“Difficult”

Years ago I worked with someone who was in graduate school to become a therapist. She was so nice to talk to, because she always understood what you were feeling and cared. She said things like, “Oh, poor dear, I see why you feel that way! That must be so hard.”

Which is why I’m always confused by my reaction when someone comments that Silas is a difficult dog. Don’t we want people to affirm our feelings? I mean, he is a difficult dog. I have a whole blog mostly devoted to how difficult he is. For goodness’ sake, I can’t even feed him without drama. He’s afraid of the park. Not the dog park–the people park. When it’s not crowded. Without fail, though, I always say to those sympathetic people, “Oh, no, he’s really great most of the time.”

I started drafting this post on Friday, which was the unpleasant icing on a fairly miserable week of cake. Difficult, shall we say. I had quite a rant typed in here, about all the terrible things he had done, almost knocking me down the stairs, being afraid of the park, herding my husband. In typical Silas fashion, though, he was an angel all weekend afterwards, taking all the sting out of my rant.

Which is why, I think, I always rush to his defense. He always gives me hope, and he always has hope himself. He is always willing to try again. Every time I open the car door, he happily jumps in, even when he is scared of almost every place we go. For all of the “I can’t do thats” there’s a corollary “but I can do this!” Sometimes it’s hard to find, and sometimes it’s a smaller step than you could imagine, but it’s there. The way forward is never easy, not with this dog, but there is always a way. Difficult, yes, but worthwhile.

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5 thoughts on ““Difficult”

  1. I liken it to the way mothers feel about their children. It is one thing to acknowledge your child’s flaws but totally a different thing for someone else to point them out. 🙂 Perhaps it is the way they go about it?

    I can see that Silas presents challenges is totally different than, Whoa, you’ve got your hands full with THAT one.

    I say this all the time, each dog is different as is each child. What works for one dog does necessarily work for another, the key is to keep trying new things. Something will work.

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    1. He’s a really nice little guy, as long as things are going his way. He just can’t handle the world. I have days when I get frustrated that he won’t do “regular” things, like go for walks, but he also doesn’t do “regular” things like chew up shoes. He doesn’t have a lot of the problems that really affect a person’s life in the bad way–separation anxiety, destructive behavior, etc.

      The thing that I really don’t like is that as he’s getting older he needs more exercise than just a few games of fetch in the house, but he’s too scared to go out. Lately, he’s even been too scared if I drive him to the park, thanks to some new landscaping that “improved” his view of the road. Needing more exercise has been causing his behavior to deteriorate some at home, which we’re really not used to. He’s always been great at home.

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  2. I would love to talk to you about this post over a cup of tea. It’s interesting on so many levels.

    I understand that Silas is fearful and I feel bad for what that means for him and for you. He’s making great progress as you two work together and I know you’ll get past many of his worst fears in time.

    But I also think as responsible dog people we spend a lot of time obsessing on our dogs’ behavior and what we need to make it better.

    I’m also difficult. I hurt people’s feelings without meaning to when I’m dealing with my own stuff. I get deeply depressed. I say “I love you” to my husband rarely even though I really do.

    But I’m a decent writer. I have a knack for knowing how far but not too far to push a dog whose learning something new. And I’ve taught hundreds of first time home buyers all about the process without once getting a negative evaluation.

    So difficult or not, it’s all part of making Pam Pam.

    Difficult isn’t a helpful word (although I suspect people are trying to share their sympathies with you when things aren’t going well). Silas is Silas. He’s neurotic and loveable (I could just kiss the screen when I see a picture of him) and charming.

    The end of your post sums it up so well.

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    1. :hugs:

      It’s really intriguing that you made the analogy to yourself, because I think we are (as I believe you’re getting at) naturally able to classify human foibles as “what makes us unique.” I could probably go to the Hallmark store right now and buy a greeting card saying that I love a person *because* of their flaws. Human neuroses are the entire premise of basically every show on TV. Turn Dr. House into a dog, and he’d be in the pound. As a human, he’s a runaway hit.

      I do wish Silas could live a little more “normal” doggie life, going for walks around the block and taking field trips to PetSmart. Like in people, though, his “bad” stuff is so wrapped up with the good that I wouldn’t eradicate it wholesale if I could. Which isn’t to say that I’m not going to keep training him and working through his issues. It’s just that the same stuff that makes the world really overwhelming for him also makes him hilarious to live with.

      I think I’ll start telling people that he isn’t “Difficult.” He’s “Interesting.”

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