I need a new dog. This one is broken.

No no no…it’s not as tragic as it sounds!  Many of you are familiar with my now nine-month-old Labrador beastess, Maya.  She imparts great wisdom to the world from her fuzzy little brain, and she keeps me walking and running, a LOT.  She’s alive and well, despite her love for and attempted consumption of the salty ice slush that surrounds my house (yes, I stop her).  She is bound and determined to be the dog that eats the world.

Anyway, I’d been so concerned about assessing her damage from being born into the hottest summer I’ve ever felt in ‘Scansin that I totally ignored the damage that could be occurring in her everyday life with ME.  My husband and I fell into a typical argument/”discussion” among couples concerning their dogs–how much territory will this pet be given in the house?  He argued that we have new carpeting (post-Buck, the old dog who left much of his insides on the outsides in his dying days) and we don’t need Maya turning it into the Land of Fuzz.  I argued that, OK, the kitchen and hallway then, but can we PLEASE let her come sit with me on the floor in the front room with a rug or a blanket or something?  I like to sit with my pup.  Well, I lost.  I sit with her in the kitchen.  FFFFFtttt!  We read up on how to restrict a dog’s access to parts of the house and followed the simple directions.

We bought a doggy gate (for us, a section of flimsy brass-colored fence intended to pen a puppy outdoors) and set it up zigzag fashion to keep her in the kitchen area with the hardwood floor.  Hey, the Dog Whisperer says a dog doesn’t need full access to your house anyway.  Who am I, a mere mortal, to question the mighty Cesar?  Maya settled in and didn’t seem to question much.  It was the way things were from Day One.  When we folded or took down sections of our little fence, she stayed in her territory and respected the boundaries we’d established.

However, she sometimes ventures a bit into our territory now that she’s a daring tween (for dog years).  The little stalker often tiptoes cautiously down the hallway to peek at me in the bathroom.  Going down the hallway is easy, but she is helpless on the return trip.  THAT’S her damage.  She turns around and stops at the invisible barrier.  She can’t bring herself to make the return trip across the spot where the fence once stood, even though she already walked down the hall past it.  I can throw a ball across it or try to lure her with treats, but she panics.  If I push her furry butt, she performs a perfect Looney Tunes shuffle, and her paws move in a high-speed blur.  She eventually claws her way back into the kitchen in fright.  She’s been scarred.

(Now I know at least one blogger of the feline, mmm, “persuasion” will jump at the opportunity to call Maya “stoopid,” but I’ll have you know that on the fair side of the invisible barrier is the playing field for the exciting game known as Stairball, which we play here in the Land of the Cheese when we are becoming Shacky Wacky in the endless cold.  Maya deposits her tennis ball and toy ball at the top of the basement steps and bats them down like the high priestess of hockey.  We figured out her game one night after she hit a ball into the basement seventeen times when my husband came home from work.  “Uh, do you think she’s doing that on purpose?”  I soooo wisely asked.  Since then, it’s become a sport, and her coordination and aggressive batting technique have improved.  Anyway, southern kitty, come visit for a little batting practice!)

Maya’s Invisible Barrier has me thinking, though.  What kind of “damage” do we each have–do I have–from our earliest years?  It could be the incidental result of some good intentions, but it still lingers.  If such strong conditioning can occur as our brains mature…how do you undo it?  It’s probably easy to identify your invisible barriers, but how do you tear them down?

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~ by rebuildingholly on February 17, 2013.

2 Responses to “I need a new dog. This one is broken.”

  1. Munker said Maya rules!!
    So funny – I’ve often thought of the invisible barriers we all carry with us – and I do not believe anyone escapes them. Fortunately I had loving parents; I particularly consider those who did not. How can they possibly view authority figures, spouses, etc., as supportive and loving? How can someone abused by a father come to a spirituality based on a male authority figure? (NOT bashing any spirituality, just considering the issues the person might have).
    Love the mind picture of “invisible barriers”. You have me thinking.

    • It IS something to think about…We are shaped by our early experiences (like Maya’s puppyhood), and sometimes we suffer effects in ways our trainers never intended! By the way, Maya now regularly backs over her invisible barrier when she digs up the moxie to inch across it. Problem solved. Sorta. She won’t go far past it when she hits a foul ball in Stairball!

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