Well... we'd had the cushions a long time... (observent folks will note that they feature with Daisy in the image at the top of the page) and as we learned from Winifred in the last blog, we should welcome change. Winifred brought that home to us quite clearly (she is insistent in her teachings, and wants everybody to appreciate them) when she decided that the cushion was clearly boring and needed redesigning - and she's right; it does look much more exciting and unique now!
Winifred has two specific times of day when she likes to let her inner puppy out to play - one in the morning, just after breakfast; and the other in the late afternoon, before supper. The rest of the time she spends mostly sleeping at the moment - walks are not yet permitted as she hasn't had all her vaccinations. However, we took her out for her first trip around the lanes with Mungo yesterday evening; even being carried her little nose was whiffling interestedly at all the sights and smells she could take in from her vantage point... Robbie the horse was a huge fascination for her!
It's quite clear that her puppyhood, although never before allowed an outlet, is still within easy reach of her tiny paws... there would have been no toys in the puppy farm, and yet she knew just what to do with the selection in the toy box - and rifled through them all to discover "Rubber Pig" buried and forgotten at the bottom (last played with by Hugo and kept for sentimental reasons - he did used to be "Squeaky Rubber Pig" but... well... things change...).
I believe very firmly that we can't develop in a strong, congruent manner unless our foundations are secure. Just like a building, we pass through a variety of stages and challenges throughout our lives, and we have to have a good outcome at each stage in order to keep our building stable... and if we don't, then psychotherapy can help us to get it back on track. (If you are curious, there is a lovely model by Erik Erikson that describes this lifelong development.)
For dogs, of course, psychotherapy is not possible - although dogs tell themselves much less complex stories inside their heads! Mungo, having spent many more years inside a puppy farm, has a much less stable building than Winifred; even after two years, he still doesn't know how to play. Winifred is embracing toys, games and chasing with all her tiny heart - and guess what... she is showing Mungo how it's done.
From time to time, we allow all three of the canine members of staff to have a sleep-over in our bedroom… Daisy and Lily like to sleep in the middle of the bed (although I have occasionally woken in the night with Daisy lying across my neck like a scarf) and Theo sleeps in his bed in the corner of the room… or at least he is supposed to. In practice, he will wait until we are asleep and then climb stealthily onto the bottom of the bed, hoping that we won’t notice.
Daisy is usually the first to awaken (generally before the alarm goes off), and likes to start her day with her morning exercises of upside down rolling, accompanied by tiny growls of pleasure. If we make the slightest movement to demonstrate that we are awake, however, this will then send Lily and Theo into ecstatic transports of delight, involving much leaping around and general joyousness at our appearance from the realms of sleep.
What are your first thoughts when you awaken in the morning? The thoughts you choose to have in your head will colour your entire day…. If you start off believing you will have a bad day, then your unconscious mind will obligingly provide you with evidence throughout the day to support this belief – and you will have created a self-fulfilling prophecy.
What if, instead, you decide to start your day with enthusiasm, gratitude and curiosity…?
“Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, ‘You owe me’. Look what happens with a love like that – it lights the whole sky.” – Hafiz of Persia
Lily and her canine colleagues are all masters of the art of unconditional giving – and of receiving. Lily will happily spend long periods of time patiently cleaning Poppy’s eyes, or Theo’s ears – and they, in their turn, will happily let her. As a puppy, when teething, Theo would chew enthusiastically on his mother, Lily’s, ears, while she lay patiently, not seeming to mind the soggy outcome, or the subsequent crispiness of dried, licked fur.
What happens when we give somebody a gift, or an offer of help… Do we expect something in return? Are we offended if the person receiving it doesn’t like our gift, or chooses to give it away again to somebody else? The Aborigines would say, if we have that sort of attachment to a gift, then it is not a gift at all, it is something else. If it is a true gift then it is given unconditionally; we should not mind at all what the other person chooses to do with it, and certainly have no expectation of receiving anything in exchange.
And when somebody offers us a gift, do we receive it graciously and with gratitude – or do we feel beholden to the giver and consider that we have to reciprocate in some way? When we accept a gift with genuine gratitude we are already giving something back to the giver – the gift of true appreciation.
Theo the schnauzer has to be one of the most ebulliently joyful creatures with whom it has been my pleasure to share my life. His sheer boundless enthusiasm and wanton curiosity for just about anything in his universe is a lesson in itself. He’ll be gratefully appreciative of any gift you care to give him (even if you personally wouldn’t consider it a treat – raw potato or spinach accidentally dropped will be happily accepted) and gives in return his abundant happiness and pleasure in your company. He also knows everything there is to know about relaxation and makes the best relaxing noises I’ve ever heard… his favourite place to be is cuddled up on the sofa with as many of his friends (human and canine) as will fit.
...and the Canine Members of Staff