Psycho Doggy Mama / by Dana Bergstrom

Recently, I came across the list that I'd left for one of our dog sitters.

Actually, I lie.

It wasn't a list.

It was an insanely gigantic tome detailing every single one of my dog Oslo's potential needs, preferences, and existential thoughts. It also included a few photos of him...AS IF THE DOG SITTER WAS GOING TO FORGET WHAT HE LOOKED LIKE!

I am not sh*tting you.

This huge document was sooooo difficult to read, that I scrunched up my face and tossed it across the room like I'd accidentally picked up some stinky dog poo.

Ewwww, this is horrible!

The entire note was written with a whole lotta fear. I was certain they would not know how to take good care of my pet, so I spelled it all out for 'em.

"Holy crap." I thought. "I madly doted on that dog all day, every day the entire 12 years he was with us."

But at the time I figured that since Oslo couldn't speak for himself, I had to be highly attuned to what he wanted. And boy oh boy, was I ultra, hyper attuned.

He'd walk up to me, get an inch away from my nose with impossible-to-ignore dog breath, and stare me down with his gorgeous, intense eyes.

That's when I'd go into the high pitched, doggy/baby talk, multiple choice voice.

Do you wanna go out? Do you wanna go for a walk? Do you wanna eat? Is your water dish empty? Do you not feel well? Do you need a treat? What can I do for you oh perfect dog of mine? What can I do? 

I'd know exactly what thing or activity he wanted by his eager response to one of my questions. But as he got sick in his old age, I couldn't always figure out what he was trying to communicate.

I'd listen to his breathing at night. He'd get up from his little mattress next to mine and wander around. Then he'd come over to me, put his chin on the bed and peer fiercely into my soul. That's when we'd go through all of the usual questions. But none of the options would draw an obvious response.

It was only a few days after we took him to the vet and discovered he had a highly aggressive lymphoma, that Oslo finally clearly communicated that he was done dog diggity for this world.

He'd had a full life and now he was ready to go.

After Oslo died and wasn't following me around everywhere, and my energy was no longer spent taking him on two to three walks a day, or making sure he got in and out multiple times and had plenty of water, food and lots of cuddles, I had an epiphany.

"Oh my god, Pauly! I have tons of energy now! My focus was almost always on Oslo. I cannot believe how much energy I have!"

"I told you that you were a psycho doggy mama."

"I guess I was."

That's one way of looking at it.

I do heartily admit that I was totally OCD about Oslo and it all came from the fear that I was going to hurt him by not meeting his needs.

Pauly has a Jin Shin Jyutsu client who sometimes brings her adorable dog along to her sessions at our house.

When I got home one night, I noticed the dog toys were out and it made me so happy that a dog had been in our living room while I was gone.

But then I immediately started worrying about the dog.

"Oh no! The house was warm because of the wood burning stove and the dog has lots of fur and I hope they made sure the dog was cool enough. Oh dear! I don't see a water dish out for the dog. Did they forget to give the dog water? I better think of that before this client comes back!"

Then I noticed how my muscles had suddenly become tense and my breathing was less relaxed. My energy had instantly gone out of whack simply by thinking fearful thoughts about the dog.

The idea that I'd somehow harm the client's dog by not automatically providing a water bowl, indicated a total lack of trust in life - as if I'm the only one in a hundred mile radius who can keep all dogs safe and happy and secure! As if she wouldn't just ask for water for her dog. Of course she would.

I'd moved right back into psycho doggy mama mode just like that!

Worry worry worry.

And because that had been my constant state for years, I'd never noticed it until Oslo left.

But now I can see clearly when my energy shifts around any kind of care taking activity that I'm not trusting that all can be well without a focus on fear. I'm happy that I have this awareness before we even think about getting another fur baby.

So...Happy Mother's Day to all of you psycho and non-psycho mamas out there.

And may you notice your well-meaning, but not-so-fun fear states with ease, so that you can love and enjoy your two-legged and four-legged babies even more!