While still experimenting with finding a nice basic route for sir Oliver’s walks, I decided today to let sir Oliver decide where to go.
When we leave the house he first sniffs in the air, then he glues his nose to the ground and almost non-stop he follows traces and tracks down any poop or pee done by any other dog, as well as mapping out people and their odors. Here the Beagle in him is coming through a 100 percent.
So since he loves to ‘track and trace’, I followed his nose and see where it would bring us. Now where did I get this, in the moment great sounding idea, from? I still do pity sir Oliver for what he has been through as a laboratory dog. Now he’s finally free free, I wanted to give him real freedom. And yes, that is a fantasy in itself, because letting him walk unleashed and free would be quite a mistake for a dog that is not yet trained, not socialized and only for a short period with us. Therefore I used a derivative version of this fantasy, to follow sir Oliver’s nose while him being on a leash.
There we went, the 2 of us. He immediately took a very different direction of what we had been doing so far. In fact it was the first route we took when we went outside with him, and that route was leading us into a bit of a green park like area and then it ended in a dead end when going straight or it lead us into an industrial area when going left. So we could turn around after the park ended or follow sir Oliver’s nose and go who knows where. It ‘felt’ quite liberated to follow his nose, so we went under the flyover and my total body said: not a good idea. But hey, I ignored half of me, sending out some common sense signals. So we walked, had to cross a busy road with trucks and I could see sir Oliver not being quite comfortable with it. Though the traces were stronger than himself and we walked further. At the next traffic lights sir Oliver was overstimulated by his surrounding and I was full of guilt of what I was putting him through.
He refused to take another step in the direction we needed to go, to get home. I tried to figure out what the best and fastest way was to get home as soon as possible. I carried sir Oliver over the crosswalk and felt his little heart beating fast. What a monster was I, that I thought I could be his savior, whileI was not taking responsibility for his well-being. How could sir Oliver ever know what route would be best for him. He doesn’t know yet the area where we brought him to, he doesn’t have a GPS inside of him. I mean my daughter didn’t buy a pigeon after all.
So when we came home, sir Oliver took a nap after his very (over)stimulating adventure. It was obvious that he was dreaming about it, when seeing his body making movements in his sleep. I still felt guilty, and I had been feeling guilty from the start already, for what society had done to him as a lab animal. And now when my daughter had adopted sir Oliver I really thought I could do good, make up for those years. That and my perception of freedom brought me to act this way and the savior personality wasn’t able to hear common sense due to the fear of losing itself. Freedom is not necessarily doing whatever you want without taking any self-responsibility. When sir Oliver’s well-being is in my hands, I have to be responsible for both of us. I have to provide him real stability and not chasing some illusion of what freedom is.
After siting down with myself and reflecting upon what had happened I decided that we needed a basic route for sir Oliver’s walks. That way he can become stable within interacting with his new environment, getting to know the dogs we pass by and align ourselves so sir Oliver and I can rely on each other. The idea is to have 3 slightly different walks for every time we go out in the morning, afternoon and evening.
I do not have to create freedom for sir Oliver, it is up to sir Oliver to become a dog again instead of a lab subject. And my task is to facilitate him with common sense so he can be the best Beagle he’s ever been in the near future.
What did I learn today? That guilt is a bad adviser to make decisions from and that I am not God and thus not able to erase sir Oliver’s past, I can only co-create his future, and I am glad to be part of that.