I rescued a German Shepherd back in August. 16 months old and full of love, fear, bad habits, instincts, boundless energy, curiosity and 70 pounds of sheer force. After wondering whether I would EVER be able to train, retrain or even walk this lovely beast, I think I have decided to use purely positive training. I say I think because he goes after children. My trainer thinks he was kicked or teased because his reaction is so strong. I don't use the word attack because his hackles don't go up but he runs toward them and bites their feet and ankles. Yes, it is a herding instinct but much more than that. He went after my Grandson and bit his ankle through his sock. My Grandson doesn't love dogs to begin with and they haven't been together since. He went after a child at the dog park and my young neighbor who came into the backyard unannounced. We are working by walking along the fence at the nearby school as the children play and using commands, distracting him and getting him used to children's antics.
Where am I going with this? It's a metaphor for training. Maybe obscure but holds value for me in my journey to quit smoking again. Can I give myself the same purely positive attitude? Can I stop beating myself up for the many mistakes and relapses I have had? Do I need a shock collar or a prong collar? Does hurting myself help me learn?
I don't know. I don't know. There are so many things I just don't know. I do know dogs aren't people. I do know there are many trains of thought and if I can't train Ivan in a positive way to stop going after children I will have to make some tough decisions. I don't want to believe I may have to go there. Am I in denial?
I have been in denial about my feelings about quitting. I say I will and I don't. I believe excuse after excuse. I stay hidden in the dark space of addiction. I realized how angry I am. How sad I am. How hurt I am and yesterday I just cried. I cried for my past. For the immigrants walking to the border. For the state of our country. For the hate that seems so prevalent all around us. I cried because I think we all really just want love and fear is taking over and causing many of us to act out in ways that are so destructive. I realized that so many people feel this way and don't realize it. I prayed and cried and became soft again. Became loving and vulnerable in hopes of breaking open and releasing the anger that hides my true feelings of sadness and loss. We have to heal in order to save ourselves, our neighbors, our planet.
Yep! I'm all over the place but my heart remains open. I want to stop judging myself, my neighbors, my family. We can look upon things without having an opinion. Just look. We can observe the beauty all around us or see the destruction. It's all about choice. Quitting smoking is a choice only we can make. The power is within each and every one of us. From the smallest choice to one that will change our lives forever.
I am sending love and acceptance to everyone. May we decide to live in peace.