Humanity Lessons from a Puppy Lesson

Verity  WinstonEmpathy for animals and plants will give us the real information we need to care for ourselves and our environment.  What is happening to them is happening to us.

I'm reviewing my journal, starting from February 2012 and finding snippets to share.

Twenty months ago my dog, Treya, was seven months old and enrolled in Part II of her Puppy Manners Class.  I had to miss a Saturday class so my friend took her for me and went through the lessons with Treya and the other dogs and dog owners.

Picture is as they were then. Winston on left. Treya on right. 

When we met up later in the day my friend said, “Treya is so self confident. She handled herself well and wasn't intimidated or shy.”

I said, “That's because she gets a lot of love.”

But that was the short hand explanation.  I mused about Treya's self confidence in my journal, and now share it with you.

I wrote:

Treya has a secure home, constant companionship – human and dog (my then 12 year old terrier corgi, Winston) with a little cat (Jack and Bodhi, two cats who keep their distance but still are an every day living presence in my home).  

She gets plenty of stimulation: garden life, that includes plants, birds, possums, rats, racoons, maybe lizards, plenty of squirrels. She has two windows cut into my carport door so both dogs get a clear view of the sidewalk and street action.  She has toys. (Her toys and toys she didn't know at the time were not hers, like pillows, tablecloths, unattended shoes and leather purses.)

She gets intellectual stimulation from my instructions and Winston too.  She has her crate "cave" for night time sleeping where she feels secure.  She can't do anything wrong there.  And nothing bad can happen to her there. She is in peace, secure and can sleep deeply - just what a puppy needs.

She's tolerant of a variety of sounds because she is exposed to sounds from the street, home appliances, computer sounds which she has learned are all okay.

She has clean food and water delivered on a reliable schedule, cuddles, play with me and Winston, and a caring response to her communications.  She has developed a tolerance for my leaving and returning.  Her world is healthy, considerate and secure. She gets to go on adventures. We walk in the neighborhood, go to the park plus she travels with me in the car on various errands when the weather is cool. 

I went on to say: We all need that.  Maybe it’s too much for everyone to get.  But we humans need to recognize what these components are so we can go for what we lack plus preserve and protect what we have.  Education, clean food and shelter, caring environment, responses to our communications, adequate room to move – body and mind – and healthy stimulation in appropriate quantities.

We need all of this, and we need it infused with love.

end of journal entry

Do you have in your life what made Treya a self confident puppy? What's missing?  How can you put it in your life?

Please let me know if you found value in this article.  It's going to take me some time to plough through this journal.  Shall I post other mini essays I find?


0 # Re-balancing!shh 2013-10-29 16:44


I find this post really effective and helping me to re-balance my life.

When I read that list of things that are essential to Treya's self-confidence and well-being, I can very easily go "oh yeah, I get all of those things"...when what I really mean is, "well several months ago I was getting all of those things, and I still have those things accessible and within reach if I need/want them". The reality is, I have let things slip, I get more of some of the aspects than I probably need and very little or none of others, just the comfort of knowing they're there for when I need them.

I'm going to spend some time looking at this in more detail next week when my girls are back at school (they're off for half-term holidays this week).

Just skimming that list, I can see that I've let slip my regular walks, finding time for a social life/relationships, making sure I get enough hours sleep, caring for the wildlife that visits my garden and making time to enjoy it's presence, as well as more direct self care that I need to attend to now that I have the time - hair cut, dentist, eating/weight etc.

Thank you for this, it's a great reminder that attending to food/eating alone is not enough to combat a relapse, there's so much else that's fallen by the wayside too!

0 # not just about foodpinkjoanna 2013-10-29 17:44
Shh, eating behaviors are the symptom, not the core of the life situation.  I'm so glad to see you recognize that all the components of a healthy life relate to eating disorder recovery.

We often overeat or starve when one or more of those components are lacking, especially safety.  Being safe and secure involves a lot of awareness and self care effort that cannot be postponed without dire consequences.
0 # It's more physical than thatshh 2013-10-29 18:43

Interestingly, I do feel very safe and secure, when my head hits the pillow I'm asleep within minutes, and I sleep well - I couldn't have said that 2-3 years ago, I have always been a very poor sleeper, which I realise was about hypervigilance due to fear of being abandoned by my mother....but none of that is an issue anymore.

I realise that I eat for every reason possible - for reward, for commiseration, for motivation, because I'm stressed, because I'm celebrating, because I "should" - as in I should sit with my girls and eat a decent home-cooked meal, regardless of how much food I've already secretly consumed, because if I don't eat it something will get wasted, or somebody will eat it and then I won't have had any (childhood stuff)...

...sometimes it's hard to pinpoint why, other than the overwhelming urge, sometimes even when I journal I get answers as to why I'm eating, but I don't know how to deal with them.

More often than not thesedays when I eat, it's either because I'm stressed or because I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of a task ahead. I'm realising as I'm typing that it's a bit of a spiral at the moment, because part of why I'm eating is around the impact of getting this heavy again, and forget the psychological impact, just the physical impact - I get out of breath easily, my joints hurt, my range of mobility is reduced, none of my clothes fit anymore - I don't even own a coat that fits now that it's getting short, the magnitude of a lot of tasks that used to be just every day things is now overwhelming, and if I let things build up that I can't face doing or struggle to do, then that becomes even more overwhelming....and all of this just fuels the urge to eat.

I know I have to deal with this, I know that even a modest weight loss would mean that things would start to be less difficult/painful to do, and less overwhelming to contemplate doing, and therefore start to diminish the need to eat...I just need that initial chunk off to get me to that point. Most of the things I've allowed to slip, I've gradually stopped doing because of my weight increase. I know initially I regained some weight because of the stress of taking on too much workload-wise and the impact of hubby becoming a woman - both emotionally, esp because of our girls; and  then adjusting to living on my own with the girls, plus the financial impact - but I'm okay with most of that now, the original drivers for the eating have gone and been replaced with the ones relating to my resulting size.

And that makes me cry, cos it's just so hard to get the eating under control enough, to lose enough, so that it doesn't hurt to walk, and I'm not constantly full of aches and pains - that's all I want, if I could get there, then I could get myself back firmly into recovery, like I was last year.



0 # CatPTC 2013-10-31 07:05
I take better care of my cat than I do myself.  I only have one now (I think I mentioned before that i had to put my other one to sleep in June :sad: )  I did anything and everything to make sure that she would eat and be taken care of.  I do that with her brother still.  I make appointments for them if I think something is wrong.  For me, I just wait it out because "I'll feel better soon."
0 # cats as teacherspinkjoanna 2013-10-31 09:30
What's your cat's name, PTC?

Here's a thought.  Your being able to take care of her is the most important caretaking responsibility of all.

You might think of caring for yourself as well as you care for your cat so that you can continue to care for your cat in the best way possible.

What do you think about that?

0 # MeowPTC 2013-10-31 18:43

Yeah, but I think I care more about taking care of him than I do myself. He's my little guy.  He's 16.  His sister was died a few months after their 16th birthdays.  His name is LB.  I wonder if he misses her as much as I do, or if he just loves the extra attention he gets from me.  

Here is the link to pictures of my little squisher.  She was the best.  [censored]://[censored]

I give my little guy IV fluids once a week for his kidneys.  I think he takes care of me too.

0 # Re: Meowpinkjoanna 2013-10-31 22:19
Wow, PTC.  You got great close ups.  This cat must have felt so safe and at ease with youto keep her eyes wide open and stay present while you took the picture.

I agree with you.  Companion animals take care of us while we take care of them.  It's definitely a reciprocal and generous relationship.   :-)
0 # Big EyesPTC 2013-11-01 04:52
Thanks.  I could tell that she loved me just as much as I love.  Everyone always commented on her big eyes.  They'd see her and say, "She has the biggest eyes."  She was my baby.
0 # a different lesson from my new dogKymL 2013-11-01 21:25
It's interesting that you posted about dog lessons when I've been noticing a lesson from my new dog. I got Dayzee early July and she is a rescue dog.  She is the sweetest thing ever, loves to cuddle and I'm told she cries when I leave.  I don't know what her past included, but she is afraid of so many things!  The toast popping, the click of locking the door, walking on man hole covers, things being out of place and any and all loud or sudden noise or movement.  I bought a book on how to help fearful dogs and I've been working hard on developing a trusting relationship with her.  I've gotten her past a few of her fears which has made our morning walks much easier and enjoyable. 

So I feel really good about how I'm doing with my dog relationship, however, once again, I've found a way to avoid working so hard on my relationship with people, especially my partner.  Two days ago while I kissing and saying hello to Dayzee after coming home from work, and my partner said she was jealous.  She said it with a laugh, but I don't think she was joking. 

I know I have the ability to give love: I do it in other relationships, but I struggle with the one that matters the most.  It's totally fear!  And each time I think I just need to move past the fear, something distracts me; many times my ED stuff. 

I don't mean to compare a relationship with a dog to a relationship with a partner, but the last couple days I thought I need to transfer the lessons and skills learned from loving Dayzee to my partner.  I've told myself this a thousand times, but I need to look fear in the eye and grow forward!!   
0 # Yes, our animals are teacherspinkjoanna 2013-11-01 22:11
Relationships are relationships, Kym.  Dayzee sounds like a great teacher.  

So you are on noitice now:  You are to give more of what you give to Dayzee to your partner (not giving less to Dayzee).  You expand yur capacity to feel and to give.

And, you are to reassure yourself as you reassure Dayzee.  What she needs to be less fearful may be what you need to be less fearful too.  

And while we on the subject, why aim for less fearfull?  Why not aim for self confident?


0 # had thought of thatKymL 2013-11-01 22:20
So you're so right Joanna, I hadn't thought of using the same techniques I read about for Dayzee on myself. hmmm, That would include being mindful of what the triggers are and not judging them, using soft. comforting voice while approaching the fearful thing, praising for success or improvement, and  holding with love when the panic strikes.  I think you might be on to something :-)

And yes, self-confident does make it more positive :-)   I've been on a roll with that! 

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