Musings on change, from the dog…


Remember me?  I’m Harley, Mom’s adorable four legged companion. She said I could write the bite this week and share what change is like from MY perspective. 

Are you ready?

It’s dog gone hard! I came home with mom about 4 months ago and initially it seemed like I was a star. She took me everywhere, let me sleep with her and raved about me to all her friends. I was in dog heaven!

Then I started to reveal my true self and things seemed to go south in a hurry. Turns out, I’m an incredible athlete so one day I decided to sail over the front fence and into the street. Three times. Mom went nuts but I thought, “Woof! Relax, that was fun! I thought you coached people to tap into their gifts!”

It also turns out I have separation anxiety. One time, my mom left me alone in the house while she went to a neighbor’s (I’ve heard her tell people it was for 12 minutes but really, I think it was 12 days) Anyway, I decided the way to handle my anxiety was to mark up the front door with my claws. If you ask me, I created a masterpiece, what with all the grooves and lines making a really cool pattern in the wood.  Sadly, mom didn’t see it that way. (Whoa doggies, have you ever seen the veins in a human’s neck stick out when they’re mad? I wish I’d had a camera but I wasn’t exactly thinking about snapping a photo at that moment.) 

If I had to put my paw on it, I’d say that’s the day the shit hit the fan and my life really changed. 

For starters, mom’s neighbors helped her add an extension on to the fence so I can’t jump over it anymore. Killjoys. 

Also, I no longer get to sleep with mom (something about how she has to establish herself as the ‘Alpha’. Yeah, Alpha Schmalpha.) Now I stay in a crate overnight or whenever mom leaves the house and I’m going to be alone.

Talk about change that was scary and awful! I hated that crate at first and I howled my lungs out. But over time, it’s where I’ve learned to feel safe and secure (Ok, I don’t always love it but you get my point!) 

What started out as hard and scary turned out to be the best thing for me.  Has change ever happened like that for you?

The other big change I want to tell you about is that Mom and I have started seeing a trainer named Mati. (Mom laughingly tells her friends that we’re going to ‘couples therapy’. Oh she’s soooo funny.) I can’t tell if I like Mati or not because she shows my mom how to make me do things I don’t want to do, like ‘come’ and ‘stay in place’ and stupid stuff like that. (What I really I want to know is why mom doesn’t also have to wear an e-collar?) 

So as you can see, change is in the air at my new home and I’ve balked (and barked) at a lot of it!  That’s why I want to share what I’m learning since mom’s been talking about all these different perspectives on change.  Here’s mine: 

• Change is hairy and makes you feel anxious. You might even be tempted to act out and destroy stuff. If you feel that way, try this instead: Take a pause (Get it? Paws) Realize you’re probably scared because you don’t know what’s going to happen (like I felt when my mom left me for 12 days). This is when it’s good to stretch and move your body around. Do some ‘down dog’ or ‘up dog’. My favorite is the full body shake out. Do this often throughout the day because it’ll make you’ll feel better.

• If you ignore the signals, there are going to be consequences.  As in, you might get in trouble like I do at times. But also, you’re probably not going to maximize your potential and be all you can be. (This never mattered much to me before I met my mom but now I’m a believer!)  I’m trying to look at the signals as something that might help me. Maybe that’ll work for you too.  

• People who go through change sometimes growl and bark at you. Not like I might, but it can sure feel like that!  It means they’re tense and having a hard time too. Some of these people even lose their sense of humor (I won’t name names). Try not to take it personally and start practicing what I call ‘shedding go’. (Others call this “Let Go, Let Dog”) All I know is it works!  Don’t forget to keep wagging your tail and giving wet kisses too. That seems to help everyone calm down.  

• There’s always something to sniff and learn. Mom often says “every moment is a learning opportunity” in this sing songy voice and sometimes I just want to gag. But I think she’s right! I just wish she’d realize there are also times there isn’t a dog gone point to anything and you should just go play or dig or lie in the grass and look up at the sky. You can learn a lot by just watching. Try it! 

• Change might bring you treats. I resist doing new things a lot. Sometimes I pout or put my tail between my legs.(have you ever done that?) But then I decide to just try (ok, with big ‘prompts’ from Alpha Schmalpha) and a lot of times, I get a treat. Mom’s voice goes up and she tells me I’m a good girl and it doesn’t get any better than that (well, I still think she should have to wear a collar.) Change is bringing me some tasty treats and it could bring you some too! 

• You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. (and a young one too). No matter what age you are, it’s hard to stop doing the old stuff and start doing new stuff. But with daily walks, patience and the R word (repetition, repetition, repetition), things do get better. (If you don’t believe me, take a good look at the photo above and see how I’m sitting calmly while watching the ducks. 30 days ago, those little hummers would’ve been in my mouth.)  

• Don’t try to train yourself, it doesn’t work. Get help. I’m pretty sure I’d be on the streets if I didn’t have someone like mom who sees my potential. In spite of being really smart (and ridiculously cute), there’s no way I could figure out on my own how to put my best paws forward. Make sure you find someone who will love you and stick with you and give you lots of hugs and treats and tell you everything is going to be ok. Because it is. 

The bottom line?  Change is stretching both of us to be better.   

And THANK DOG! because someone (who shall remain nameless) seems to have found her sense of humor again. (well, mostly) 

That alone is worth howling about!   

How’s your training going?  Mom loves hearing from you!