Broken Spirit: Leaving the Past Behind

I’ve got to start another circle and leave the past behind — Larry Norman

[This is part of an ongoing series of what a rescued dog has taught me about life. Read entire series here.]

Leaving the Past Behind

Versa’s past is somewhat uneventful — which is her problem. She was brought to the pound as a pup with her sister (who I always presumed was named Vice — the first half of Vice Versa), but a strange thing happens to puppies inside kennels and rescues — they never learn how to be a pup. There is no fighting, tumbling, or chasing after their brothers and sisters– just a pen, food and daily exercise. It’s not the fault of the organization — but it’s a harsh reality — pups like Versa struggle with fear.

Fear aggression is most recognizable by a dog’s need to bark at anything new — situations, people — and the tendency to cower. When Versa first came home, she would quiver and bark whenever strangers came into our house. Even today, nearly nine months later, she barks at visitors until I can calm her down.

Although, fear aggresion cannot necessarily be cured — several things help — and they boiled down to the same idea — making Versa feel secure. Security lessens the pull of her past.

Slow and Steady

With Versa, I’m using the tried and tested approach of slow and steady. I take her to a local kennel every three or four weeks so she can interact with other dogs. I walk her a lot without a lease. She is learning she can run off and come back and everything is fine. When family and friends visit they feed her treats and she learns strangers don’t have to frighten her.

It’s working. Her demeanor is slowly changing. In recent weeks, she has approached family members, without being coaxed, and let them pet her.

Past Limitations

We all have a past — my past included being bullied at school and in some ways just like Versa, limited socialization. But at some point, the past is just that — the past and you cannot allow it to dictate the present. You move forward, slow and steady, and find a way to come to terms with the pain and the mistakes.

And, eventually you learn, that starting another circle is just the cycle of life.

Late 70s/early 80s Christian blues album by Larry Norman.

Late 70s/early 80s Christian blues album by Larry Norman.

Something New Under the Son

Larry Norman was extremely influential in the creation of what is today known as CCM. He released his first Christian-themed album in the budding (non-existent) Jesus Rock genre in the late 60s. His four strongest albums are Only Visiting This Planet, So Long Ago the Garden, Upon This Rock and Something New Under the Son.

Categories: Middle age, Pets, Versa

Broken Spirit: What A Rescued Dog Taught Me About Life

versa-headshot[Technically, Versa is my daughter’s dog. We went to the local dog pound and my daughter picked out the 40-pound, black and white mix-breed, nine-month-old female pup. Within a month, though, the pup was mine. It wasn’t my daughter’s fault. The dog just gravitated toward me — and then Versa started to grow on me. But Versa has a problem, as a pound pup survivor she has fear aggression — which means she is fearful of everything. Slowly, she is conquering the condition. These posts are the lessons Versa has taught me along the way.]

Lesson: Everyone Thrives In The Correct Environment

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
Albert Einstein

Versa and I have a daily ritual. I sit on a stool in my living room, start putting on my socks with my shoes beside me on the floor. Versa knows what this means: she is going for a walk. Her tails starts to wags, she prances over to our front door then back to me to check my progress. She nudges me with her nose as if to say hurry up — let’s go.

Lessons I learned from a rescued dog

Versa enjoying the Great Outdoors…

We are heading to the woods. Although, I don’t know with certainty, Versa seems to be a hunting dog because she sniffs wildly when we walk the trails, peers into the underbrush — and crouches down to sneak up on squirrels and gophers. She jumps, hops, runs (really, really fast), heads to the creek for a drink, then back on the trail to explore some more. It short, she acts like a pup.

It is a 180 degree turn from her early days with us — and a few of the days she still has inside our home. In a home with a highly active social teen, Versa deals with an onslaught of girls coming in and out of the house, not to mention normal everyday stimuli that startle her: delivery men, mail men and the occassional knock on the front door. Any of those events can send her into a downward spiral of fear — cowering with raised hackles and barking.

Just like Versa, people, including myself, respond to every environment they encounter by either embracing the situation creatively or rejecting it from fear.

There is probably no better proof of this than how we generate income. A recent study shows that nearly 20 percent of Americans are actively disengaged at work while more than half of the workers surveyed show up, but aren’t particularly thrilled to be there. These are people whose daily ritual is trudging to a place they hate or at the very least greatly dislike.

Which makes it really hard to run and enjoy the view.

Tools for uncovering your best environment [Offsite Links]:

>> For an inspirational site filled with the stories of people who have found their environment (and other stories too), check out the Good News Network.

Categories: Dogs, Middle age, Pets, Versa | Tags: ,