Barbara's blog: Be More Dog

clock Released On 15th May 2022

Barbara's blog: Be More Dog

A few weeks ago, a friend bought me a book to help me navigate the challenge that having a three-legged dog has brought to our family. And rather than just provide practical advice to support the dog, as it learns to manage his new mobility, the book also attempts to educate the owner on how to embrace having a tripaw (or tripawd in the US). Dogs are particularly good at reading body language, deciphering facial expressions and tuning into the complexities of our feelings, and to avoid inadvertently transferring human emotive responses onto our canine friend, the advice from the book was to be more dog.

It took me a while to understand how I could be more dog with Boomer. After the initial sniggering over sniffing each other’s bottoms and peeing in the garden, I was struggling to dial down the sympathy, even though Boomer was healing well. The sound of Boomer colliding with the car that hit him and his yelp at the impact kept rattling around my head, haunting me. And in trying to assuage my guilt for letting the accident happen under my watch I was overcompensating by fussing over him. I was pitying his condition, a very human trait.

The kids, on the other hand, have taken to being more dog like ducks to water. They were both remarkably calm during the critical days of post-op recovery and have now resolutely accepted Boomer’s new tripaw status, conscious that the outcome could have been a lot worse: better a three-legged dog than no dog at all.

Inspired by the kids’ matter-of-fact approach – and trying to steer clear from coming over all existential! – I wondered whether being more dog was actually a good piece of advice for life in general. I have talked before how perfectionism has become one of the maladies of our century. We are so busy instagramming the banality of expectations, consuming ourselves with anxiety over the tiniest detail or obsessing over past performance that we lose sight of the basics. Is good enough good enough? Experience has probably taught us it is, we are just ignoring the evidence.

Can being more dog help put us on the road to recovery from perfectionism? Obviously, it is more complex than that but here’s three examples of how I have been more dog in the past few weeks.

As Boomer is still recovering, I have replaced the dog walks with running. I am not fast and probably don’t have good form, but I don’t care, accepting movement and time in nature are the benefits.

I am trying to leave the past in the past: I recently chose not to apply for a role that would have been a promotion for reasons that are still valid. That ship has now sailed, and I am not sweating it.   

I am trying to enjoy the moment: listening to Daughter describe the everfluctuating dynamics of her friendship group; enjoying the warmth of the sun on my skin; sitting in silence, letting my thoughts float up to the surface… …  

Boomer recently started stealing socks from the washing basket again, a clear sign that our beautiful boy is on the mend.

Barbara works for the aviation regulator and lives a stone’s throw from the South Downs with her 16 year old creative daughter, nearly 15 year old ingenious son and supportive husband.

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