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.