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Archive for August 29th, 2009

What is he releasing?

Tonight, as I was giving buddy a little bedtime cuddle, he shifted into what i believe to be a deep stress release, of a kind that i have seen in him only a couple of other times.

The night had been a little strange already.  When i went out to give Buddy a last walk for the evening, around 10 p.m., he refused to come out of his doghouse.  He usually comes bounding out of his doghouse to head down the driveway and then up the other side (though i seldom have the energy to go very far up the hill on the other side this late and in the dark).

The only other time i have seen him refuse to come out of his doghouse like this at night (he often will not leave it in the heat of the day) was the last time our mama bear came calling, about 8 days ago.  She never seems to come out of the woods until after midnight – and it was only when she appeared again on our front porch about 1 a.m. that i finally put 2 and 2 together.  He somehow knew that she was out there in the woods, even though his keen-scented hound dog friend had never sounded her alarm bark.  (Maybe the breeze was blowing the other way.)  So i was concerned, tonight, that mama bear might be back,  and I brought Buddy in for the night.

So maybe it was a bear in the woods that had him scared (if, in fact, it was fear that had him hunkered down in his doghouse) – or maybe the Fedex truck (which terrifies him about as much as that bear) had come up the the driveway to our neighbor Tom’s house (though it was kind of late for a Fedex delivery).

But, as i sat next to Buddy caressing his head (he adores having his ears rubbed), he started to hyperventilate – and wouldn’t stop.  Though i was tired and had to get up early the next morning, i decided that i would not leave him until he had gotten through whatever this was and started to relax.  It took about an hour.  His heavy breathing would relent for a few seconds and i would hope that he was starting to relax, but then he would go right back into it.  After about 30 minutes, he started to have more violent physical release – his legs tremored and then his whole body started to shake.  About another 30 minutes and he finally did relax.

It was pretty clear that he was again ok when i went over to the kitchen counter for a little bedtime snack and he happily came over and presented himself for a dog biscuit.  (I only get ones that are all natural and seeem, from the ingredients, to be almost as healthy as his dog cereal, so i never refuse him.)

Then i decided that i needed one last cigarette and went out onto the front porch.  I set up my cushions on the floor and against the chair behind me and he eagerly followed me out, then snuggled between my straddled legs.  (Outside and getting love – his favorite thing.)

But just as we settled in, i started hearing a sound from the direction of the woods that i didn’t like.  Maybe it was just somebody’s stereo rumbling its woofer down the road, but i’ve never heard music from down there.  There’s a guy down there that likes to get his buzz saw going at all hours of the night, but this didn’t sound like that.  I became convinced (though i’m still not sure i was right) that our bear was down there in the woods, grumbling.

What was it that caused this deep release from Buddy?  Was it some very immediate trauma or something further back.  The first time the bear came calling, a couple of weeks ago, i was already asleep and slept through the whole thing.  She knocked over Tom’s garbage can, about 40 yards out from our back door: that woke Tom up and he got a couple of photos out his bedroom window, but i did not know that we had had an ursine visitor until the next morning, when Tom brought down his photos.  But poor Buddy spent the entire night out there, probably similarly hiding out in his doghouse, with that bear probably in his direct line of sight, about 40 yards away.  I’m sure he must have been one terrified little dog.  So maybe that was what he was releasing tonight, perhaps having been triggered by believing -correctly or not – that the bear was out in those woods again.

Or maybe he was releasing something from much earlier – maybe even the abuse that he almost certainly went through in his first few months of life, before his last person rescued him from the pound.  I do believe that those early traumas can stick with us for a long, long time – especially since Buddy’s person for the eight years before me did not believe in giving him too much attention, the kind of attention that might have helped him release much of that trauma before he came to me.

Holly Near, way back in the 60’s, used to sing a song that went, “Come sit with me through the night while i cry”.  I’ve never forgotten those lyrics.  Buddy doesn’t cry – he just hyperventilates and shakes.  And i by god am not going to miss a chance to sit with him through the night while he does it.

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