This week has given me time to reflect on the last 2 months with my woof. On Friday morning Poppy and I took Charnell along with us to visit our local coffee shop. I realised on that walk just how far we have come together. In two short months.
When Poppy moved into my life a ‘walk’ was to the corner of my street and back home. Maybe 100m and I was proud of myself! It was a huge achievement for me to be up and outside and brave enough to make it to the corner.
Our daily walks have slowly increased and now 2km is a normal morning stroll for us. And here is where the magic really happens – how a brown eared woof has changed my own physiology: I am not only able to physically walk further and faster than before but for the first time in 5 years I can now walk without pain or feeling uncomfortable.
I suffered quite severe burns when I was raped and that scar tissue on my legs hasn’t healed with the elasticity I used to have. Two months into Poppy arriving, it is remarkable to realise that my body is healing alongside this 4 pawed friend. My personal victory on our walks now is when Poppy sits down for a breather before I do.
But this adventure is not just shifting me physically. There is also a profound effect on my psyche. The bottom line is that I don’t feel as afraid anymore.
Just over 2 months ago, I would have been unable to walk past a stranger on the road without triggering anxiety and panic attacks. Now Poppy warns me about someone ahead or behind us. To protect me she quite literally sits down next to me and watches them intently till they pass – almost as if she is saying “I can see you so just watch it!” I never taught her to do this – she just does it instinctively! And my heart knows that she has my back.
The number of flashbacks I now deal with has decreased remarkably too. I’m learning to stay in the present more and more. Poppy needs me too as much as I need to!
That is not to say there aren’t bad days anymore. But I’m not as overwhelmed by them as I used to be. Mainly because Pops recognises them and curls up under my duvet or at my feet to help me through them. And then when I’m feeling stronger, her beautiful blue eyes look up at me as if to say “right hooman, glad you’re better because I found a new stick to show you” and my heart laughs out loud.
Get a dog they said. It will be fun they said.
Of course it’s fun. But I never knew my heart could expand so much for a fur friend. And what I never imagined, was her ability to shift my life so quickly.
I have very happy tears tonight. They are rolling out of my heart.
What adventures await us? What new things will she find tomorrow to chew or drag inside? Even in her maddest energetic puppy mode, my heart instantly forgives her for the chewing and the mess. No one I know lives in the moment quite like this woof.
And that is the heart of her magic.
As I type this, I’m on the start of another technical set up week at work, starting tomorrow morning. Tonight I’m excited for the process and not riddled with anxiety like I used to be. Even my IBS is calm. I think walking is having a profound effect on that too!
This week I want to remember to laugh. To create theatre magic that my heart is proud of. To stay in the moment.
Save a dog from a shelter they said.
This dog is saving me.
On every level.
When I was little I used to imagine ribbons joining my heart to those I loved. Long colourful ribbons. With this woof however I know now that this is a bond beyond ribbons and healing.
It is about her influence on my body and mind beyond anything that modern medicine can provide. No exaggerations.
Tonight as she sleeps curled up on the couch, I whispered into her ears to tell her how much I love her.
I pray she knows.
No. I know she does. I can see it in her eyes and in her heart.
Thank you my Pops. Words fail me in the midst of my happy tears tonight.
My life is bigger and my heart is braver because of you.