One thing I struggle with is impulsivity. I’m not always good about restraint and assessing all options before leaping. It has brought me some great unexpected benefits and some painful moments. This weekend my son and I received information regarding a dog that was at risk of euthanasia. We’re both animal lovers and without any real planning we went and picked up this un-adoptable, very scared dog. I’m not sure if this is one of those “great idea” moments or “what was I thinking” moments. What I do know is this pup is terribly scared of people (not loud noises, other dogs, storms, etc.). He’s doing better now but he spent the first 48 hours cowering in a corner scared to death.
I was reading an article the other day that discussed that the only difference between a feeling and an emotion was a story. For example, if someone cuts us off on the highway, we’re angry (feeling) but later that day we’ve completely forgotten about it and it holds no real meaning. A friend betrays our trust and causes us great pain and we may still be angry about it five years later (emotion). It’s an interesting concept. Makes me wonder what story my foster pup has. He’s not just experiencing a feeling, he’s experiencing an emotion – somewhere on his journey he experienced a very scary story.
So, what do you do with a pup that is so afraid of human contact he cowers in a corner? You give him a new story. You show him every day how people can be a source of love and compassion. You speak in soft, re-assuring tones. You’re patient when he runs from you for no reason. You don’t take his rejection personal because you understand, he’s got a story. It’s our job as dog foster parents to help him replace his old scary story with one that will benefit him, not keep him paralyzed in fear. We all have stories but if we have one that is taking away our options, affecting our future, and providing a negative emotion (fear, anger, etc.) we need to replace that story. As for the pup, I’ll let you know how it goes but I’m hoping he’s able to create a story that allows him to bond with a loving, forever family.