Dramatic headline, yes I know, you know why? Because I want to make a point. I didn’t “really” nearly kill my dog of course but what did happen serves as a grim reminder that it’s what we humans do on a daily basis and it eats away at the fun of being alive. In that sense it can kill us – and our canine friends.
So here’s the story first and then the morale.
A bit over 1,5 years ago a lovely Labrador puppy found its way into our small family (my son and I).
This was – and still is – a huge decision on my side as I am technically not a dog person. I’m one of those feline worshippers and dog drool has forever appalled me. But as mothers we of course do what we need to do and since my son has no dad and no siblings it was just natural to have a dog as a friend.
The problem arose right away with this wild little thing on four legs :). I couldn’t control her. I’ve tried going to two different dog trainers, we never lasted. In the end I gave up. She always followed the most basic of all commands “no” every time so I figured I can indeed at least stop her from doing something she ought not to do. That meant that walking with her outside the property was a huge mission. When I let her lose I learned it was a big mistake, she just took off with some other people and their dogs.
So the walks and outings became very rare indeed. The dialogue in my head went something like this:
(Voice A): You really ought to take the dog for a walk
(Voice B): Yes, but you can’t control her on the leash and you can’t control her off the leash. This then will result in a huge waste of time trying to contain her and time is not on your side.
A: Hmmm, she should smell some other things.
B: Yes, but at least she got a nice big garden and she runs around in there.
A: She really ought to …
B: It’s simply too much effort. The thought of going out with her makes you way too anxious. Another stress factor in your life, do you really need that? She’s fine at home.
Needless to say voice B generally won the argument. One of those trainers got me a “halty” which helped tremendously controlling her to some degree on the leash and so every now and then I braved going out like that. But it was always unpleasant.
So we have fear and guilt in the mix, wrangling it out between them. The result was paralysis and the dog hardly ever got outside her four walls.
And then she had a wound on her hind leg that simply wouldn’t go away. The vet explained it’s a nervous disorder, very rare in lab’s for that matter, and if it doesn’t go away she might need anti-depressants. Ouch. That’s a punch in the middle region. The guilt trip is now huge, because of course voice A is now telling voice B that if I hadn’t been so fearful this dog would have more balance in its life and not lick a wound into inflammation.
So the decision follows that no matter what, we have to change this dog’s life. And so one fine day I realize there’s an empty spot in the calender round about picking up my son from school so I decide to take the dog and just face the consequences of letting her off the leash. If she runs away, well so be it. She’s tagged so there’s a good chance that she’ll be returned and perhaps it would serve her as a lesson. The day was last week and it served like a big slap in the face – my face.
This amazing and wonderful dog (who I love absolutely dearly by now, drool or not) would not wonder off at all. Not once. She always was with us, always ran a little ahead, sniffed here and there, ran wild but always checking where we were and never losing us. The sigh of relief on the one side and even bigger guilt on the other (for not doing this earlier) was huge. However the guilt didn’t last long, because what’s past is past and right now that dog is in heaven. She of course has outgrown puppyhood and is in her late adolescence thus a lot calmer and understanding of how life works.
So – what can we learn out of this story?
The biggest lesson I take away is that FACT is not necessarily TRUTH.
This is one of the discussion points (Fact vs Truth) that come up when I take my clients through a 1 on 1 coaching program and it’s a tough one. Fact is reality isn’t it? And the answer is yes. But the big lesson is that fact is not always necessarily also truth. And only truth matters.
In this dog story of mine fact is that the dog had a past of running away. My subconscious mind was programmed with “dog runs away when off leash” and since I never owned a dog before I didn’t know any better. To me that was a fact of life and thus a reality. However, for all those people with more understanding (those with dog experience) it is obvious that this is not truth. To me in the moment the fact of a dog running away has become truth but only because I, in my mind, made this fact a truth.
Once I decided to re-test that fact, to re-evaluate it, to see if it still had merit by facing the fear that surrounded it and stepping right into it the whole fact evaporated into thin air. I could see that I was basing my decision on fact instead of truth. And that truth is and was that by now the dog has long outgrown it’s adolescent behaviour and had grown into a responsible and caring canine friend.
So here’s my lesson of the week: re-examine all facts you are currently basing your decisions on and test them against the question of whether they are still truth, or ever have been or ever will be.
Already this lesson has brought light into other areas of my life where I claim fact falsely as truth.
Have you ever scrutinized your facts in this light?