Emotions. Why do we even have them? What’s the point? They just create unstable, unbalanced feelings that we act on, and then make decisions based on what we are feeling in that moment. Had a good day? Great, reward yourself with a high calorie, sweet treat from the ice cream store. Because that just makes things even better. Feeling depressed? To the bottle, yay! Feeling frustrated? Start a fight in a bar! Overwhelmed? Just throw your arms up and give up on life. Feeling sad? Mope and watch sappy, stupid movies while eating chocolate and drinking wine.. Alone.
Alright, maybe not everyone does those exact things, but I’m just saying we act on them. So, because when I’m overwhelmed, and possibly turning my entire life around AGAIN (yeah, I know. Sounds like me, right?), I take on a foster dog. I really like this kid, and if he fits in well in a month or so, he may just join my pack. I don’t know yet though. So far, he’s shown quite a bit of improvement in just a couple days. I’m on a roller coaster, and I can’t get off. So many things, so many situations, so many decisions. I can handle it, I can’t handle it. I’ll be ok, I’m going to puke. I think I’m almost off, then we start to go up again. And I wait for the fall. When does this end?! Overwhelmed, frustrated.
I also just had a de ja vu experience with a great dane (yeah, another one. This has nothing to do with the breed, I promise) who reminded me a lot of Ryder’s situation. Her name is Haven. She is a beautiful black dane who is unpredictable around dogs, people, and sometimes food. When the owners were talking to me about her, I had a sinking feeling that reminded me of Ryder. It’s been almost a year since I put him to sleep. This new dog had similar traits that sent up red flags and made me take a step back. I observed, I did an evaluation on her, and still had a feeling about her. During the eval, she gave me absolutely no reason to feel like I couldn’t handle her. She was responsive, sensitive, and showed zero aggression towards me or the other dogs. I asked for advice from more experienced trainers, and I was told to let the past go, learn from it, and give her a shot. Try her out for a week. I still had a feeling about this, but it was only because of what the family was telling me. Feelings of … caution.
Anyway, I took her as a Boarding School client, and we started training. Two weeks (out of the four weeks she is supposed to be here) go by without an incident, and she is responding to training beautifully. One day, as I was letting the dogs out, our streak was broken. Over the course of two days, she went after four different dogs. The only warning I had was a feeling I had before letting her out of the kennel. No real warning signs that I could see. It isn’t like I haven’t handled ‘aggression’ before, but this is different. I wasn’t comfortable. And I was emotionally attached, and saw Ryder, not Haven. I called my trainer friend and explained the situation and said I couldn’t work with her – she was too much dog for me. I cannot begin to explain how guilty I felt. Thoughts of failure, guilt, sadness, loss, and how I had let down Ryder flooded me. I was again overwhelmed with a sense of complete failure. I couldn’t help this dog. I have been told time and time again I cannot save them all. It sucks when this happens, but it does happen. I know that, but it doesn’t suck any less, and I’m too fucking sensitive for my own good. So, feeling of heartbreak.
Last time, I chose to continue working with Ryder, even though he was quite a bit of dog for me then. This time, I asked the owners to pick her up, and referred to another trainer. I handled it the best I could for the situation. It’s messy, and I feel like again – I couldn’t help. What if I had been training for 40 years, or if I was the best? Feelings of doubt.
So, now I’m here. Thinking about all of it again. Overanalyzing. Learning. Advancing. Yes, I have high standards, and for some reason, I feel like emotions make us weak.
So, I’m choosing another emotion. Numb. Let’s try that one for a while.