Charlie, the pup, wants to play with Lucy, the cat. Lucy wants nothing to do with Charlie and surely thinks it is time for him to leave the house. Hasn’t he overstayed his welcome? He gets excited and jumps around and she, predictably, hisses, growls and swats her short stubby front leg at him. Although there are no claws, she gets him on the snout and he whimpers for a moment, running to mommy. Suddenly they are running through the house with Charlie chasing Lucy as she winds her way around the corner of the family room into the living room. I hear a slide and loud thump and see Charlie laying on the floor and taking his time getting up. As I run to him he slowly gets up and begins to run again to chase Lucy, this time with a little limp. He gets up the stairs ok so I let it all go, assuming it is already better, just the sting of it first happening, like when you hit your toe on a table leg. You limp for a few and then it works its way out.
The next day we are outside playing with the ball. Charlie has invented an entire game with me. He gets the ball after I throw it. A very smart retriever indeed, he just doesn’t give it back! Instead we run around the yard and he hides behind the dune grass. I reach through the dune grass and he moves away. Then he puts his body through the dune grass to entice me to steal the ball. This continues until he allows me to steal the ball out of his mouth to throw it again. One time as this was happening, he wiped out on the ice and the step up into the garden where the dune grass grows. He definitely took a while to get up but never whimpered or cried.
As I watched him over the course of the evening he limped a bit, got up slowly and let out little cries. I touched every part of the leg, with no reaction from him. I decided to wait until the morning to call the vet. Unfortunately, the vet didn’t have an appointment until the next day so I watched him carefully in case we needed to go to the emergency vet. His limping had disappeared when he walked but his running was a different story. He galloped with the right hind leg moving toward the left, not straight and I noticed he dragged it a few times. The vet agreed that something was off, and gave us an anti-inflammatory drug. He didn’t think there was anything else wrong, joints and tendons all felt ok. During this time, I watched my fabulous, smart, good dog become irritable. He nipped at me when I tried to put him in his crate, snarled and generally wasn’t as good and as vibrant as normal. When we went to the vet, he was his jolly, happy, excited self, not the nippy growler that I was dealing with.
I immediately thought,”I’m a bad fur mommy. Charlie doesn’t love me anymore. He wants someone else to be his mom.” Yep, that, my friends is the art of taking things personally! When things do not happen the way you want or expect, when someone rejects you, treats you differently than you want, it must be you! Truly an art! I have perfected this art with my gremlin of not being capable of being loved. I think I deal with the gremlin, get rid of it and then something comes a long that reminds me that it is so deeply engrained in my heart that moments like this will trigger it! I even had a meltdown on the kitchen floor, crying that I’m a terrible mommy, this must be why God never blessed me with children. He knew I would suck. During that meltdown, Charlie came right over and sat across my lap and just loved me.
Later in the day our trainer called letting us know that she couldn’t train on our normal day/time but was willing to set up a separate time to make up for the lesson. I began to tell her about this falls and personality change. I felt the tears sting my eyes as I told her I think he doesn’t love me anymore, he has changed, he’s not my sweet Charlie. She could hear it in my voice and immediately told me that wasn’t true. She said that he trusts me so he is showing me how he really feels. With others he is a people pleaser so he is hiding that he is in some pain. She was loving and caring and reminded me that I’m a very good fur mommy and that all will be ok.
As I hung up the phone I realized that this is truly the lesson. I immediately made it about me and me being less than what he needs, what he wants and therefore I’m not a good mom. I took his behavior completely personally when it wasn’t. Talk about putting something front and center for me to look at. I knew I did this with some things. An unanswered text or phone call, someone not reaching out for a while, any change in someone’s behavior always taken personally by me. I have been working at changing that reaction, being less catabolic and less the victim. However, the dog’s behavior pushed all the right buttons on me. The button of not being much of a woman since I never had children. The button of men leaving me for other women. The button of never being the best at anything. The button of not being good enough. It reminded me that there is still work to do around taking things personally and around the not being lovable gremlin.
That conversation allowed me to look at his behavior differently, to interpret it differently. I thought about what the trainer said and realized that he was letting me know he felt funny, something wasn’t completely right. As the drug begins to help him, I saw some progress as he ran. When I went to put him in his crate for the night, he didn’t fight me quite as much, he didn’t nip or snarl. He went to the crate and waited for his treat. I realized at that moment how right the trainer was and how personally I had taken his behavior.
One of the many things Charlie is teaching me. Do not take other people’s behavior so personally. Their reaction and behavior is about them. The art of taking things personally! Yes, it is an art that I have perfected and one I am so ready to let go. It is time to change this tune to “the art of taking nothing personally!”
It is time to dump this art and recognize fully that everyone is responsible and accountable for their reaction. I have to own taking it personally .
Charlie is lesson and blessing. Others have been lessons. Taking no responses personally