Bare with me, I will have an outstanding epiphany by the end of this post…
Here is my beautiful girl, Dezzie, she is three years old. I rescued her a week before Christmas. I have had her for 8 weeks. I love her.
Dezmond Kitty Johnson (Yes, that is her full, given name, courteousy of me!) was born on October 9th in 2013. She was purchased from a breeder. The woman who had purchased Dezzie was not able to handle the 55 pounds of energy this girl hit at age three and she decided to re-home her. I have a 10-year-old, silver golden-doodle named Dora and thought that she needed a friend. We lost our cat to old age and our Shi Tzu to cancer, both in the same year. Dora no longer had play mates. October 9th is the day my husband and I got married and since Dezzie was born on October 9th, I believed Dezzie was born to be ours!
Fast forward to reality! I have had my 10-year-old, Dora, since she was 11 weeks old. I knew she was going to be a big dog and I trained her accordingly. She is the most laid back, gentle giant at 85 pounds. I could not have asked for a better experience raising a dog from puppy to adult. Dora is a dream dog! Dezzie is three. She is hyper. She jumps on people, barks at other dogs, people, and the TV! She is a hunter and tries to kill all critters. To my horror, Dezzie believes small dogs and cats are to be considered critters as well. She is very smart and very naughty. Two weeks of training went out the window when her old owner came to visit … I really saw what I was up against! Playing “chase” with a big dog is not recommended nor is patting your chest so they jump up on you. (Thought everyone knew that.)
We visited the veterinarian yesterday. I was running late and chose not to put her Gentle Lead on. This is a very humane, vet recommended, restraining device that is fitted around the dog’s nose to assist you gently redirect your dog from pulling, jumping, and attacking critters. (Eventually they won’t need this training device.) Mistake! Huge error in judgment! What do we see when we enter the Vet’s office? According to Dezzie, critters! By the time we were sequestered in the examining room, I was shaking, sweating, and out of breath. She had chased, jumped on people, and barked at everything. I was a total wreck. I looked at her in the exam room as she was lying on the cool floor completely happy, tail wagging and looking up at me. She has the most beautiful big brown eyes… Then it happened. Epiphany! This was my fault! It was up to me to teach her how to treat others, critters included. This was my job and I couldn’t do it if I was a hot mess, literally.
As we exited the veterinary office after her exam, we left as a very different owner and dog unit. I was the master, the one in charge and she was the dog, a pup really, obeying my commands. She could feel my stress, my anxiety, as I feared she would act out. So she did just what I feared, she acted out! She felt my anxiety and was therefore anxious. She saw my stress and was therefore stressed! A couple of deep breaths, a readjustment of my posture, and a firm command for her to sit followed my epiphany. I lead her out of that exam room, she did not lead me. I walked her out the door, she did not walk me… well it went almost that smoothly! I had to re-direct a few times, commanding sit and stay. She did listen. My naughty little 55 pound energizer bunny listened to her mama! She received praise.
I had this skill set. I was trained to respond to stressful events without anxiety and in a calm manner. I used these skills in my line of work which included corrections and social work. Had I lost my ability to use these skills once I developed Fibromyalgia Syndrome? Nope. I just forgot I had the power. I had the knowledge. I had the ability to choose my response. Even if you are not trained in an official capacity, you too have the power to choose your reactions. This is a very powerful skill once practiced; no illness, no circumstance, no single person can take from you!
Fibromyalgia tends to make you feel out of control, stressed and filled with anxiety because you do not know what your outcome will be. You do not even know how you will physically feel in an hour! You must come to terms with the knowledge that you cannot control unforeseen events that happen in your life. You can only control your response. Stop worrying about what might happen, how you might feel and choose to respond to what is happening and what you are feeling. I was choosing my responses with my illness, but not my dog. I’ve had fibromyalgia for 20 years, I’ve only had Dezzie for 8 weeks. Time to choose my response! I’m not going to react with stress and anxiety to a 55 pound dog nor an illness. Seriously. I got this!
Dear Dezmond Kitty Johnson,
I adopted you when you were only three years old. I loved you immediately. You are a beautiful girl who has stolen my heart. You are full of energy and a little bit naughty. Even though I think it is funny at times when you are naughty, I can’t continue to let you be a naughty pup. So I want you to know I will train you, discipline you and praise you. You are my dog and I am your owner. I will do what is best for you and what is best for me. You will be loved, cared for, and sheltered. You will be protected and kissed on the nose. You will obey me and you will change your behavior on my command. Thank you, Dezzie, for reminding me that I can choose to raise you up to be a good dog and that the choice was mine all along.