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A Lot

A Lot

A Lot

Mabel’s a lot of dog with a lot of energy. But I’m a lot, too, and can quickly fill a room or take over a conversation if I’m not practicing self-awareness. So, even though Mabel sounds like a herd of buffalo when she runs, my sweet girl also has a sensitive side.

As I suspected, taking a break from home-alone training has boded well for us. Mabel’s been going into her room on her own. When I drop her off at Sasha’s, she’s back to her silly, happy self, and my ungraceful girl walks upstairs to nap when I’m doing yoga rather than bulldozing me with bully stick breath.

For those of us training our dogs, trying to give them what they need can be a lot for them and us. So, I was ecstatic, after four not-great-fits-for-us SniffSpots, that I was able to let Mabel play in my nephew and ex-sister-in-law’s backyard. As Mabel chased her toys, raced the neighbors’ dogs along the fence, and we three humans caught up, I suggested that when it’s cold, we start introducing Mabel and Echo (their dog-friendly cat) as Mabel peacefully lived with three cats in her foster home. 

My nephew Isaac said, “Yeah, yeah,” as I reiterated that we’d discuss the plan beforehand, take the process super slow, and that my only goal was to keep everyone safe. We talked about the introduction every time I was at their house, and when Isaac stopped coming outside, I hoped it was just the cold weather deterring my incredibly kind, sensitive soul nephew.

But I asked my brother if everything was okay, and he said, “Well, Isaac didn’t want to tell you, but he’s uncomfortable with Mabel meeting Echo.” My heart sank. I spent years watching people’s mannerisms and responses as much as I observed their dogs’ behavior. How did I miss that I was continually suggesting something so aversive to someone I love that they avoided me?

I have no honest answer here other than for those of us who are a lot when our too-muchness is brought to our attention, may we atone. May we pay closer attention to the people we love, especially when excited about our seemingly brilliant idea, and even more so to the soft-hearted people who love us. And may we slow down when we think, “Wow, that was a lot.” Mabel settles in better on the days I’m better at honoring my need for rest.

I found a new SniffSpot for Mabel to run without me wincing every time she zooms past one of the many sharp brick corners on my patio as we wait for a fence repair at Steph and Isaac’s house (I hope). I was skeptical about trying another place described as quiet and secure but next to train tracks and a broken latch. However, this small yard was a few minutes’ drive from my apartment and super cheap. So, if it was too much for Mabel, we could be home playing living room tug within ten minutes. 

It turns out to be a safe and great fit. Mabel gets her Zoomie time, so she’ll be more than ready when we continue goal-oriented training. And if Mabel tells me it’s too much, I hope I’m learning to listen more and more every day to the beings I love and what they need. 
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