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44. Balancing Our Relationship

Sir Oliver's Granny

The stop and stare to the sky method we started applying 2 days ago, due to sir Oliver pulling on the leash, is becoming more natural for me now. Where I first had to consciously think to stop, now a pull on my arm is enough to stop.  I cannot stop just anywhere, when crossing a street or a car is approaching us or another dog is passing by, I will let go off the method. Safety first.Yet there is something going on with pulling and me.

The first walks with this method, sir Oliver had really no clue of what I was doing. He would pull even harder and not let go. Then later on he would use the length of the leash to walk in circles around me while keeping the leash tight. Only recently he quickly goes into slacking the leash and we continue walking. He had to understand that walking was his reward and he found out that stopping became a bit boring.

Change will not always happen quickly. And the golden tip that explained this method, already said that it is not a quick fix, and when it works it is a long lasting change.

Sounds a bit like us humans, we want to change occasionally, but we rather go for a quick fix and then hope it will be long lasting.

So with this method of changing sir Oliver’s behavior I am changing my behavior as well. I need to be disciplined and not connect pulling to hurting or being mean. That is what I saw, when I pull sir Oliver away of something he may not eat or when rubbing a fence with his shoulder and back. I really feel like a mean person when pulling sir Oliver’s leash, and can’t stand the fact that I feel powerless and not yet able to come up with other solutions that are applicable as of now.

Thus pulling even when sir Oliver does it himself, is a negative experience to me. When I have to stop when sir Oliver pulls on the leash, and while he pulls, I have to pull as well to not fall over. And that sensation of pulling him, while it is more keeping us both in balance, makes it a bit uncomfortable for me. Or I am being hard on myself, since it is not about being mean. It is about being directive and balancing out the relationship between sir Oliver and I when we are outside.

I also read that dogs that have  harnesses on are more likely to pull on the leash. I do not exactly know what to think of that. It gave me some vivid thoughts though, and pictures in my mind. Using a collar and due to not wanting to pull him on the neck, I am standing in the street not knowing how to move myself or sir Oliver. Almost begging him to move and follow. Wait a minute, that is the opposite of natural dogmanship. I am the leader, the leader of the pact. So what does this mind flash or vivid fantasy tells me?

At the moment when I have to pull sir Oliver in whatever situation, I’m almost apologizing in my mind to sir Oliver for pulling him. He might be aware of me trying to be a leader from a point of inferiority and thus he might not acknowledge my leadership from such a starting point and thus pull and lead.

Cool points to look into, and an opportunity to bring change within myself as well. Changing another never goes without changing oneself. I have to respect the workings of the dog brain and not see pulling necessarily as being mean when done with respect and not from a point of fear and inferiority. So I will live the word ‘balance’, where we change both to establish a point of equilibrium. Where pulling is alternated with letting go/slack and merely a form of play or a way to behave together outside, to make walks fun for both of us.

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43. The Dog Poo Piston

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From the day on that we had sir Oliver in our lives, poop bags became one of my best friends. My philosophy is that everybody should clean up their own shit. And since we are the legal adopters of sir Oliver, we adopted his poo as well. It was all in the package, so to speak. Since day 1, I and my daughter have been taking care of sir Oliver’s shit. I’m very dedicated, seeing myself taking on the role of an living example within taking responsibility for one’s animal.

I mean cleaning up one’s own shit goes further than a pet, and the responsibility thereof. And that’s why I am sharing my story of today.

A few weeks ago I was sitting on my haunches in the grass, picking up sir Oliver’s poo with a poop bag. As I made a knot in the bag to close it off, an older man driving a scooter for disabled people approached me. I see the man almost everyday walking his dog with his scooter. We mostly chit chat for a few minutes and then move on. The man told to me to not bother with the poop bags. He said: they clean it after you. So I asked him, do they clean here with a dog poo piston? There was some hesitation and then he said yes.

This yes fucked with my mind. I live here now for 4 years, and I have never seen any dog poo piston as of yet. So my reaction was, when walking away from the man, he is just saying so. He wants to calm his own guilt. I mean how would he be able to get out of the scooter and pick up his dog’s poo? And thinking as well: why would this nice old man lie to me about a dog poo piston? I know in the city they have a piston, here in the outskirts I have never seen one.

Now this story about the municipality cleans up after our dogs, kept bothering me. I once had the idea of Googling it or call the municipality and ask them if it was true. Though I did not, I was actually fine with pondering about this question now and then.

I did not see immediately how I had labeled the old man as an silly old man, believing fairy tails about dog poo pistons. So then a few weeks later, the man told me how the dog leash had gone around his dog’s hind leg, and pulled so hard on the leg as he could not stop his scooter in time. The lower part of the dog’s leg was bruised. The dog was still not walking like he normally does.

I left the man after the conversation and moved on physically, but not mentally. Sentences went through my mind as: silly old man how can you let this happen? You do not deserve a dog, you should not have a dog, you’re simply a lazy man sitting in a scooter. Wow, I was really surprised by my ‘secret mind’ gossiping like my life was depending on it. Shit, am I such a horrible person, went through my mind. No, not really.

Over time I had accumulated the thoughts about the man, who told me I was doing a job that wasn’t necessary, according to him. And I had taken it personally. The man never said: you silly woman picking shit for nothing, are you trying to look like a good person? Although it felt like that when filtered through my mind. I simply had to face that I had allowed a certain form of gossip within me and not stopped it while I could and thus it accumulated.

Then 4 days ago the lawns were mowed. Probably the last time before winter, and all the leaves and all the dog poop was minced up and spread over the lawn. Now it was even dirtier to walk on the grass. So I thought maybe the old man was talking about mowing the lawns and mincing up all poo, and not so much about a dog poo piston. Imagine how silly the man became now within my mind.

Today while almost crossing a busy street, I heard a sound and I couldn’t recognize it immediately. So I looked around to see where it came from. And there it was, A DOG POO PISTON, man did I feel silly. For a moment my mind went: but he is not sucking anything, he is just driving around. As if that made any difference.

So next time when I meet the old man in his scooter and his dog, I will myself to disconnect the word ‘silly’ and all the accumulated thought that are attached to it and live the word ‘humbleness’.

 

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42. Where Did My Leadership Go?

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Over the weeks I started to be more easy on sir Oliver and myself when it came to leadership. I had decided that it was okay when he walked a bit in front of me. Still thinking of sir Oliver as piteous for walking on a leash. Feeding my mind with, it is okay to give him a bit more space to explore.

It was of course obvious what the consequences were going to be, though the consequences didn’t come in right away. Sir Oliver took a while before pulling on the leash and being in a total leadership position on our walks.

I tried to get myself back into the role of leader and one day it would work and the other totally not. At the moment the only thing that was bothering me, was sir Oliver pulling on the leash.

Somehow I could not figure out or come up with a way or solution to stop the pulling. Pulling him back didn’t seem a solution to me, yelling at him or trying to use a word so he would not pull seemed not right, and are either the way to treat sir Oliver. In all those cases there would be no reward in it for sir Oliver and as I understood, a Beagle or for that matter a dog,  is not going to do anything unless there is a reward.

When thinking of treats, I saw myself already walking behind him, while sir Oliver would pull on the leash and me holding up dog treats. Nope, that would not work. I had no idea what to do, other than being calm and being clear where I wanted him to go. Shortening the leash for a few seconds, did however work, but didn’t seem something that would stick in sir Oliver’s brain and was not connected by him to the pulling on the leash.

Just before my daughter and I were about to walk with sir Oliver his evening round, I got an email. I have a subscription on a Beagle forum and the guy that set this up sends me every week 1 email with a golden tip.While making myself ready for the walk I read quickly what the title was. I read: “How to train your Beagle not to pull the leash”, wow that was exactly what I needed.

I read the golden tip and found out that whenever sir Oliver would pull the leash I had to stop, stare at the stars, and only continue walking when sir Oliver would stop pulling on the leash. What an awesome solution and how simply! So my daughter and I decided to start right away on our walk.

First of all sir Oliver was walking fairly good on this walk, but there were occasions where he did pull. So we stopped, stared at the stars and walked again when he stepped a bit aside and the leash would slack. I think we did it 4-5 times and sir Oliver was a bit startled and didn’t seem to know what to do, or what was expected of him. Then when we started walking again he would follow right away.

The guy of the golden tip didn’t say it would work right away. It simply needs time to correct things again. Although at first it seemed a bit silly to stop in the middle of the sidewalk and stare at the stars. That is if I really would care of what others possibly would think about me. In a way it felt quite natural this correction method and I can see that in time this will certainly assist and get the pulling on the leash out of the way.

This new method made me confident, and it was so simply, so it could be easily applied. The key is discipline and not slacking my leadership again. And having pity is not going to get me anywhere with sir Oliver, that is the first thing I must get rid off.

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41. The First Law Of The Beagle’s Constitution

Sir Oliver's Granny

The first law of the Beagle’s constitution is: eat whatever seems edible.

The moment we got sir Oliver, we were prepared for an eating machine, and almost the opposite was true. He had to be encouraged to eat. Only over the weeks he is getting more and more back in his Beagle expression. Which obviously means that he is now following us either with his eyes or physically when we go into the kitchen. At certain sounds of certain packages/bags he points his ears.

Now with sir Oliver having diarrhea over the last 3 days, his appetite was lessened as well. Knowing that he really likes chicken we used that to get him some nutrients. This morning, the fourth day of him being sick, he was far more dynamic than the last couple of days. So we gave him his breakfast before his walk, since he was a bit shaky. He didn’t care about the food at all, which I found odd. Yesterday evening he had started to eat a bit more and drank water instead of only broth.

I took sir Oliver on a walk to see if he liked some fresh air and some movement. The moment we were outside he pulled extremely on the leash. Every bit of green between the paving stones he investigated and sniffed. Then when we walked by a public lawn, I wasn’t able to get him to move on. Sir Oliver started biting the long grasses and eating it as well. I did not feel confident and comfortable to let him continue eating the grasses, and I decided to pul him away. Since I had no idea if eating grass is okay for a dog, and he was so obsessive about it.

Thoughts went through my mind of maybe sir Oliver’s body is telling him what is good for him, and maybe he is self-medicating himself. I had no idea at that time, if my mind was justifying whether it was okay he had already eaten some grass. I also had read that dogs eat as well rotten food, so that didn’t give me the impression that dogs really know what is best for their body. Which I found weird, since I like to believe that nature has everything in order and animals are self-directive and act upon what is best for them and their species. In the meanwhile sir Oliver seemed to calm down a bit, after eating the grasses.

We went into the park, while I was holding my breath, and hoping he was not going to eat the grass there as well. The very grass where all other dogs pee and poop on, the grass that probably is full of bacteria. So I was a bit paranoia about him eating more grasses. To my surprise sir Oliver had no intentions anymore to eat grass in the park and we walked our walk  like we always do. He defecated as well and his poo was normal again. That I found really great, after 3 days of watery poop.

When we came home sir Oliver’s stomach/intestines started to make bubbly sounds and he indicated that he wanted to go into the back yard. I let him and he started to eat from the grass the cats eat as well from. This to me was less dangerous, yet I felt really uncomfortable with not yet taking my full responsibility. I could Google it and know if it is okay for a dog to eat grass and when they do it. It almost seemed for a few minutes that I rather stayed in fear and not knowing than moving myself, still believing that there was a reason to why sir Oliver did this.

I took sir Oliver inside and Googled my grass question and found out that dogs do this for several reasons. One of them is calming down nausea and bubbly intestines. So that was why sir Oliver had not yet eaten his breakfast, he had been nauseous! After eating some more grass the bubbling sounds stopped as well and some time later he ate his food.

So there was some truth in my self-medicating theory. Yet my fear that it would be bad for sir Oliver, without being able to back it up with proof/applied information from others, was quite big and in my face. I usually look things up right away and now it took me a bit longer fearing I had let him do something that possibly would make him even sicker. I was in fact for moments already living out, in my mind, a scenario that was not yet here, built on guilt and ignorance.

Next time I will trust my common sense and work with what is here. Bring my smart phone with me, which I mostly not do, so I can Google it on the fly. That way there is no need and no room for guilt and fear. I would simply know and act upon it.

 

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40. No Shot Today

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The plan was to get sir Oliver his annual shots today, reality was a tiny bit different. Sir Oliver started having diarrhea 2 days ago, and it worsened over the next days. This afternoon on his walk it was as if he was spray painting in the color ochreous. It’s not that he’s been acting like a very sick dog, but he’s lying down far more than normal and needs to go into the garden to do his business, which he normally doesn’t do.

The vet assistant told us yesterday that if he wasn’t yet well enough to get his shots, to bring him in anyways. So that is what we did. She nevertheless checked the basic things, so sir Oliver could get used to being touched by the vet. He was really calm on the treatment table of the vet. After taking his temperature to see if he had a fever, sir Oliver was trembling of the stress that it gave him. However he didn’t move when she took his temperature, and lucky enough he had no fever.

Also today, like yesterday, he didn’t want any dog treats at the vet’s. As far as I could assess it, it didn’t seem to be a very stressful or even horrible experience for sir Oliver. And that is exactly what we wanted.

We agreed on coming back next week, if all is fine with sir Oliver, and do the shots in a weeks time. We didn’t have to pay today’s visit, only the medicine we took with us yesterday. I have to say that I do trust this practice as far as I can observe the practices of this group practice. The way they handle things are absolutely not done in a pushy way.

I can see how much more calm I was today in comparison to yesterday. It had everything to do with my view about vet’s in general, and how ‘bad experiences’ had been turned into ‘bad memories’ that set the tone for how I perceive vets and doctors for that matter. It’s quite tricky when one starts to generalize after one or maybe more bad experiences and yet we all accept the judging as normal within our lives.

It’s best, I found, to take each experience as a new experience and not mess it up from the start. It’s not really cool to mess up my own reality and get nervous when having to see a vet.

We spoke as well with the vet about sir Oliver’s diarrhea and how to handle it and we were so aligned with this vet. Simply using common sense and take it a step at a time. I made sir Oliver homemade chicken broth with pieces of chicken in it, that way he would drink and get some basic nutrients.

On the way to the vet, my daughter said, they might want to give sir Oliver antibiotics. Her friend got antibiotics for her pup after the pup was a bit less dynamic, without really examining the pup. We both are no big fans of the exaggerated use of antibiotics, and only use it when it is the last option. I rather put some colloidal silver in his drinking bowl, in case it is a bacterial infection. Though the vet never brought up antibiotics, which shows again to me their caring stance for the animals they treat.

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39. Exploring The Vet’s Practice

hond-rilt-bij-griep

We knew that at some point we had to take sir Oliver to the vet to get his annual shots. It was also a point that we tried to delay. Not knowing how sir Oliver would react to an medical environment, being a former laboratory Beagle. And I might find it more tensive than sir Oliver, who knows.

So I had made a phone call to a group practice of vets, a 5 minute drive from our home or a 15 minutes walk. The vet’s assistant took the call and told us that they only see animals by appointment. Which I found really reassuring knowing that we didn’t have to wait in a full waiting room with all kinds of animals. My only memory was one of about 40 years ago, maybe now all vets are doing there business by appointment.

The assistant suggested for us to come in the afternoon when it is in general less busy. She also suggested to come by a day earlier to look at his medical passport, weigh him and let him walk around a treatment room so he could sniff up all scents and not be excited about it when the vet would examine him. That sounded great, it gave me a sense of being taken of and real care, which seems to be the starting point of this practice. I had heard cool reviews about these vets and according to the phone call I had the impression that the animals are more important than their business model.

Today we had the appointment with the vet’s assistant. The idea was to walk sir Oliver to the practice. However this morning we found out that his one time diarrhea was not a one time event. It had become worse and this morning he didn’t want to eat all of his breakfast and no dog treats either. He was pacing throughout the ground floor and at a certain moment he started to pant. He never had done that for no obvious reason. My daughter took him for a short walk and see if he had to defecate, but with no success.

We decided to go to the vet anyway, since that is the place to ask and find assistance if needed. My daughter and I went by car, to not let sir Oliver walk 15 minutes back and forth in the rain. Sitting on the backseat of the car has become less exciting for sir Oliver. I however felt a certain level of tension within me, hoping things would went well, so going to the vet would eventually become a positive experience for sir Oliver.

I could see that my suspicion for doctors in general played it’s own movie in the back of my mind. I wanted to make sure and be assured that we were doing the best thing by bringing sir Oliver to this vet practice. All I could do was breathe through it and be aware of the thoughts that flashed at a high speed through my mind.

We went inside with sir Oliver, which he seemed to find odd. We so far never go into other’s houses with him. So he hesitated, but walked with us inside, where the doors automatically closed after some time. Since he had his harness on and was walking on a leash, his primary response was to track down new scents. Standing or sitting was no option, when there was so much to smell. We were allowed to explore the room and talk with the assistant at the same time. We tried to let him be at stop on the animal scale, which was pretty much a tough thing to do. He will sit if we ask him inside the house, maybe in the back yard, but that is it for now. His weight was less than on our own scale, so the assistant suggested to come by every now and then to weigh him and they put it in his records and be able to see if things are not okay.

I was impressed with how they run the practice, where employees are allowed to bring their own dogs to work. How great is that? The people were kind and not pushy at all. I explained about sir Oliver’s diarrhea and we got some pills to get back to normal stool. No need to pay them now, we can pay them tomorrow if the vet says he is healthy enough to get his annual shots. They are not allowed to vaccinate animals that are not healthy. And that is exactly where my fear of vets comes from.

We once had 3 stray kittens from a pet shelter, just a few weeks old. We brought them to the one and only vet in the village. He gave them without examination a lot of shots and deworming medicine. One kitten didn’t make it and the vet admitted that it was of the heavy medicines. So my trust in the credibility and professionalism of vets was lower than ever after that experience.

I can see that these are bad memories and at the same time not likely something that will repeat itself. So being aware that I make the right choice in vets, is the one thing I should focus on. Understanding that my mind will take me to places that are no longer relevant, is important as well, because then I know I have a choice. Do I follow my negative thoughts about vets and generalize all vets and all their actions? Or do I not follow these thoughts and work with what is here? And the last thing I chose to do, excepting my nervousness, knowing where it comes from and at the same time not let it direct me and the choices I make.

Lets see the vet tomorrow and get things done. The main focus is sir Oliver and making things as comfortable for him as possible. And that can only happen when I do not stress myself. Sir Oliver seemed pretty okay with this vet practice, just like us.

 

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38. Lost-And-Found: a promise

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It was a cold evening and I was walking sir Oliver by myself. I was almost near the school and the cyclists crossing, the very point where there is no lamppost. Sir Oliver had been walking perfectly, maybe a little bit too fast, and I had to step up a bit to keep up with his pace. Then, for me out of the blue, he started wiggling and twisting his back in the middle of the sidewalk. I remember thinking, oh no, he lowered his back, lowered his hind legs and defecated.

I set myself at rest by thinking that I had my poop bags and I would clean up after sir Oliver. I was staring in the dark to see if he had done anything and where it was if he had done it. Somehow I had not heard anything falling. I looked another time and I saw 2 large placards of diarrhea with pieces of poop in it. I looked again as if I could not believe that what was on the ground was really coming out of sir Oliver. Reality checked in, yep, it was sir Oliver’s poop.

I was staring at it, asking sir Oliver to wait and stay knowing that he only knows these commands for a short period, so I had to make up my mind. The only thing I had was my poop bags, but in my imagination I needed at least a fire extinguisher to spray clean things. Or at least a bottle of water… which I didn’t had.

I took a breath and decided that I would use that what was here, the poop bags. So I put the bag around my hand and scooped as much as brown water and poop pieces up as possible. There was no way I would be able to clean up that sidewalk. So I tied the bag, walked away feeling guilty, being afraid someone would step into the remains I had left there.

The entire night it had been raining and I had never been so happy about rain as now. I figured the rain would clean up the mess I had left behind.  When the next day I took sir Oliver for a walk, and taking the exact same route, he luckily had a normal stool again. That was a big relief, as well as finding out that a big part of both placards had been washed away. Though still feeling guilty about the mess I had left behind.

It took a couple of days before I could no longer see anything sticking on the sidewalk. And I was wondering why I felt so guilty about it. Already several times I have stepped into other dog’s poop and people take such things as, shit happens. Not for me, for me it was different. As if I know how others deal with it!

And then a few days later I found why I still felt a bit guilty when thinking of those placards of poop. About 10 weeks ago I had made a promise that I would clean up after sir Oliver and not behave like most dog owners behave, I would set an example. And there I was, left with a mind telling me that I had broken my own promise. So that was the undercurrent I had felt and that was the guilt I had experienced. I had made a promise with myself and the rest of the world and broke it. And breaking a promise is a big thing within society and it had been for me as well, it was my social programming.

I thought I had let go of making promises years ago, since they always promote misery. I like making agreements and be honest with myself, rather than promises. And in this case I could have agreed on cleaning up after sir Oliver when I have the tools to do so and if not go over to plan B and make the best out of it as possible. That way I would not have any reason to feel guilty, I had done my best and from a practical point of view.

I thought I had lost, making promises, on purpose and now I found one hidden in my mind. Time to say goodbye and get myself and sir Oliver more agreements. Life can be so simple if we let it be simple.