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.
Winifred arrived somewhat unexpectedly; a tiny black and silver schnauzer in need of her forever home, following her rescue from a puppy farm by Friends of Animals Wales. We were anticipating that she would be a bit like Mungo, and take time to come out of her shell - but after 36 hours she has already learned her name, how to do the stairs, emptied the toy box to discover the ones at the bottom, and which ones she likes best (the crinkly octopus, for sure), bounced Mungo out of bed so that she can play with him, and showed that she loves to chase a ball in the garden. In fact, she's discovering her delayed puppyhood, and she loves it!
Winifred is only two... she'd clearly had a litter not long before she was rescued, and we don't know the reason why she was surrendered for rescue at this point - but we are very glad that she was. Being so young, she doesn't seem anywhere near as traumatised as Mungo; just a bit wary of us to begin with, but it didn't take long before her innate joyfulness and lightness of spirit shone through.
We chose her name because she needed something that suited her grace and delicacy, and Winifred seemed to suit her. The name means 'joy and peace', and St Winifred is also the patron saint of protection from unwanted advances, so it's doubly perfect for a little ex-puppy farm girlie who is reclaiming her joyful birthright.
Little Matilda joined our family in early April, following the sad loss of our beautiful Theo to lymphoma earlier in the year. She needed us as much as we needed her - her previous Mum had developed some health issues and was no longer able to look after her, so we took Luna to meet Matilda and they were friends at first sight...
She is, as all puppies are, part little angel, part tiny demon... but as Carl Jung once wrote, "The greater the contrast, the greater the potential. Great energy only comes from a correspondingly great tension of opposites."
"The greater the contrast, the greater the potential. Great energy only comes from a correspondingly great tension of opposites." - Carl Jung
Matilda certainly has great energy, as Luna can testify; they play crazy games of chase together - not caring whether they are in the garden, bedroom or sitting room, and then subside in a panting, happy heap. Like Luna, and like Daisy before her, Matilda knows how to bring the joy...
Matilda of course has no concept of self-judgement - she is fearless! She doesn't worry that she is "not good enough" because she likes to roll in pigeon poo, or that she is a "bad person" because she cherishes secret fantasies of catching one of the voles who inhabit the garden wall... she doesn't wallow in guilt because she was sick on our duvet at 4am... she just is as she is, and accepts herself for who she is because she has no idea that there is any other way to be. What liberation! No wonder she is so joyful...
Self-acceptance is a key aspect in developing wellbeing and rediscovering our own joy. To quote Carl Jung once again, "How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also if I am to be whole." When we can accept all of ourselves - the light as well as the dark - then we are liberated from others' judgements of us; we realise that what others think of us is not about us at all - it is a reflection of their own thoughts and being.
It doesn't matter what others think of you - it is what you think of you that is the most important thing. Become fearless and spread the joy!
It’s just over three weeks since little Luna joined us, and we can’t believe how easily she has just taken everything in her stride… Nothing seems to faze her, and she is abundantly curious about each new experience. “What excitement can I discover here?” seems to be her motto.
She’s deeply fascinated by the numerous bumblebees that frequent the clover flowers in the lawn; having briefly experimented with eating one, she’s now decided that’s possibly a bit too exciting and is contenting herself with sniffing them, and then chasing after them when they fly busily off to the next flower… The fat woodpigeons who sit, apparently in deep contemplation, on the lawn are also good fun to chase – flapping heavily away at the last minute, only to perch on the wall and look down at her in high dudgeon at being so rudely awakened from their meditative trance.
An early exploration of the pond has fortunately not been repeated – no doubt to the collective relief of the newt population – but everything within the garden and without has been subject to her close sensory scrutiny. The paths and lanes we walk must smell astonishing to her; from her previous life in the suburbs of a city she is now surrounded by the sights and smells of horse and sheep, pheasant and partridge, hare, rabbit and deer…
And yet… every new experience is treated as a joyful discovery, enthusiastically widening her previous comfort zone of familiarity.
Daisy is our youngest member of staff. At just turned two, she is endearingly barmy, with a lightness of foot that always brings to mind a floating dandelion seed. Sometimes, when she is running, she will make a flying leap into the air, seemingly for no other reason than sheer joy of living.
I had to take her to the vet’s on Wednesday for her annual injection; a procedure to which she took grave exception, nobly demonstrated when she was volubly sick all over the consulting table. I expected that when we arrived home she would be a bit quiet, but no – apart from a tendency to demand more cuddles, she was her own, tiny dancing self again.
...and the Canine Members of Staff