This is the second instalment to my newsletter on emotions and our pets.
(I would like to thank all the folks that emailed me last week letting me know how the information resonated with how they have either felt previously or their current emotions. I’m most pleased that the content of these newsletters is useful.)
Here is the remaining information from the last newsletter.
One difficult, heart-rending dilemma is euthanasing a dog, which has serious behaviour issues and where there seems to be no possibility of comfort or success. It is difficult to comprehend or grasp the thought of euthanasing an otherwise healthy dog over serious behavioural issues.
First, understand that you are not responsible for what happened to your dog prior to you taking it on, nor for the genetics that it comes with.
Decide on the level of risk in keeping the dog. Is it better to be proactive and prevent a potentially dangerous situation that you could come to regret? It's important to note that everyone has their own level of coping skills and this guides your direction and decision making. While you can't always control how you feel, you can control your response to those feelings.
Whether you control those emotions, or allow them to control you, is your decision. Do not mouse-wheel guilt, don’t give in to self-punishment and accept what cannot be changed.
Negative conversations with ourselves prevent us from thinking clearly. Pets can be one of life’s greatest joys. Denying yourself the joy of a new companion to share your life with is self-imposed punishment leading to loneliness and sadness. Pets have a way of enriching the quality of life. There are so many dogs seeking a loving environment and people to share their lives with.
Harsh techniques in “training” your dog, and not being vocal enough to question them, can result in guilt. If someone tries to persuade you to use fear as a training technique, or justifies the use of force, don’t hesitate to question them. Think about this very carefully. Why would you consider hurting your dog in the name of training?
We are often too harsh on ourselves. We compare our self and our dog with others and depending on the situation, are left with feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, etc.
We put undue pressure on ourselves with non-productive, even damaging, thoughts. All dogs, like their owners, are different. Failure to understand this leads to unfair judgment of your dog as well as to your own capability as a dog owner.
If you were spoilt in your relationship with your previous dog, try to see your new dog as a golden opportunity to learn more about behaviour. There is always an interesting lesson to learn.
Imagining the worst has the potential to affect quality of the owner’s as well as the dog’s life. It may lead to not getting out and about which delays socialisation. You could then feel bad, as you’re not doing the right thing by your dog.
Consciously adopting an upbeat perspective can help break the habit of thinking in self-defeating ways. Think about how often we all have conversations in the privacy of your own mind. How often are they good?
Avoid having the emphasis on the negative or on what’s wrong. Consider how often things go right and take sensible steps to move forward.
Shun the feelings of unworthiness and sense of failure about having another dog. Don’t focus on past negative experiences. Don’t question if it’s something you’re doing that you seem to attract dogs with issues.
What are the lessons you learnt from your previous dog? Could they be patience, tolerance, understanding, etc? Put these new-found skills (thanks to your previous dog) to good use. Even if your next dog has issues, there’s much you can do to help.
It cannot be underestimated how much of an emotional impact our pets have on our life. How our experiences with them affect us and even change the course of our life.
I hope your day is a great one.