccinations throughout his entire life, in the laboratory and outside. He never has become dangerously sick of it, so that made me decide to vaccinate. Last week we postponed it, since sir Oliver had diarrhea. His stool has been solid for over 5 days now and another examination of the vet told us that his health is fine.

We had some questions about other things for the vet as well, so she asked us if we wanted to do the shot first or the questions. We choose the questions first, since we had no idea how sir Oliver would react to getting a shot.

Since we are going to travel by car for over an hour this weekend, we wanted to buy some anti-nausea tablets and ask if that is a good idea. We do not know if sir Oliver has car sickness, but when finding that out during our travel, it will be too late to medicate him. The vet agreed that it is best to prevent the nausea and give him a tablet an hour for departure. It also gives me some peace of mind, knowing that he at least will not become nauseous. Whether he will enjoy the ride, that is still questionable.

Another question we had was about sir Oliver, is rubbing himself against fences and walls when walking outside. He isn’t doing it always, but on some walks it seems he has to rub every fence, and we mostly walk by gardens with fences. Lucky enough for us he did it as well inside the vet’s practice, so she could observe how he rubs his shoulder first and then his first part of his back. Doing this very slowly and pressing himself very firm against the fence, wall or sometimes hedges.

My idea was that it is a way to release stress. Outside there are many city noises and new things that can be overwhelming from time to time. Sir Oliver seems to be immune for those noises, although his hearing is perfectly fine. So who knows, maybe it is his own reward after blocking out the noises to get himself a positive reward. The vet says that sir Oliver enjoys the rubbing, due to his facial expression. So stress might be one of the dimensions together with rubbing his scent on the fences, or taking other scents with him, or not being comfortable with the harness to simply enjoying the rub.

When she saw sir Oliver rubbing himself, she said he is one of a kind, a funny dog how he rubs himself. Well we do call him the clown, and there are reasons for that… At least it is not something to really worry about, unless he becomes obsessive with it.

So after our question time, I lifted sir Oliver onto the table, to get his shot. He had been more nervous than the 2 other times we went to the vet’s practice. I was almost certain that he felt our energy of: today is the day, and our not yet clear stance with vaccinations. It was not that I was noticeable nervous, though in the background I could feel there was a bit of energy going on. I tried to stabilize myself for the sake of sir Oliver.

He reacted to the shot just as we and the vet had expected, he simply stood there and let the vet do whatever needed to be done. She took a small needle which would cause less pain, just in case he would not visibly react to it.

In a year we have to go back for sir Oliver’s next shot. Lets see who I am within the whole vaccination point next year. A whole year to prepare and investigate, to figure out what is best for sir Oliver and his surroundings.