Saturday, October 16, 2010

Searching for Nirvana

(Originally posted Sept 15, 2010)

It's been a rough week here in the Dizzy household. The big news is that I switched jobs, moving from night shift (where I've been for the last three years) to a daytime clinic job. I wouldn't recommend it. My circadian rhythm is completely shot; I'm exhausted by noon and wide awake at two in the morning. I've also been pulling ten hour days to keep up. We had Murdoch with us for the weekend - that group shot took me about three and a half hours to get, by the way. That was on top of an already busy weekend schedule: RenFest and graduating the tricky pitties (I miss them already), plus helping my mom out with her craft show. Then I spent two hours with the vet on Monday with Maus, which is an adventure in itself, trying to find the cause of the two seizures he's had this month.

I'm not telling you all this to complain (well, not just to complain). I want to show you how being stressed affects the dogs. Just the schedule change is a big deal. The herd went from having someone around all day to being kenneled for a big chunk of the day. B has definitely taken it the hardest. I've often heard people say that it takes a month or two for a new pet to settle into their home. I think it takes closer to nine to twelve months before a dog really understands their place in the world, particularly when we're talking about a dog like B, who's been shuffled around a lot. Rubi's stress has manifested in the form of selective hearing, backsliding in her reactivity, and just general anxiety - where before she might have just watched us wander around the house, she now follows us, curling into a tight, tense little ball when she thinks we've stopped for a rest. Allister's been hit next hardest. A friend commented to me the other day that his whining and separation anxiety seems to be getting worse. Even Piper is a little wired, refusing to give up toys, something she hasn't done since she was a teenager. Note: the dogs aren't being obstinant, reasserting their dominance, or acting out. Dogs don't to those things. People do those things, and we are ever so quick to assign our faults to other creatures. They, like me, are simply stressed and have lost the fine tuning to their training.

So B and I will not be going to class tonight.

Dog trainers - the good ones, at least - talk a great deal about setting your dog up to succeed. I'd like to take that further: let's set the human up to succeed as well. I can't imagine any way in which going to class this week will be beneficial. I'm tired and tense. I think that if one more bad thing happens to me today, there's a good chance I might burst into tears, even if it's just burning the mac and cheese. Rubi is also not feeling so great. I already know her training has back slid a bit, and I can't see how adding more stress hormones into her body can possibly help. We've got enough to work on at home.

Instead, I cleaned the bird cages. The dogs and I played ball in the yard for an hour. I took Allister to the pet store to buy some treats - ahem, er - very important necessities.  And when I'm done up-dating the diary, I'm going to go read a book while the dogs get a head start on bedtime.

I don't know about all of you, but I got dogs to be bored with them. To play ball in the yard and to go shopping with. I got them so I could sit on the porch drinking coffee with the sunrise and sleepy dogs in the summer, and to curl up with a book, a blanket, and a pit bull on cold, winter nights. I did not adopt them to educate the public or provide breed ambassadors or to win ribbons at shows. I have dogs so that we might share each other's day to day lives, the ups and the downs. I wanted dogs for comfort and companionship, and for what inner peace we can give each other.


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