Archive for August 27th, 2009

Buddy’s energy has been low for a few days now.

I’ve gotten used to him, on these hot/warm summer days, sleeping the afternoon away in his doghouse – and even demurring from walks.  But he has also seemed “not himself” sometimes in the mornings and evenings – and he did behave so oddly last night.

This morning we were taking our usual walk back up the hill behind our house. For the last few days, he has mostly been just walking – no happy trotting across Hal’s huge front yard.  This morning, as he was sniffing at some of Hal’s little pine trees, his little white friend from further up the hill came running up to him.  She went through her usual ritual of inviting him to chase: standing rigid, kind of nose-to-nose with him, then making a quick start back to the right or left.  Buddy usually loves playing these chase games with her and will immediately take off in hot pursuit.  (She’s faster than him, but she either slows down so he can keep up or doubles back to start the game again.)  Today Buddy just stood there.  He seemed happy to see her, but just not up to chasing.  After she tried a few times (with me standing and watching, so he knew that i was not leaving), he just walked away from her, towards me, and continued walking up the hill.  Very unusual.

When my son was growing up, i sometimes went through certain kinds of anxieties that i know are common among parents.  Although Terry was, all things considered (divorced parents and, after age 6, a dad who lived 300 miles away), a very well adjusted kid with great social skills, sometimes i would observe him have an awkward exchange with another kid or choose to play on his own when there were other great kids around to play with – and i would start to worry.  “Is he developing OK?  Are his social skills really what they need to be?  Are my limitations as a parent screwing him up?”  Sometimes i knew that these anxieties were pure neurosis on my part, and other times i tended to give them more stock.

Terry is 33 now, a very well adjusted young man with a terrific personality, wonderful friends and a fabulous wife.  There is more than enough evidence that my anxieties about his development were nothing more than standard parenting insecurities.  So why do i still get anxious almost every time my dog behaves strangely?

Trust comes hard for us humans – i know that.  We are chronically going in and out of various states that are all variations of “something is going wrong” – or “something has gone wrong”, “something is about to go wrong”…or past/present/future tense of  “I’m doing something wrong”.  As flawed, insecure humans, we go back and forth between love and fear.  We alternate between the “something wrong” states and then genuinely blessed states of, sometimes just a little and other times more strongly, trusting that all is well.

I’m trying to remember that when i think something is going wrong with Buddy, that usually is just a projection based on me being at that moment out of sorts with myself and with my place in the cosmos.  It’s not really him and his life that i’m worrying about, it’s me – and he then is a mirror, reflecting what’s up in me.  After all, he has frequently over the last days seemed absolutely fine: playing with Lucy (his best friend), cuddling happily with me, perching himself in various spots in the back yard and looking very content – at times almost regal.  He’s still doing his watchdog barking thing – one of his absolute favorite games – with great enthusiasm.

It really seems pretty useful that Buddy is so often a mirror for me of my inner states, somewhere on the continuum from fear to love.  Knowing my starting point at that particular moment is very useful.  I then get a chance to love that.

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