Several weeks ago we hired Barkbusters to come to our home and teach us how to train our dog to behave. Milli is a 12-month-old Tibetan terrier (not a true terrier)–energetic and happy, but also jumpy, barky and many times out of control. We didn’t know what to do, and certainly did not understand this dog! It was to a point where we were angry with her much more often than we enjoyed/appreciated her.
The morning of our first training Steve freaked me out. I thought he had been joking when he texted me from work several days before, saying he would not be at the training session because he was going golfing. I thought we had the issue resolved–he didn’t want me to reschedule for a time when he could be home, and I thought he was as serious as I was about being there for our training (meaning he would give up his golf game). But that morning as he was going out the door he turned to the dog and said, “OK Milli, when I get home I would like you to bring me my pipe and slippers.” A joke, yes, but you are going to be home this afternoon, right? No, I already told you I am going golfing. And then he left for work.
I couldn’t believe it. I sat in the bedroom on the floor by our bed and cried. Focused on compassion toward myself. Watched the responses in my body, feelings and mind. What is it? What is it? Something came up about my dad. Is he leaving me? Abandoning me? I will be completely Alone. I continued to send myself love as the tears fell.
I can tell Steve the truth about how I feel.
And he has made up his own mind. I need to let go of trying to change the situation. Or influence it.
Possibilities opened up. I called Steve at work, told him how I felt, what I was afraid of, and asked for his training wish list.
He thinks it will be fine. Will be better. I can tell him what I learn. He can start from scratch. I told him he doesn’t always believe what I say. Gets mad at the way I say things sometimes. He heard that. It was fine.
So, I thought to myself, I will try this. The universe is telling me something. Step up to the plate. Take action when you are called to. You wanted this training, so step right up and do it. I didn’t do that with my boss. There was too much other crap and layers of pain and patriarchy involved. But that is not the case with Steve. He just envisions a different way from my way–the way I had assumed was the only “right” way.
Breathe. This moment. Be Present. I am here.
The training was exhausting, and both Milli and I went to bed early that night! The next morning I wrote in my journal:
Yesterday I received CLEAR training on how to be a pack leader. I can see years of mental structures about how to train and correct a dog, and the guilt and anxiety that came out of my firm, judgmental and sometimes angry approach to dog training. It is difficult, as I practice new skills with Milli and try to let old habits go. This is only Day 2!
No physical contact for corrections. Use a clear, calm voice. Growling voice tones and a tall, calm body presence are what I need to use to correct a misbehaving dog.
Wow! This, in and of itself, has seeds of transformation for me. Spiraling deeper into my habit energies, learned as a child, to look at, release, and replace with more effective actions. Milli is already behaving differently. This is a blessing for me. I am learning a new way to be a leader–a pack leader at that 🙂
P.S. Our trainer, Lisa, told me that many men don’t show up for the training. In all fairness to Steve, he is serious about training Milli and was there for our second training 🙂 At this point, both of us are pack leaders in our own home–more or less! Milli is much better behaved these days. We are still practicing, and have been told that this is a process.