Dogs do it…

I’m very nervous this week. I’m going on a trip to spend time getting to know someone I don’t know well but like so far and while I’ve got a week and a day or two to go before I actually see him, so about a week before I should really be nervous, I am already working myself up into a nauseous ball of anxiety jusssssst about every morning.

And then a good 6-11 times throughout the day after that.

My parents (who I’m living with temporarily) have this rescue dog that was abused as a puppy and then turned out on the street. He was wild and absolutely TERRIFIED of people. As it turns out, that’s a horrible combo and he drove them nearly insane for the first year and a half or so of owning him.

He’s still difficult.

But he doesn’t cower when we pass strangers on the street anymore.

My mom doesn’t like walking him because he pulls, but I love running him around the block. He likes to stretch his legs and I like feeling safe in going outside with him by my side. We make a good team.

He wags his tail now. He never used to.

He’s also more receptive to my anxiety than any other animal I’ve every met.

Even when I’m outwardly perfectly fine. Even before the heart starts racing, and things start to feel off-kilter, he will come running and just delicately, like he’s afraid to touch me or doesn’t want to scare me off, leans in and sniffs my skin: in the bend of my arm, my wrist, behind my ears, along my hairline.

Then he’ll gently lick my face.

This is the only time this dog is slow or gentle about anything. He’s usually just a careening ball of energy.

Today I was starting to feel the nerves and he did this. When he licked my face I burst into tears (which he then licked up too).

He let me hug his neck for a bit (again, it’s rare to get him to hold still for a second, we can’t keep ANY weight on him at all).

He wagged his tail.

Without thinking I said, “How do you do it?”

And he looked at me because he doesn’t speak Human, and then ran to get his tennis ball.

I don’t understand. He had such a hard life before he came to live with us. His skull was fractured and he had stitches and scars when they adopted him.

Yet he wags his tail and loves on me and trusts me not to hurt him. I can’t do that.

I can’t do that.

I WANT that kind of starry-eyed cheer. I want to be able to look forward to spending time with someone great without automatically wondering how I’ll mess things up, or if they’ll hurt me.  Worrying I might be wasting time or doing something wrong.

My mom likes to watch The Dog Whisperer and after a bit, I remembered a segment of him saying that “dogs live in the now.”

That explains how Crazy (who I call Froedrick, or Frisky, or Friendly, or Dog-Dog because I find the name just a touch sad and offensive) lives the way he does.

I guess by that logic, he’s not living in the days his skull was fractured. He’s not worried about being on the street and finding food for himself. He’s not thinking about the man that hurt him whenever I pet his ears.

He’s thinking about the tennis ball in the yard waiting for him, how nice the sunshine feels at nap time on the porch, what I smell like and how it sounds when I say nice things to him.

I guess if I want to be like him, I need to stop dwelling on what could happen and what did happen and think about what is happening.

Which is really NOT going to help me when I get on a plane next week, but for the time being I guess I can think of the now instead of hyperventilating about “the next Friday.”

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