Peeling back layers of emotion when your trailhound doesn’t come back

Photo courtesy of ruralshots
Photo courtesy of ruralshots

Its been a while since I have written.  Some would say I've just been lazing about, my own inner critic in particular 😉 But I haven't, I've been doing a lot of work and now I am catching up with my writing about it.

I wrote some months ago about the experience of losing Logan on a walk and what thoughts and feelings it brought up for me.  On that occasion, I had remained positive during the walk, guarding my thoughts from getting into a downward spiral of anxiety about what might happen.  Some might say I was creating my own reality.  Logan re-joined me before I got home.

Shortly after that eventful walk with Logan I started to walk all three dogs again, Jack on long-line and the other two off-lead, trying to remember to be present, aware of my emotions and observe the dogs behavior.  Its not that easy!

I was feeling quite pleased with my progress, walking on the hill at the back of the house.  On this occassion when we got to the highest point of the walk Logan and Archie started to tear away from me, getting higher and higher up the hill.  Panic started to rise in me.  I called them to me.  Archie (the lab) came tumbling back towards me but Logan pressed on up the hill.  I yelled at Logan again.  100 yards away from me, he stopped, looked at me and then carried on into the forest.

This time my reaction was different, I panicked, and anger came up. Not the positive demeanour I had boasted about the last time Logan went.

"Fine", I thought, "leave me, go your own route, get into trouble, get shot, I give up, it will save me a great deal of effort".

Embarrassing to admit how personal I took the behavior of a trail-hound following his instinctual nature …..but I share with a wider audience in the interests of discovery.  I was angry and underneath were feelings of being hurt and unloved, so Logan was getting the brunt of it.  If, as I believe, dogs pick up on your emotions, it is no wonder that he didn't come back for several hours 🙂

So, onto the next walk.  Same walk, up behind the house.  Same problem, around about the same part of the walk, Logan disappears into the forest.  What is it they say?  A sign of madness is doing the same thing, the same way and expecting different results?  Something like that.  This time Archie went after him, in hot pursuit.  I stopped myself from calling him back.  I had learnt from experience that Archie goes after Logan to bring him back.  If he can catch up with him and get his attention, which he does by nipping at his neck and jostling him, he usually manages to return him to the walk. He doesn't always manage it, he's a fast Labrador but Logan is a trail hound.   On these occasions, my interpretation is that Logan gets lost in himself, looking for something to ground him and Archie's physical contact achieves this, bringing his focus back in. I'm not sure what drives Archie to play his part.  Maybe its my attention on Logan?  After some minutes, that seemed like eternity waiting for two missing dogs to come back, Archie returned with Logan,  living up to his breeding as a retriever.

I could see that Logan still had this glazed 'away with the fairies' look about him so I decided not to take any chances and put him on the other end of Jack's long-line, continuing back down the hill.  It was getting dark, I was nearing home, the downward slope was stony and icy and it was getting difficult to negotiate with two dogs on the lead and stay upright.  Not wanting to become a casualty on the hillside myself, I decided that I was close enough to home to let Logan off again.  Well, we can all learn from our mistakes ;-).  Logan was still 'away with the fairies' and within minutes he had disappeared again.

Where was I?  What was happening to me emotionally?  Well, I'm embarassed to admit that I dropped to my knees on the side of that hill overlooking the village, and sobbed like a 5 year-old.  'I'm doing the best that I can and I don't know what to do.  You're ruining my life' I bawled. The feelings that came over me were as if I were a child again, the oldest sibling of 3 trying to take responsibility for her younger brother and sister and not having the skills to do it, breaking down at the frustration and sense of failure - not being good enough. Phew, the things you hold on to and can discover if you pay attention to what is going on for you !

The three walks mentioned happened in the space of about a week.  The emotions that came up for me were different each time, like layers of emotion.  The first time, when I had preceded the walk with meditation, I only had two dogs.  I had concentrated on positive thinking and feeling when Logan disappeared and Logan had returned.  Had I manifested that?  The second time, I had not meditated, I had three dogs and I was on a more demanding walk.  I could define that scenario as being 'more challenging', being more at the edge of my 'emotional capacity'.  Positive thinking had no place and and anger was what came up.  I see my anger with Logan as a manifestation of my fear, projected outwards, onto him.  The third time, I believe what I felt was the true feeling that was underlying the previous instances, and that presented an opportunity for the real release to take place.  Third time lucky?

I find the comparison of the different scenarios very interesting.  It was if I was being given repeat scenarios, allowing me to release stuck energy (emotion), layers of emotion, rather like layers of an onion, to get to the core pain, rooted in my childhood.  I am also left wondering about how you can use positive thinking to create your reality.  Is there a necessity to release these layers of emotion, or  stuck injuries from the past, before you can use positive thinking to create your future?  Just thoughts.  What do you think?

So after all that, this exciting release, this discovery of self, what happened then?  My confidence completely left me and I stopped walking the dogs.

More to follow…….;-)

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5 Responses

  1. suelacey
    | Reply

    Gosh I cannot tell you how this resonated with me. I feel that Bailey my trailhound was definitely given to me to teach me patience. It was SO easy to take it as a personal slant & slip into anger or annoyance, but it would be like expecting a friend who was afraid of heights to happily take a jaunt up the Eiffle Tower and then being cheesed off when they refused!! Trailhounds have that drive that is purely their instinct…it’s not personal, so I,as a dog owner, learnt that there were great places to walk & much harder places to walk – woods being one of them especially when wet or damp. Being ‘present’ takes practise & she’s taught me to do that over and over again. It is so lovely to read your thoughts. Thank you for them. I think from the way you write you would love a book by Eckhart Tolle called Guardians of Being. It is so wonderful x

    • Joanne
      | Reply

      Thankyou Sue for your comments – what a clear picture you give comparing it to a friend with heights! I am definitely of the opinion that its me thats causing him to run off – probably that’s what all trailhound owners (and owners of other hounds) know! I’ve read some of Eckhart Tolle’s books, but not that one – thankyou 🙂

  2. Melissa Victoria
    | Reply

    I laughed with empathy reading this. My dog does the same thing, has the same “glazed ‘away with the fairies’ look” you described. And it’s in the body language too, more upright, not quite relaxed. I’ve had those same moments where we are off leash and next thing I know she’s too far and I start to panic. I’ll self-talk to calm down my nerves but I’m convinced she’s going to leave and be gone forever, off chasing the squirrels to her own demise. Then I envision a bad storm with my dog terrified in the woods and alone all because she couldn’t stay close to me. It’s a rollercoaster of blaming her and then taking full blame myself. What happened to our reliable recall? Doesn’t she love me enough to want to be around me? Doesn’t she know that I’m her safe home-base and that the big bad world will get her? I’ve broken down crying as well, wiping tears from my eyes as I stoically carry her 50lbs out of the park for being too out of control to manage. I feel unloved by her but it’s really about all my experiences being a middle child and from previous relationships. I set up these expectations that she will be by my side by choice because I’m awesome and she knows I love her to bits but she’s a dog, in the end she’s a pure dog (mostly hound). I’m still searching for the answers! It’s a relief to know I’m not alone in my experiences and my reactions.

    • Joanne Frame
      | Reply

      Lovely account Melissa – I appreciate you sharing also 🙂 I think the dogs are here to help us in our search!

  3. clairejack
    | Reply

    Great post, Joanne. Lovely to hear how you’re thinking about what giving yourself time and space means and very open as usual.

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