Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fung Shui, A Vedic Mantra, and A Healing Touch Specialist

What's gotten better:
  • I've been walking both dogs more and for longer periods.
  • I've lost a little weight.
  • I'm eating better.
  • I'm kayaking around once a week.
  • The dogs are staying off the furniture even when boxes or tin foil are absent. (Which is good not because I give a flip about them being on the furniture but because it means they're obeying one of my otherwise meaningless hierarchical rules.)
  • I'm mostly maintaining the other house rules, such as feeding them twice a day and making them sit before passing through doors.
  • Petunia seems to really love her agility lessons.
  • I've enrolled Buddy in agility and CGC training also and those classes begin soon and will be good one-on-one time for us.
  • I'm becoming somewhat accustomed to walking every day with the dogs and am somewhat less bored by it.
  • I've gotten a little smarter about rotating the dogs around the house in a way that reduces Petunia's opportunities to growling at Buddy for crossing her perceived space.

What's gotten worse:
  • As should be evident from the last item above, Petunia is still growling and mean-barking at Buddy, despite the "improvements" in our household hierarchy.
  • In fact, she's gotten worse in the last week or so. Last month the two dogs would sit across the gate from one another without either one growling; sometimes an entire day would pass without a growl or bark across the gate. (It's always Petunia growling or barking, never yet Buddy.) Now Petunia growls more often then not, every time Buddy: (1) walks past the gate, regardless of whether I'm on the same side of the gate as her and, if memory serves, also regardless of which side of the gate she's on (though mostly when she is on the living room/front door side and he is on the dining room/back of the house side; (2) enters the bedroom at night. Mostly she growls when she is in her crate in the master bathroom and he is entering the bedroom. Buddy now cowers every time I ask him to enter the bedroom, as if Petunia might be in there or growl at him. So our current routine is that I have him enter the bedroom first at night, then have her go to her crate. When I crate them before work there seems to be less of an issue about entering the bedroom, though he still hesitates before entering the room. (Should I put one of their crates outside the bedroom? This is the returning question. The trainer said yes. But I worry that would give one dog perceived ownership of the bedroom (if this is about territory, after all, and if my attempts at being THE owner of the territory are still ineffectual, wouldn't I exacerbate the problem?).
  • The house--especially the dining room--has gotten much more messy, partly because I'm trying to *finally* (as in at last and forever more) sift through all my old divorce and pre-divorce paperwork and receipts to give my tax-preparer, and the kitchen because I've been working long hours and neglecting it. Though I should say my master bathroom has gotten cleaner because moving Petunia in there inspired me to tidy it and now I've kept it tidy for over a week.
  • I'm feeling deep despair. Inside I'm feeling panicky that this dog scenario won't get resolved and that it's all my fault because I'm such a fragmented, brittle mess.
  • Buddy is pulling on the leash again when we walk, even though I'm doing the same dog-whispererish stuff that I began over a month ago and to which he seemed to respond really well.

So where are we?

I'm trying three new things this week:

Feng Shui
Since not filing my 2007 taxes is not an option, I'm seriously focusing on getting through the majority of my paper clutter this week. For good. Financial strain has been a major source of stress for me and clearly part of why I'm feeling brittle (in addition to the dread of encountering marriage related stuff among the papers and clutter). The Wall Street debacle has me terrified of losing my house--remember, I'm on a second mortgage right now. So that would explain part of my increased anxiety that perhaps is fueling the dogs' behavior. I'm out of control financially, or nearly so. I've been spending far more than I earn in an attempt to fix and fix-up the house, and in my prodigal pursuit of dog-behavior solutions, to the point where I've never returned to my plan of establishing a budget or even figuring out what I routinely spend every month, much less strategizing for savings or even further debt avoidance. All this is a serious dilemma. And part of the solution, possibly the main part of the solution, is getting organized at last. Taking ownership of my paperwork, mercilessly tossing and shredding some of it, and getting to a place where I can see what I've got and where it's going. Doing so would clear my dining room and make me feel less like a total failure. I'm calling this feng shui partly also because I believe a core of financial organization would seed organization and tidiness elsewhere in my house and life. The consistently tidy master bath is a huge accomplishment for me. I feel peaceful entering that space and nowhere else in the house. That says something. And I think the dogs feel it too.

A Vedic Mantra
I had lunch with an old student this afternoon, a Buddhist and philosopher whose mindfulness I have always respected. I asked him to recommend a mantra to help me feel more grounded. I'm going to use it as my next effort at meditation.

A Healing Touch Specialist
My therapist recommended this woman to me months ago, perhaps even a year ago, to help me deal with some body/vulnerability issues related to my childhood and stepfather. I finally called her for help with my sense of fragmentation and inner weakness, my inability to feel that core of strength that I'm supposed to be tapping as a "calm-assertive leader." Whenever I try to Be that person I always know I'm faking it. Cesar Millan says "be Oprah . . . be Cleopatra . . ." I've decided who I want to channel is Bette Midler. Ha! No, seriously.

I told the healing touch person this over the phone and also mentioned the problem with the dogs. She asked me the names and breeds of the dogs. Not in that sing-songy dog person way, but in a trained-professional-who-could-be-asking-me-about-my-family-history-of-diabetes kinda way. She said she sometimes works with dogs and that she might ask me to bring one or both of them to a future consultation.

Yes, I know how wacky this all sounds. I don't care. And frankly if I'm going to continue on this quirky journey why not follow every path. And I must say that the moment she took an interest in my dogs I felt I was cosmically meant to work with this person.

So there you go. My appointment is this Friday.


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