Help Me Be The Person My Dog Thinks I Am!

 “A man can fail many times,
but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.”

John Burroughs

There is a great quote that says, “Lord, help me be the person my dog thinks I am!” Every dog lover knows how powerful and true this quote is. Late in 2012 our beloved dog, Buddy, passed away.  His sudden and unexpected death left us (not to mention our other canine family member) with gaping holes in our hearts.

For dog lovers it will come as no surprise to hear that four months ago we decided to adopt a puppy from the Humane Society. This puppy had been in the Humane Society since shortly after his birth. Four months is a long time to spend in a small cage if you ask me so we took this adorable and cute little being home with us!  

We soon found out that not only was this puppy wiggly, playful, and cute but extremely mischievous as well. He needed a lot of time and compassion and our older dog, Snowball, joined in to help. Snowball became a surrogate mother to the latest member of our family, Sampson.

While we were delighted with how intelligent, curious and loving Sampson was, we also became acutely aware of how much training he needed. We crated him when appropriate, trained him on the leash, taught him how to sit, etc. We couldn’t leave the dogs alone in the kitchen without supervision or he would chew everything, including Snowball.  Sampson got into everything he could find and being a puppy that was ok until one day he got into a closed cabinet when no one was home.

This particular cabinet housed many of my vials, supplements, glasses and such. We had gone out to a movie and thought we would see what happens if we left them in the kitchen with everything put away; ha ha ha (the joke was on us)! We came home to a kitchen floor littered with broken glass, spilled vials, destroyed supplement bottles and glass pieces everywhere. You can imagine the picture. I was speechless. My husband quietly took over and I carefully took the dogs outside in the front with me while he cleaned up the kitchen. To say I was angry is an understatement.

I didn’t look at or speak to Sampson again for over a day.  But slowly (the way puppies do) he got into my heart again, little by little, until the whole episode was cleared up in my being. I had never had a dog that opened a closed cabinet and destroyed all my personal tinctures, vials, etc. That was a personal violation.  And yet, in only a little over a day, I had forgiven him.

If my husband had gotten into my personal things and destroyed them, would I have so easily forgiven him? If I had inadvertently thrown out something important or broken something treasured, would I have so easily forgiven myself? I sincerely doubt it. What is it about our pets and young children that allow us to so easily forgive them? And, better yet, why can’t we do that with ourselves or our partners, our co-workers or our parents?

I think we give our little ones – the innocents - the benefit of the doubt because we believe in and focus on their innocence rather than their behavior. Sampson didn’t mean to destroy my things. He was caught up in the curious moment. What if we could offer ourselves the same gift?

We are so colored by how we were raised, by how our parents looked at us and treated us, by feeling alone and abandoned, and by the beliefs we were taught that our innocence gets covered over by shame, blame, and guilt; often over generations. The words that were spoken, the looks that were given, or the looks that we didn’t receive, all shape us.

If our parents were judgmental or were aloof, or if they drank and were unavailable, or worked and were absent, we grow up not only blaming them, but blaming ourselves. On the other hand, how easy it could be if we could know that they loved us in their way and that we are lovable. If we could love ourselves for who we are in our totality, we could and would much more easily love and forgive our children, our parents, our partners and our friends.  Experiencing this kind of “forgiveness shift” is the goal of Body Presencing™ and the work that I do around Family Constellations.

We all have faults and fault lines. It is blame and shame which makes them seem so terrible. So, my puppy did something I really didn’t like. Do I blame him or do I take responsibility for my part and quietly clean up the mess? Do I see him through big compassionate eyes and go forward loving him, loving myself, and forgiving us both? The choice is mine. The choice is yours. Somehow with puppies and children there is no choice at all. May it be so with the rest of us in 2013!

Recommended Resources:
I am teaching a class at Meramec Community College in St Louis, MO. beginning March 21st called Forgiveness. It is a four week course designed to help you move through your feelings instead of getting stuck in them, and come to a place of peace and forgiveness. And of course, happiness. To read more about this class go to my website, Go to the Events page and scroll down to classes. I would love to see you there!

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