Protectiveness

Shadow, our little Bichon Frise, has taken to sitting on the top of our couch in the living room so that he can look out the front window and bark ferociously at anyone who passes by our house. This is a recent (and not at all desired) development, so he must have gained some sense of ownership and protectiveness over the area of our property. We live in a semi-detached home, and he also lets our neighbours know when they’re encroaching physically or audibly on our space. His concern with external noise is the most ridiculous, as he’s the loudest creature in the two households. I’m surprised they still speak to us.

What I find most interesting is how Shadow can always tell if it’s someone from our family walking up the sidewalk to our house, as he doesn’t bark at us but just starts wagging his tail and running excitedly to the door to greet us. Thankfully he’s not protective of us when meeting people or other dogs outside. He only seems to bark at passersby while sitting at the window.

When we had our first child, I turned instantly into an overly protective parent. I’m not sure if this was a built-in instinct or I just went a bit wacky, but I definitely had to work at allowing myself to feel comfortable with some aspects of danger and risk. We lived in an apartment in those days, and one set of neighbours constantly smoked marijuana on their balcony and the smoke would often waft into our home. I went weeks without sleeping properly because I was constantly worried about whether the smoke would impact K’s health. I must have Googled a thousand articles about the topic and even called nurses and medical hotlines to ask for advice. I can’t remember whether R gave me beef liver treats to teach me to ignore my protective nature, but I do know that these treats work extremely well with Shadow. Sometimes people and dogs just need a tasty incentive to help us ignore our basic instincts. I think chocolate works better with humans though.

Standard

Tighten

I’m currently in the Minneapolis airport on a layover while travelling from Indianapolis to Winnipeg. During my first flight I experienced what the pilot referred to as “extreme turbulence.” It’s not often that the flight attendants are instructed to remain buckled into their seats for the entire duration of the journey.

When the plane hit the worst of the turbulence, it rocked, rattled and shook for a prolonged period of time. The woman sitting next to me gripped her armrests tightly and her face turned pallid and tense. The other passengers were bobbing up and down in their seats and bumping into each other’s shoulders. This was the only time I’ve ever seen people en masse put down their phones and tablets voluntarily without being instructed to do so.

Then the voice of a flight attendant came through the intercom. “Ladies and gentlemen, tighten up those seat belts.” And so I did, and found that I immediately stopped flailing around so much in my seat. There was nothing I could do to change the turbulence, but I felt more secure and safe while I waited for the worst to pass.

Over the past few months I’ve often felt like I’m on a journey I can’t get off of and on a trajectory I can’t change. Today’s flight taught me that while I may feel powerless and vulnerable at times, it’s always possible to find security and safety even in the midst of extreme turbulence. I just need to remember what to tighten around me.

Standard