What I Learned in Class Today...
Have you seen those people that see a pit bull and instantly take off in the other direction? Sometimes at a full sprint?
Yeah, I used to be one of them.
The Universe has a fun way of pushing me to face my fears. Partly because I asked for guidance and help to become more closely aligned with what God put me here for, but whatever. I ended up with a dog I never knew I needed or wanted. A 71lb pit bull named Miko. Read more about how that whole thing happened here in my last post.
Long story short, I fell in love with this sometimes gentle, sometimes fiercely protective and aggressive t-rex like giant. He’s always loving and gentle towards me, but stranger danger and other dog aggression are real. Miko doesn’t ever come for play when it comes to anyone and anything outside “the pack.”
We’ve been going to training classes for over 6 months, but due to some curve balls and an unexpected move (see prior mention of alignment) we missed classes for about a month. I was not excited about going back because all of the corrections and jerking the leash attached to the prong collar attached to the fiercely aggressive 71 pounder stresses me the --- out. Like massive anxiety during and tears after class stressed the --- out. Such is life though, and growth, no? So, sleepy and late due to “springing forward” for daylight savings, off to class we went.
We got there 5 minutes before class started and were the first ones there (apparently others were feeling the “savings” too). I brought a bag full of treats and a spray bottle that had been effective in getting him to stop charging the fence (the neighbor’s Frenchie is a jerk) if used before Miko loses his entire ish.
The first dog arrived. Miko started to go crazy. I sprayed him. He looked at me like I had thrown buckets of ice on him and stopped instantly. And so, class went. If he even sort of reacted, I sprayed. I never even had to use the prong collar. That alone makes me want to shout because that collar, while necessary for me to be able to manage his t-rex strength outbursts, scratches his neck to shreds when class goes poorly. This makes for a bad start to our week because I’m a stress filled teary ball of nerves by the time class is over.
Miko? Miko reacts to me. Moment by moment. So, the collar and scratches don’t so much bother him. Just like the busted lip and scratch over his eye did little to deter him from trying to knock the fence down to eat said Frenchie next door.
At first, I thought this spray bottle is from Jesus and for that I am thankful. I must carry one at all times, so we can be sane. But the truth is, the spray bottle is a tool. It allows me to correct Miko without stressing the heck out, which means he’s responding to a present, calm and collected mama. Not a stressed AF yelling mama who keeps jerking his leash and making
Miko hasn’t changed.
I found a tool that empowers me without stressing me.
The impact? I’m not stressing him out so he can listen and respond and not go into hyper protective mode because “mom is losing her ish and can’t take care of anybody right now!”. (which is what I imagine he’s thinking when I’m yelling and tearful and pulling him all over the place…)
Find tools that work for you to keep you in your authentic skin. For some people, jerking a choke/prong collar and flipping a 71lb t-rex on his back and wrestling him into submission isn’t stressful at all. For me, it sends me all the way outside of myself. Miko Lesson #86, I’m a softy. Yeah…
This experience has made me wonder what other magically simplistic tools are out there to help me be present and engaged say, at work when I feel dismissed by one of the million men that are in positions of authority over me. How I can engage with healthcare providers when I feel overlooked, like I’m just another number, and unheard. And countless other spaces where my frustration and anxiety take my power and smother it.
I am not powerless, and I don’t have to just muscle through. (Maybe I should carry a spray bottle to the next big meeting… wonder what HR would say.)
Also, Miko is an angel and I’m lucky to have such a sweet t-rex gentle giant of a mirror to walk this bit of my journey with.