Emotional Rescue – Doggie Style

Apr 11, 2018

I sat, bolt upright, in the middle of the night, cold sweat on my skin and searching my mind for a big, fat ‘why?’….. Why was I suddenly suffering from middle-of-the-night anxiety?   My brain wrestled to catch up with, and make sense of, my fear. Holy shit, I had a rescue dog on her way from Spain……. in two weeks my life was about to change beyond recognition! After 8 years of being footloose and canine-free, I was about to become a Dawg-Mummy again.   With that came a whole lot of responsibility I wasn’t used to.

“Supposing I can’t look after her?” “Will I be have enough time for her when work goes crazy?” “I’m so used to my independence, how am I going to cope?”   “What if people don’t like her?“

And other sleep disruptors flew through my mind.

Bolt upright, and now wide awake, I realised I would apply the ethos I apply to everything I truly want in my life.   “I will do whatever it takes to make it work. And that’s the end of it.”   I knew it was true, once I set a clear promise to myself, having taken away any negative option, my fear subsided and the excitement began!

As expected my life changed on the 18th December 2015, beyond recognition! Lily was a confused and scared little girl whose only experience of kindness was very recently with her fosterers.   The trauma of her previous life, with a goat herder in the Spanish Countryside, just outside Malaga, was burned deeply into her neurology.

Her enlarged teats and loose ‘mummy tummy’ were tell tell signs of the puppies she’d carried. The minute I met her, her terror, was unmistakable.   She’d been unloved, unwanted and very badly abused.

For the next few weeks she peed herself with fear whenever a human looked at her, she was used to any attention resulting in pain.   She had the air of a beaten and damaged beautiful soul.   We bonded immediately, she trusted me implicitly.   She set about learning English, we soon found out we were the perfect duo and she’s a very smart cookie.

She was way too timid to walk outside of the house to begin with but after a week of 24/7 reassurance and affection, we went for our first walk. It was a Christmas Day I’ll never forget, seeing her baby steps of progress brought so much joy.   She was still terrified of her own shadow. It was impossible to walk her along the street but over the coming days we built up her confidence with walks in the park, staying on the leash. As much as she loved the idea of going out, once we were the other side of the front door she was a gibbering wreck. It was heartbreaking but she was taking progressing, slowly.

My patience and consistency surprised me. I knew, like any abused soul, she needed to feel understood, safe and valued. I actually liked myself more for taking such great care of this innocent soul. I hadn’t expected Lily to add to my self love…. Yet another bone-us!

Little did I know that Lily-Joy as she was renamed, would actually save me!   At 55 I was starting to slow down and my exercise routine was the first thing to be knocked out of my diary. Since her arrival there are very few days I haven’t walked c8,000 steps (4 miles) – starting our day in Richmond Park, in awe of Mother Nature, even in the depths of winter!

Having lived on my own for a while I had become more rigid than I’d realised. ‘Everything in it’s place and tidy’ is easy when we live alone.   But when those four little grubby paws bounce onto my favourite White Company bed linen I only feel joy at her happiness and passion for life. Little did I think I would lovingly smile when I pull back a designer velvet cushion, only to find canine contraband such as half an avocado, mouldy croissants and a chicken skin … my clever girl is stashing our resources in case of an emergency!

This dog Mama has learned to lean in, relax, let go and enjoy.

It’s hard to gauge a dogs age but the vet guesstimates Lily is around 5 now. I can’t bear to think of the three years before she rescued me! She’s still often on her guard, nervous of men and more than a little skittish. A legacy of the trauma and cruelty dished out by an inhuman human, who’s neck I would happily wring, should they have the misfortune to cross my path.

As humans, a feeling of disconnectedness with other humans underpins much of our increasing sense of feeling ‘out of balance.’   I’m reminded on a daily basis of the healing results from a secure sanctuary, unconditional love and much understanding. Lily has helped me become a better coach, a more patient Mother and a more accepting human being. I might have rescued her from a terrible life but this shaggy little girl certainly paid me back in more ways than I could have envisaged.

Taking on a deeply hurt rescue dog isn’t the easiest route but it is highly rewarding. Witnessing daily growth in confidence and personality, along with the ability to love, attach and trust again.

Lily’s first tail wag, playful antics with another dog in the park, dipped her paws in the river….. all inspiring leaps of progress to this proud mama.