I have been stressed recently.
Looking back, this has probably been for the past five years or more.
Sure; there have been ups and downs. Periods of hilarity and significance – life has gone on.
It has only been over recent months that I noticed the change.
Funnily, it wasn’t anything in me that necessarily sparked this awareness; rather, my dog, Maisie.
Now, Maisie is quite an incredible pooch; the genetic test undertaken soon after we got her, informed me that she is part Dalmatian, part Smooth Fox-Terrier and well, part Pomeranian; I suspect the Terrier and the Pomeranian got-it-on before the Dalmatian, or, at least I hope so.
Anyway, she is quite a mixed-up hound; bright, attentive, loving.
For years after I got up in the morning she would hop on to my bed and curl up on my still warm, vacant spot.
And so, all the usual canine-human interactions; she has never been one for catching balls, and, given half the chance she will run-off into a field for hours chasing after what isn’t there.
A side to her personality has been her ‘reactivity’ – this is what I was told by Neil Losada, former South Yorkshire Police dog handler and expert in the ways of hound behaviour.
For Neil’s website – go here.
After attending his dog classes for many months, we agreed that this element of Maisie, where her hackles go-up and she bounds about when seeing another dog is not something remediable to training. Sure, she can sit, lie down, shake hands and all that, but developing a demeanour of ambivalence when faced with another (especially brown) dog is not feasible.
And, so it was.
Now, you are wondering; ‘He started talking about stress then moved-on to his dog; what gives?’
Well, it was the change in me, of which I was unaware, rather, the change in Maisie that represented such a shift.
As I said, I have been quite stressed; it all came to a head a few weeks ago when I decided to do something. I won’t go into the details, but a key component has been getting fit which includes upping my dog-walking distance and frequency.
Maisie has never had it as good.
She previously seemed happy, yet, what had altered in particular was first the bed-jumping to fill my vacant spot and also her general ease. The ‘reactivity’ had slackened.
Now, I might walk past, and she will remain crashed-out in the sun; the old Maisie would have been up and at me the minute she heard or sensed movement; I used to not be able to get out of bed without her appearing at my side.
Initially I did what all good doctors will do – applied a clinical rationale; what is wrong with her? Is she getting old? Her hearing impaired? Something more sinister or insidious inside?
It was then that it was pointed out to me that alongside my chilling, Maisie had chilled.
Such is the connection between dog and owner that my improving wellbeing has been mirrored in her.
I haven’t measured her average resting heart rate; I’m sure it is lower.
She doesn’t have wax in her ears or cancer, she is just, relaxed, and that in part is due to me finding a component of myself that has been missing for years.
So, hello. I am back.
No idea where Maisie is.