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33. Dreaming

Sir Oliver's Granny

Day dreaming is for some of us a way to escape reality for a moment. For others dreaming is their worst nightmare when they close their eyes at night. Sir Oliver has no problems with sleeping, let alone dreaming. For dogs dreaming is a quick way to process their day to day experiences as well as traumatic experiences, which takes them longer of course to process. In the beginning sir Oliver dreamt a lot with a lot of movement throughout his entire body. Now he is fairly quiet when sleeping, except for his snoring of course.

For me sleeping, is touching my pillow with my head and I am gone to dreamland, and waking up 6-6,5 hours later to get up again. I hardly remember if or when I have been dreaming, and after last night I did remember my dream. It was such a nice example of how things come together and how we can learn from our own dreams, that I would like to share it.

There were 2 events that happened before the dream was fabricated. The first event was a question, one of the 2 men of the foundation, asked me. The question was whether I had ever let sir Oliver’s leash slip out of my hands? My answer was no, we’ve got quite a solid leash that goes around my wrist, and I absolutely try to avoid this from happening. I did notice that the question had touched upon a fear inside of me about loosing sir Oliver while he is following trails and I am not able to get him back to me. The foundation has been warning new caregivers that we better keep the Beagles on a leash, so that’s what we do. I had been suppressing this fear, saying to myself that it was not cool to scare myself off with having these thoughts, while it is not something that is already here yet to worry about.

Then the second event was the visit of my parents and them seeing sir Oliver for the first time. At a certain moment my mother wanted to go to her car to get her coat, she opened the front door with sir Oliver standing in the hallway, without any leash or someone holding him back. I was shocked of the sudden action of my mother and her not being aware of what was appropriate in that situation. As soon as I understood what was happening, I grabbed sir Oliver by the collar so nothing happened, though it scared me.

Subsequently I had the following dream last night:

I am rushing out of a house, walking into a front garden and seeing a platinum blonde middle aged woman holding my dog onto his collar, while he is pulling to escape her and the garden. She ends up holding the collar in her hand, while my dog goes off outside the garden.

The woman is now outside of the garden with my dog’s collar in her hand. I am standing inside the garden and a wooden bar fence, up until breast height, is in between the woman and I. The fence feels familiar and the whole scenery gives me the impression that it is my front yard and my home. Not that I recognized any of it.

When I am in front of the fence I tell the woman, who is still standing on the other side of my fence on a dirt road, to go after my dog and fix the situation. Somehow I feel restricted by the fence and order the woman to go after my dog. The woman starts running, which makes me all of a sudden decide, to follow her and my dog. After 200m/656ft the road turns into a bridge over a wide and wild river. Brown water with chambers and splashing white foam is underneath us. My dog runs over the bridge and then jumps into the river. I yell at the woman that she has to go after him. I somehow had the impression that she will have a better chance in succeeding. I hear bystanders say that the dog has no chance to survive in such cold water.The overall feeling  I have is one of loss and not being able to fix the problem myself, feeling restricted, and following the woman to make sure things are okay. And then I woke up from the alarm of my phone.

What I can see and take with me from this dream is my fear to lose sir Oliver. I can see that the blonde woman I am as well, only the version of me I would like to be, with a wooden fence in between me and who I want to be as a temporarily restriction. Where in my dream I am looking through the eyes of the person that I consider to be me, I order the woman around, check her and want her to do miracles for me, in order to force my control onto the situation.  Here I can see my bossy character that is sometimes in my way, this character is in the process of change. As where the woman indeed let sir Oliver escape, and I did blame her for that, while at the same time she took responsibility for it without hesitating one moment, not panicking and blaming others, doing what was needed without being a rebel like I mostly are, and not doing it her own way. Somehow I had faith in this woman, as she was quiet and doing what needed to be done, even though she had fucked up, when she lost sir Oliver.

Looking back on my dream, there is one wooden fence in between me and who I want to be, so it’s time to not paint the fence again, but disassemble the fence, a bar at a time. My fear of losing sir Oliver brought me in a way a gift, through dreaming about it and sending myself the message to have trust within myself. I had faith/trust in this blonde woman, the woman I want to be, so I do trust myself as long as I do not let the fence be up and let fear make me bossy, dominant and in control. So I will gift myself the word ‘self-trust’, as I have seen who I can be in a stressful situation when I trust myself.

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32. Great Grandparents Visiting

Sir Oliver's Granny

Sir Oliver is now living with us for 8 weeks and the only strangers he has seen in the home, were the men of the foundation with 6 weeks. It was advised to not have a lot of new people in the home, before the dog had settled in a bit. My parents decided to come over at our place, after their holiday, and with 8 weeks we considered sir Oliver as settled in.

When we saw my parents arrive, we closed off the hallway so sir Oliver wasn’t able to peep out off the front door. I instructed my parents to enter the living room as usual without focussing on the dog. Have a seat and let sir Oliver come up to them, smell them and get acquainted to them. My mother has the tendency to go up to animals and speak to them with a high pitch voice and I wanted to see if I could change her behavior with these new rules. of not paying attention at first.

Everybody was calm and so was sir Oliver, after he had checked my parents out, he went back to his dog bed and snore some more. Even when the conversations got a bit louder and more people speaking with each other at the same time, sir Oliver couldn’t care less.

After lunch we normally walk sir Oliver and this time we were with 4, so a real pack of dog-mans. When walking with the men of the foundation I had seen that sir Oliver liked as well walking with more people at once, who talk with each other and enjoy being together. My mother wanted to get her coat out of her car for the walk, and opened the front door without realizing that sir Oliver was in the hallway as well. I felt a shock going through my body. The 4 of us are all instructed to not open the front door before checking where sir Oliver is, and being sure he cannot follow the person going outside. Our front yard is not closed off, which means that he can go onto the street and walk away easily. That is a scenario that I do not like to happen, not knowing if we are capable to get him back into the house once he is hunting trails. The walk itself went quite well and sir Oliver behaved perfectly, no problems with people walking behind him, which was a problem before.

For dinner we placed the dining table in the middle of the room so 6 people could have a seat at the table. Moving around furniture didn’t bother sir Oliver at all. Having meat at the table is never a problem, he does not beg for food. The entire meal he stayed on his bed.

Also after dinner we went for a walk with 4 people, even my son went along, who had not yet been with us on our walks in the past 8 weeks. Again a smooth walk, where sir Oliver didn’t stop and refuse to walk, like we had in the past.

Later that evening my mother was even able to pet sir Oliver without using the high pitch voice. It couldn’t go better. I would say bring them on those visitors, sir Oliver is ready for it.

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31. Who’s Playing Games With Who?

Sir Oliver's Granny

The walks we do with sir Oliver are coming more and more to a point where we, my daughter and I, are able to firstly direct ourselves and within this process and as an outflow of this process, we are able to direct sir Oliver as well. We actually needed more change than he did, since a dog is more aware of living in the moment, and we humans tend to relive the ‘bad’ experiences. Following our thoughts about the ‘bad’ experiences and right away project it onto a new and fresh experience to turn it sour and as well become our own bully.

So any doubt we had about being the top dog or the leader of the pack, was due to allowed memories that we let ourselves to be move by, while expecting the worse. When writing this down it almost sounds ridiculous, realizing that this is the typical human behavior that takes away our self-esteem and leadership qualities.

As I said, the walks are getting smoother day after day. With sometimes a fall back, which always leads back to our abdications of leadership, that’s reflecting back on sir Oliver which is confusing him.

Then another ‘problem’ emerged, we started having difficulties with getting sir Oliver from his dog bed to the front door to get him ready for his walks. He seems to like his walks, so that could not be the cause. Sometimes both my daughter and I would call him to come, or one of us. Trying to trick him with dog treats, and yes, that sometimes worked. He is able to respond to the word come, he is hearing the word walking and combined with the sound of my house keys which I put in my pocket of my coat, sir Oliver absolutely knows what we are about to do. There should not be a reason for why sir Oliver looks at us and keeps sitting or lying on his bed, other than alpha behavior or being confused or both.

One time he would get up, walk towards the hallway, and than walk back again to his bed. Or when seeing the harness, turning around and go and sit on his bed again. Though while walking sir Oliver he doesn’t give the impression that the harness is hurting him or being uncomfortable. So again for now something to stripe through as a cause to why he would not listen and come.

Then when coming and leaving for several times it almost looked like a game to us. We were already considering that he was playing with us, tease us so to speak. The next question I asked myself was, what would make him tease me? Is he reflecting something back to me? Sir Oliver was almost dedicated within it, so what was he communicating through his dog behavior. And who is playing games with who?

I had to take a self-honest look here to see that when I asked him to come, I already thought about him not coming. Already thinking this will take ages, not again please. There it was, I was the one playing mind games, and reflected that back on sir Oliver as him playing games with me. I was completely blank as to how I could resolve this impasse. What is the solution to this?

I went from what is the solution to this to, I might actually be the solution as I had noticed before with other issues. So I tried to take back authority, be strict and wanting him to come with no other outcome. Do I need to say that this was an inflexible way of thinking of me? Sir Oliver was still being confused and I was still having a hard time letting go of the fear he would not listen and obey, and it taking ages to get to the actual walk.

Therefore I had to let go of this overly directive way, not considering that I had to guide him to this point of coming towards me, while being his pack leader. I changed my approach and instead I first came over to sir Oliver on the bed, catching his attention with the house keys or my words about walking, giving him a moment to get up and then let him walk next to me into the hallway. Wow this worked, I was directive and asking him for my respect to obey me, while at the same time giving him respect to give him a moment to get his act together and understand what was asked from him.

Now he is following me with a wobbling tail. Sometimes I get over to sir Oliver’s bed, other times he already gets up and walks straight into the hallway with me.

Earlier we only put on his harness when we were dressed up, putting on shoes, coats and shawls, which took quite some time for sir Oliver to stay focussed and thus he would leave the hallway again, not knowing what to do. Now we put on his harness and ask him to wait. He’ll wait and when we are dressed up we hook him onto the leash and walk in front of him out of the front door.

People speak about training a dog, I would say it is mostly training yourself which eventually results in a trained dog.

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30. When The Rebel Comes Through

Sir Oliver's Granny

Yesterday we had, the 2 men of the Laboratory Beagle Foundation, over for a house visit and we absolutely had a pleasant gathering. There was only one point that offended me, in a way that I immediately started questioning the information that was given to me. I could partly see what happened inside of me and saw no way to address it in the moment. The result was that almost right away after the men had  left, I noticed I had a stiff neck.

To me, a stiff neck that hurts when I try to move, means inflexibility. So what had they said that offended me and how did this eventually made me inflexible?

One of the men asked us how many times we walk sir Oliver, and we answered proudly 3 times a day. The men expressed that 4 times is the minimum a Beagle needs. So what we were doing was not in line with what sir Oliver needs. Despite the fact that he doesn’t pee or poop in the house due to not being able to hold it in, with a 3 times per day walk. My mind took it right away as: you are wrong, you are doing it wrong, aaaannnd you must do it this way.

Now that is a construct or pattern I am familiar with, it’s my so called rebelling character, when I suspect people want to make me do things whom I consider more than me. I then see them as an authority, while they mostly are not. It’s my labeling that makes them in my eyes an authority figure that must be obeyed. My standard response to this is doing the opposite, rebel against it. Mostly not so much in deeds, more so in thoughts or spoken words. So then the nasty stuff comes out. “Who do they think they are, to tell me what to do!” And then mostly the plan is already brewed within my mind. “I will not walk 4 times a day, 3 times is the limit!!”

By then I feel really sick of being controlled and rational common sense thoughts like: this will assist sir Oliver, it might make him happy to go on a late short walk and do his last pee, will not appear. At that moment it is all about me. I am not going to do what they are saying, because I believe that they are compelling me to do it. This state, I bring myself in, from a point of inferiority where I react within myself with superiority, is quite hard to move out. At least I can see it at a certain point now, and no longer take it as normal behavior or coping mechanism which it is not.

So the thought:”I will not walk sir Oliver a fourth time”, was stuck inside of my body and manifested itself as a stiff and inflexible neck. In between owning my own creation and getting to a point of understanding there was self-pity as well. The “I take the whole world on my shoulder’ syndrome, and making the whole issue into a heavy issue. Which made my shoulders sore as well.

As soon as I was able to own my creation I asked myself if walking him 10-15 minutes extra on a daily base would make a huge difference for me, and asking myself if these extra 15 minutes would make a difference for sir Oliver? The answers were no and yes, in that same order. That was the only question to ask, all the emotional fuss around it were diversion mechanisms. I did not want to do the fourth walk, only because I felt forced,  while I wasn’t. Someone did a call on my common sense and I responded polite on the outside and anarchistic on the inside.

The only question I have to ask is whether it is good for sir Oliver and for me at the same time. When it compromises my schedule, another family member, can take the responsibility and take over. It’s a joined adventure, so why not honor that and spread the responsibilities. I’ve been so much looking at how to be good and do good that I had reached a point of not wanting to bite off more than I can chew and felt my limits were reached, while it was the way I looked at this task, through the eyes of my rebel character that made it the straw that broke the camel’s back. While in fact the camel is still in good shape.

Owning my problem was the first step that already lessened my pain in my neck and shoulder area. Quitting the habit will really deal with the problem. And do the walk and not making it into a problem, but simply walk the problem.

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29. They came

Sir Oliver's Granny

Today it was the day that we were honored with a house visit from the foundation, whom my daughter got sir Oliver from. We knew that around week 6-7, they would come over, and see how the dog is doing and how the adopting caregiver is doing with the dog.

Somehow, in anticipation of the visit,  it felt like we were going to be checked. And that brought all kinds of thoughts to the surface, that were going around in my mind all at once. Things like: what if they think we are not doing okay with sir Oliver? What if the direction we haven taken with sir Oliver is not appreciated? And al of this with an undercurrent of not being good enough to guide a laboratory dog.

I had no thoughts about sir Oliver being taken away from us, because deep down I knew we were doing a good job with him. He has become more stable and balanced, as we have, as his caregivers. Though still this doubt was there of being criticized and not living up to the expectations of the foundation. Which was more like a mind contortion of reality, because I had put rules and expectations in place and not them. So in a way I was afraid of not passing my own test of which I was pretending it was not me administrating this test.

All of that had happened in my head before the moment they arrived. Afterwards while reflecting back on the visit with my daughter she had been feeling the same way, being nervous and afraid to fail the test.

When I opened the front door, there were 2 men in their sixties standing in front of me, while we were expecting one man. They were cheerful and kind. It was the first time in 6 weeks we had other people in the house than our family of 4. Sir Oliver took it very well, we had no idea what to expect, we know he is curious about people and dogs. We knew already that they wanted to walk our afternoon walk with us, so we left the house as soon as they had entered.

We had agreed that my daughter would walk sir Oliver, since she is the official caregiver on paper. My daughter has not yet recovered from her flu/cold, so she asked me to walk sir Oliver, which I did. I was a bit nervous hoping sir Oliver would not react to my slight nervousness. Nothing to worry about, he was such a good boy, he walked as relaxed as possible. We now and then stopped to discuss a point and sir Oliver would not pull the leash. He was a real star in his own show.

One of the men asked if he could take the leash and walk sir Oliver a bit. I was surprised and understood his motivations at the same time, simply making sure they had placed a traumatized Beagle in the right family. While walking with the man, sir Oliver was his exemplary self. We had such a great time, the men stayed for over 2,5 hours, discussing everything of our interest.

Then they had to officially ask my daughter if she wants to keep sir Oliver in our home, so she could become his official caregiver. There was no doubt, but a wholehearted yes, from her. I couldn’t agree more. It’s been 6 weeks and sir Oliver is in our hearts, actually he already was when we brought him home.

It is really cool to have such a foundation and it’s volunteers to our disposal. Sometimes little things can make big problems and having some cross-reference from people who had/have lab dogs themselves is very valuable.

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28. So Lucky It Is The Flu

Sir Oliver's Granny

Since a few days I am walking all walks alone with sir Oliver, except for last weekend when my partner walked with. My daughter has come down with the flu and a cold, yeah she’s got the flu/cold, and was thus not able to join the walks. Maybe it sounds weird when a mom is glad her child is sick.

It’s been many many years since my daughter has been sick like a normal person. The chronic Lyme disease made her sick daily. At least the last 6 years when her chronic Lyme disease was the worse, flu like symptoms were a sign of a new episode of Lyme. When she would tell me that she had a sore throat, headaches, runny nose and muscle aches, it was alarm phase one and a knot in my stomach. Knowing that a lot of bad stuff was coming her and our way.

This is the first time that I could see her eyes being watery, but I wanted to check every time if things felt different than what we have been calling ‘normal’ before. She told me that a real flu is more superficial when it comes to pain. According to her experience Lyme flu pain is deep, and was felt throughout her entire body. Getting these first signs of a Lyme episode meant mostly weeks in a row in bed, curtains closed and merely surviving.

I am so so glad that we, for now, have left it behind us. There is nothing as horrible to see your child suffer so much and doctors telling you that she is making it up. Insurances telling you that chronic Lyme disease does not exist and therefore you are paying a lot of insurance money, but don’t get anything compensated. While with acknowledged diseases one does get compensated.

Sir Oliver has been a gift, that she gave herself,  after being able to recover from chronic Lyme disease through natural medication and working on herself. She hasn’t been outside so much since she has sir Oliver. Daily movement and being outdoors does good to us humans. And not underestimating the discipline of walking 3 times a day with a dog, well that is my part of the deal. My daughter tries to do 2 walks, if not sick with the flu.

I’ve given myself the gift of discipline, when it comes to being outdoors. I had been having many resistances and mainly excuses, of which non are left today. A dog, if I had ever known, is so great to at least have ones in your life. I’m a cat woman, I always said, and now when I see other dogs I get this warm feeling inside. Before it was just a dog and I was glad it was not mine or living in my house. It’s a bit like living with a naughty toddler, if you like challenges. Apparently I like challenges, because it is not my first challenge. I still love being a cat woman and I as well love to be a dog woman. So why limiting myself, no one told me to choose!

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27. Sir Oliver Showing My Responsibility

Sir Oliver's Granny

Especially in the previous weeks where walks were not always easy with sir Oliver, I tended to blame anything outside of myself, for things not going smooth. Now, when following the natural dogmanship for most part, I now know sir Oliver is my direct feedback of my own internal reality. So pointing fingers on anything else outside of myself is merely wasting my own time.

For me the walks where my partner joined me, were the toughest, I really had a hard time walking in a ‘normal’ way with sir Oliver. There is a history to this. In the first weeks, sir Oliver somehow got a bit scared of my partner, he is 1,92 m/6 feet 3 tall, and has the same scary effect of being big on our cats. Until today sir Oliver is quite careful around my partner. As far as my partner and us could see or understand, nothing substantial had happened back then, and we all thought it was a one time scary event as there have been more of such situations for sir Oliver.

My partner loves to walk and have some exercise, so in those first weeks he asked or suggested to join my daughter and I on an evening walk. We figured it might be okay if he would join and bond some more with sir Oliver. On these walks sir Oliver would treat him like a stranger walking by or following us, and started focussing on my partner, while not listening anymore to what was expected of him.

Then for a while, I asked my partner to not join us, since it made my evening walks more difficult. Walking in the dark is not sir Oliver’s favorite activity and when he sees a tall male following him and the pack he’s leading, things do get scary. Back then he was still in full charge of us, as his pack. It didn’t feel good to deny my partner to join, but at that moment I could not yet see that I was abdicating my responsibility.

This weekend my partner asked again, if he now could join sir Oliver and I on our morning walk in the park again. My feeling said no, but I said yes, because how could things change if I only remove that what I saw as the big problem? How could I not change or do anything about that what I saw as the problem? My partner joined and for a while he walked behind sir Oliver and I, and I was hardly able to take my leadership and lead him as normal. I then asked my partner to not walk behind us. Thus he chose to walk in front of us, which slowed sir Oliver down as well, due to focussing on a ‘strange’ human walking in front of us. Still not fully in charge, I was not able to be sir Oliver’s leader and guide him through his walk. It gave me an overall feeling of disappointment.

On another walk this weekend my partner wanted to join as well. I had been thinking about this whole situation. How could I make the best out of having a jammer as a millstone around my leg? Not yet seeing that in fact I was the jammer. So I looked at the walks I did with my daughter and I realized that whenever it is possible on our walks, the one that doesn’t have sir Oliver on the leash, is walking next to the leader or sir Oliver. Therefore I asked my partner to do the same and be aware as directions changed or whenever I swopped from the right to the left side of sir Oliver for practical reasons.

Things went far more smoother now my partner was really joining us, and he and I were much easier able to talk with each other. Only then I realized that sir Oliver had been mirroring my fear all the time. I feared the walk would not be fun and having to correct sir Oliver far more then really necessary when my partner joined. On top of that my partner seem to still fear that sir Oliver is scared by him and acted far more reserved and less involved. Once I walked equally aside sir Oliver with my partner, we became equal again. Where it was no longer about me considering my partner as a jammer, where I came out of my own equation as superior to him. I was able to take my responsibility within it. As I said before I was the jammer, I was the one that led sir Oliver, and I was the one transferring my fears onto sir Oliver, while leading him from a starting point of fear.

This evening my partner asked me if I needed some company during my walk with sir Oliver, and for the first time I could self-honestly say: no. I could say, no, without seeing him as a jammer and not wanting him there, or saying, no, while I felt ashamed for excluding him. I simply wanted some me time with sir Oliver on a cold autumn evening.