I Came Home Today

homeI came home today. Now, before you can really understand what this means, I need to back track and explain a few things. I haven’t talked much about this spiritual journey I have embarked on. It has been interesting, but not incredibly noteworthy until now. I broke through. I moved mountains! I felt true, open, vulnerable happiness. I have been freed of the mental chains holding me back, and I can see the light. I have a deep sense of peace, and I realize that what’s been holding me back has been me this whole time.

I have a beautiful soul, and I have a shining light of happiness inside me. I have had different events or people try to squash it, bury it, murder it, or take it from me. Some have been successful at dampening its’ power. But I have learned to protect myself, and learned that this power is mine. It’s my light, my happiness, it’s my life. I can choose how to use the power, who to give my light to, and how to protect it.

So, let me explain how this all started. I have been receiving healing from an energy healer. But not just any energy healer. Someone who specializes in working with the psyche. She dives deep into the inner chakras to see where you have emotional blocks, and helps you work through them at your own pace. You do the work. You feel it, you work through it, and she helps guide you. Through one on one sessions, she uses a metaphorical dialogue to help you understand how you view things, and work through programs you are running as self defense mechanisms. These programs actually cause more harm that good, and she helps you change your programming. Dynamic breathwork is another tool she uses to help you push out energy that gets stuck. This can also help clear entities. You can work through deep emotional traumas, baggage, and hurts that haunt you. This baggage you carry around can destroy your hopes, dreams, relationships, and your mind. You can push out dark, negative energy that damages your psyche. Through these tools, I have prepared myself for a workshop where we will work through deep childhood wounding. But that’s a different post.

marshall1So, fast forward to last week. I was in a breathwork class, and I started to work through something huge. Things like blame, pain, death, loss, shame. The loss of my dear Marshall. It was so tragic, so sudden, and not fair. My dogs are my family. The loss of Marshall was devastating, and I didn’t want to let go. Because I thought if I let go, he’d be gone forever or maybe I’d forget him if I didn’t hurt anymore. Of course, his physical body was gone already, but I couldn’t accept that he wasn’t with me anymore. It was too painful to let go. During this session, he came up. Not physically ‘came up’, but he was in my thoughts, my memories. I remembered in detail. That fateful day. Every second was in slow motion, and I relived it. It was so painful and I was screaming. Sometime during this playback in my head, I heard a voice. Not clear, but a whisper, straight to my soul. It was myself talking. I said “It’s not your fault. Forgive, and let go. Let him go.” I started crying, and I didn’t want to let go, so I fought. I fought the feeling and wanted to hang on. Tetany happens when you have control issues and you can’t let go of the hurt. Your muscles cramp up and you can’t open your hands. It’s scary and it is excruciating. This started to happen, and it’s happened before. This time, I surrendered to the pain, and I let go. I cried violently, and I let go of Marshall. I forgave myself. It wasn’t my fault. His spirit is always with me because he is a part of me. He isn’t part of my FAMILY, he’s part of ME. When I realized this, I stopped crying and I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I felt him there with me. And I realized he had never left me. He’s with me even now, because he is part of my soul. That’s why I connected with him so well. We found each other, and he needed me in his life. I needed him, because I was missing a piece of my soul. He couldn’t be a part of me in physical body, but he can this way. Then remembered all the little cute things that he did all the time and I smiled, I laughed, I cried, I mourned, and I let go. And soon, I was at peace. Right after this happened, I was enveloped by a warm purple light. My guardians, I presume. They protect me, and they were happy I have reached this state. They gave me a gift. This gift was protection and said I can have this peaceful, happy feeling as long as I want it, but there was a price. Vulnerability. I had to agree to keep my heart center open, and accept peace and happiness without fear. I agreed to try to my best and protect myself against negative energies who try to bring down this feeling. I have control of this, and no one should be able to take this from me. I am in control of myself and my experiences in my life.

This experience was so powerful, I had a feeling of euphoria when I left that night. I control my life. I can CHOOSE to be happy. Happiness comes when I am open to vulnerability. I don’t have to be scared of being vulnerable. I overcame the pain, the fear, the paranoia. I did it. I put in the work and boy, since then, I will live my life so much happier. But it’s not over.

pagodaToday, I had a one-on-one session with her again. We use metaphors to help work through things. She always asks us to visualize a ‘red colored bridge’. Usually I see a bridge in the woods, a forest, or there’s a waterfall behind it. The path is always dirt, and heading towards the forest or woods. Today, it was different. Today, I saw a pagoda. Cherry blossom trees were all around me, losing their leaves. I walked up to the pagoda, seeming like a good thing to do, and feel like I should go inside. I walk inside, and it’s a temple of some kind. There is an alter with a statue on it, reading materials, black boards, meditation mats, etc. It’s clearly a community building where people go to worship. There’s someone inside, meditating. After some time (and energy work), we realize this person is pretending to be me. This person is tricking me and is imposter. He shouldn’t be here. I look at this a different way, and I realize this building belongs to someone, it isn’t a community building. It’s mine. This is my house, and this person has taken over. This is an entity who shouldn’t be here in this space. This entity moved in a very long time ago, and has been comfortable here for years. What it brought into my house is chaos, organization, and trickery. I asked him (it was a male monk impersonating me) to leave my house. He was confused, not violent, but didn’t understand why, after all this time, that it had to leave. I was firm and told him to leave again. I had help sending this entity away, and this place of worship transformed into a comfortable, cozy tiny place where I immediately felt welcome and happy. This is my home.

I look around, and feel like it has been far too long since I’ve really been home. I notice a black dog sleeping in front of a fireplace. I go to him, and I notice he is very old and blind. He has been waiting for me all this time. I finally came home, and his tail wags when I go to him. But something is wrong. He’s ready to die. He’s been waiting for me, so he can die. I hold him, and tell him I love him, and give him the release he needs to leave this world. I send him compassion and deep, unconditional love. Tears start to form, and I know I don’t have much time with this dog. I don’t know him, but I feel a deep attachment to him. I look into his milky, blind eyes, and I say goodbye to my new, but old friend. I see the light go out, and his body goes limp. He died in my arms. As I am holding his lifeless body, his physical body is disappearing. I truly did let him go, and I stand up, ready to move on. This is my space. This is my home, and I can choose who I let come in. I can choose who stays in my space. It is not a right, and I can be more conscious of who I let in. That doesn’t mean build walls, but I have the right to claim my own space.

cherryblossomsI went outside and saw it was night. On the wrap around porch of my pagoda was a rocking chair. I sat in the chair, and looked out into the night. I smelled the clean air, and watched mallards pick at bugs by the riverbed, right next to the red bridge. The river was flowing lazily with koi and cherry blossom leaves. There were no outdoor lights, but the stars and moon were bright enough to light everything up and what I was saw clear and peaceful. No one was around, but it was comforting. Knowing I was home, and the air was still, the atmosphere totally silent. In the air, you could smell nature and the crisp, clean scent of cherry blossoms. It was a beautiful scene, and I felt at peace. There was a shooting star, and I realized I was going to be ok, because this is my life.

I left feeling more in control of my own life. I am ready for the Inner Child work. I am ready to go on and set forth and learn to be happy in this body with this soul. I am learning how I can protect myself from negative energies, others’ ill wills, and how to also just be. I meditate every day, and do grounding exercises every morning to start the day. Getting snow today was a beautiful gift. It helps quiet the mind, I think.

Anyway, to close, I am learning how to take care of myself emotionally and spiritually. I am working to find all things balance in life, and I want to practice seeing beauty again. I have been so focused on all that has gone wrong, I forgot to see the good and what has gone RIGHT. Where there is good, there is always evil. I was focusing too much on the evil and the bad things. I want to focus on the beauty, the love, and I want to feel peace. I feel so connected and grounded, and this is a feeling I want forever. I can make that happen because I have the power to control my perspective!

Year’s Reflection

Dixie National Forest 12/2016

Dixie National Forest 12/2016

As the year is nearing the close, I can honestly say I am not the same person I was 12 months ago. I have changed in many ways I have never thought possible. I grow every year, but this year was incredibly traumatic, painful, and reflective of how far I’ve come.

Nappy, my very happy boy!I started the year by meeting an incredible guy. Literally, on New Years, I found Rob. I found him and kissed him, and stole his heart. He’s the most incredible, self sufficient person I have ever met, and he has big dreams. Guess what? I do too. The more I learned about him, the harder I started to fall. He’s amazing. He’s done amazing things, has really great stories of parts of his life, and has taught me so much about what is possible in this life. It has been an absolutely crazy journey, but I am so in love with him, and together, we can move mountains. We can do anything. The problem is we want to do EVERYTHING! We have gone through intense good times, but also heavy traumas and very deep, dark things. But we are going through it together. So, here’s to many more years to see what happens! Hopefully, the hard parts are subsiding, and we are building a fruitful foundation for the years to come!

I sold the house I bought with my ex husband all those years ago. I fixed it up with help from my friends, and sold it. I learned how to do drywall, do mudding & taping, painting, flooring, I laid cement, and learned to use many different kinds of tools I didn’t know how to before.

Upper Setting near Mirror Lake, Kanab, UT 06/2016

Upper Setting near Mirror Lake, Kanab, UT 06/2016

I learned how to take care of my own landscaping. And I learned more about all the legal hoops you have to jump through when you do something like get married or get divorced. It’s all ridiculous, but I learned more about everything. I learned more about the processes for buying and selling property, commercial buildings, licensing codes, how city ordinance works, and what to do when things get tricky.

 

 

I lived in a 900 sq ft studio where I shared space with my 5 dogs, and all my business visitors. Clients and dogs alike were invited to the only space I could call my own (which wasn’t even mine). My bed sat next to my kennel room. My Jedkitchen was in my living room. But I managed, and I kept up a positive attitude. I was forced out eventually, and I moved to a loft above my friend’s tack room on her ranch for several weeks after a house I had an offer for fell through 4 days before closing. She was incredibly generous, as I really thought I would be living out of my truck, while continuing to train dogs to make a living. That family is one of the sweetest families I know, and every single one of them are beautiful. I thank them from the bottom of my heart that I didn’t have to live in my truck for weeks while I found another house. I had a roof over my head, and a safe place for my dogs to live.

This gave me a brand new appreciation for being grateful for what I do have, and cherish the things and the people that I used to take for granted. Most of the time, not on purpose, but now I see the world much differently. I love more, I cherish more, and I don’t take running water, electricity, money, or life for granted. Material things mean little to nothing to me now. A ‘rich life’ means a happy lifestyle to me. That’s all I want. I don’t care about what I have, how much money I make, or material possessions. I just want to be happy, and live an emotionally, spiritually, and mentally rich lifestyle.

Moab, UT 10/2016

Moab, UT 10/2016

I found a house, and I moved in to this old, cottage-type home I fell in love with in May. Yes, it’s a project house with a shit ton of landscaping and yard work, but I loved it. I had help moving in from my friends, my clients, and my family (Rob’s included). It was an emotional experience, because moving into this house meant all the shit I went through before now is over, and I could leave all that baggage behind me. And I did. Slowly, I let it go. I didn’t have to continue to move every few weeks/months and I could start rebuilding. The work I had planned on doing on my house was quality work. I want to take the time to fix ‘er up and make ‘er mine. A few months later, Rob officially moved in with me. We are so happy, and this just felt right. Not rushed, and not because it was more convenient, but because it was right. We are together because we want to be, and no other reason. That’s the way it should be.

Horsetail Falls hike, Alpine, UT

Horsetail Falls hike, Alpine, UT

This house has many problems that we knew about, and a plethora of even more we didn’t know. It’s old, so some of the issues are because of wear and tear, old materials, and things that are outdated. But some of them are because of how things have been updated, band-aid fixes, or shoddy work on the house. We will slowly fix everything, and update what needs to be updated. The yard work in itself could take us years alone.Redoing the work others have done will also take years. That’s ok. We have all the time in the world. Life is what we make it!  No rush. This isn’t a race.

We have a bedroom, 2 bathrooms, the dog house, and the kitchen that are under construction all at the same time (we didn’t plan it that way…obviously). We are working on fencing projects, landscaping, and flooring all at the same time. Big projects are a constantly here, and it can be overwhelming, but we are trying to make the best of everything, and not let it overwhelm us. I feel it’s a direct relation to our life right now, and even though there are projects, all of them are repairable.

I have also had quite a lot of trauma this year. I have lost 3 of my personal dogs (Jed, Napoleon, and Marshall), 2 client dogs, and a foster dog. Plus all my friends who have lost animals this year. heather and marshallIt all hits me so hard, and it seems I’m so sensitive to loss now. This year was incredibly traumatic. I have a passion for life, but my heart has been broken over and over this year. It feels like it won’t ever totally heal. I want a lull in the disasters for a while. One thing after another, it keeps crashing. Devastating chaos keeps hitting, and before I’m able to fully recover from one, another one happens. It makes me want to stop working, and spend all the time I have cherishing the ones I do have. I wish life would allow that.

My heart has been broken so many times this year, I feel like it doesn’t know how to fully heal anymore. Happiness is a dream. It’s like something that if I try hard enough, I may see it again. Not that I’m unhappy or miserable, but I have an overhead gloom over everything that taunts me with ‘What’s Next?’ questions. What happened in this universe to cause all these things to happen? What energy am I putting out to allow this to continue happening? I started learning about energy transfers and similar things several years ago. I didn’t believe I was putting anything out that would cause these things to happen to me. I felt like a victim. Terrible things have happened. But I don’t see myself as a victim anymore. I see it as I need to learn something. I need to learn what energy I am putting out, and make it more positive, so I attract more positive events in my life. Happy, positive events, rather than chaotic, traumatic ones. That’s my take away. I’m working towards a more uplifting, happy life. I don’t want complicated or hurtful anymore. I want to do away with the negative. Not a New Years’ resolution, but a goal. I want to focus my energies on spreading positive, happy vibes. So, when life gives you lemons…Fuck the lemons and bail! Haha, no, I want to go with the flow of life, and accept even the bad things with grace. I want to be and let be. Make lemonade… anyway, you know all the metaphors, you know what I’m saying. I want to be able to roll with the punches! Ok, I’ll stop. I’m done!

Goodbye, Marshall

marshallhatLife is a precious gift. It can be taken away so quickly. I hold my family a little closer today, as our sweet Marshall unexpectedly passed away last night. We are devastated, and it still doesn’t feel real. I keep expecting to hear his little feet on the floor pitter pattering as quick as he can to come to me if I called him. He wasn’t sick, he wasn’t old. He was taken far too early. He was one of my best dogs, and the best ‘little’ I have ever had. I never thought I would have a little dog, as I’m into the ‘tough’ breeds. But then Marshall came to me for training and I fell in love with him. I told the family if they ever didn’t want him or couldn’t keep him, that I wanted him. I never expected to hear that a year later, they were moving and couldn’t take him. So without hesitation, I took him and he was immediately a part of my pack. I didn’t foster him, or even try to adopt him out. He just belonged with me. He was an amazing dog, and brought so much happiness to every person he met. I never expected this would happen so soon.

homedepotmarshallWe buried him under a tree in our front yard. He will stay here forever, and bring nutrients to the trees, the soil, and the earth. His body has returned to the planet, and his soul is now on a journey to wherever else it needs to be. He’ll always be with me, and I’ll have all the beautiful memories of him to remember him. I want to remember my bright, happy Marshall. I want to remember all the silly, cute things he did. The house feels very dreary today. Our hearts are breaking, and our souls cry. I wish this didn’t happen.

marshall

I remember the way he would sit or lay on top of the big dogs to stay warm.

I remember how fast he would run back to me when I called him. His recall was always awesome.

I remember how when the other dogs were eating, Marshall would clean up the pieces they missed. No one minds, and he never tries to steal food from out of their bowl.

I remember how he would try to sneakily crawl up underneath the blanket to snuggle on the couch.

Chasing Jane around the loveseat in the living room.

Always walking nicely on or off a leash, never had a problem listening.

When you corrected him for something, he would stare at you with one paw held up.

marshallhorsesWhen he curled up in the big dog beds by himself and his tail was resting on his nose, like he was hiding.

When we all went camping, and he found the sunniest little spot to rest while we were all cooking breakfast.

How everyone who met him instantly loved him.

When I would let him sleep with me in my bed, and he could curl up right behind my knees.

jinxmarshallHow he loved to sit right in between the big dogs’ paws, like he belonged to them.

How he was the perfect size to sit with you and make you feel better.

He wasn’t really ever scared of anything.

He had no issue putting any size dog in their place if they were being pushy or rude.

How he loved to drag around the biggest bone he could find.

That time we went to the Farmer’s Market and Rob put him in his camelback because he was tired.

marshallgrassHow everyone thought he was a puppy.

How he loved people so much, he would just start walking with them.

How he just looked extra cute no matter what he was doing.

His eyes were too big for his face.

The time I took him trail riding, and he kept up with the horses like it was no big deal.

How he was amazing with kids and all other dogs.

He was awesome with all animals. He never tried to hurt chickens, cats, kittens, or even little rats.

He was the ‘Marshall’ of the dog yard. He was named after Eminem, but to me, he was literally a Marshall. An authority figure.

He really was the best dog.

squishesmarshallI’m really going to miss him, the house won’t be the same without him. I only had him several years, but in that time, he left his pawprint there. For such a small dog, he had the biggest presence in the best way. His spunky, happy personality is what I want to remember.

We will build you a little memorial in front of your tree, and plant flowers there in the Spring. You have no idea how many dogs you helped, and how many people were touched by you. You have made a huge impact on the world, and I will never forget you. You can never be replaced. I’ll do my best to keep my chin up and put on the smile, because I know you wouldn’t want me to be sad. In fact, I feel like you would be curled up with me right now, trying to cheer me up.

I love you, Marshall. So much. Be at peace now.

marshalltail

polymarshall

What Is Love?

soulbeautyI love everyone. Every single person I come in contact with is loved by me in some way. I choose to see the good in people. I choose to see beauty, and I see that everywhere I go. I see that in the mountains outside my house, the stars in the sky at night, in the personality of my dogs, and in the mechanics of my car. I choose to see beauty in absolutely everything. In people, I see their physical looks of course, but more importantly, I feel I can see the beauty of their soul. I start talking to people, and in just a few seconds of meeting them, I see them radiate their own special aura of beauty. I see their personality shine through when they speak, smile, work with their dog or interact with their family. And to me, every person is incredible and beautiful in their own unique way.

In the people closest to me; my friends and family and my clients, I have a very special opportunity to get to know them a little better. And in doing so, I get to know what makes them tick a little closer. I get to know their strengths, their weaknesses, and their fears. In working with my clients’ dogs, I build a sort of very personal relationship, and I do see habits and personalities that some of their closest friends don’t even notice. And I love this part of my job. I can help people with those weaknesses and build confidence, which is empowering to them. I see it and it brings me joy when the concepts click and they are proud of themselves. That is one of my very favorite parts about my job. That’s one of things that makes me tick.

With some of my clients, I become friends with them. I start to care about their families and what they are doing on a daily basis with their dogs. More so than just on a professional level. I try very hard to make sure boundaries don’t get crossed. Just like a therapist and their patient, it’s important to not encroach on their patients’ personal lives. I have met some of my very best friends through my career, but it’s always friend or dog trainer in those moments. I go into a zone on either one. This has taken some practice on how to “turn off” either side.

I am a transparent person. I never lie (I’m not very good at it anyway), and I expect the same from my clients and the people in my life. When I am lied to, it deeply damages my soul, and my ability to see the beauty in people. I have been lied to, betrayed, hurt, and broken in the darkest of ways. Repeatedly. So, my soul isn’t as beautiful as it used to be. It has pockmarks and scars throughout. Once again, I feel as if my soul is dark and twisty and broken.

I’m looking past the scars and sometimes gaping wounds of my clients when they come to me for help with their dogs, so I’m trying to look past my own. I won’t hide, I won’t retreat. I’ll just keep going and give the wounds time to heal. The wounds that other people keep inflicting on me. I protect myself, but eventually I get tired, and let my guard down. Then I get clubbed with ugliness and evil. I always get up, but I take on these new battle scars each time.

Regardless of my battle scars, I will never stop loving deeply, or seeing the beauty in every person I meet. No one can take this from me. I will always get up eventually. And no one else is in charge of my feelings but me. I choose to be happy, I choose to be in control of my emotions and my state of mind.

Sometimes, in helping another person through some of their problems, I heal a little bit of me. Sometimes, being broken in company is the best kind of remedy. I helped someone release a little bit of emotion today. And it made me see how absolutely beautiful they were. A little later in the same day, she was there for me when I needed to be healed. I’m hoping it did the same to her, as it did to me.

beauty

Today, I faced one of my biggest fears. I haven’t been inside of a church willingly in over 10 years. Walking up to the doors of the church took me 2 tries. I stalled and answered a phone call first, and then took some deep breaths, accepted it was going to hurt… and then let it go and moved on. And I walked in. I got a little nervous again walking down a long, narrow hallway with closed doors on either side. I felt very claustrophobic, but I kept walking. I just focused on my breathing, and how this is for a good cause. I needed to do this. I got to the end of the hallway and reached my destination. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment for just a few seconds. And then I realized where I was.

I was attending a client’s funeral. I was invited to attend this intimate event and robinjablonmourn the loss of this client with her family and friends. She was an incredibly beautiful person, and the way I remember her, she was always smiling and had a warm, inviting presence. She was there for me in my own time of loss, and was incredibly supportive. Nothing but loving energy from her, telling me everything will be ok, and that I’ll become stronger from my trials. She said she would pray for me, and that I deserve all the happiness in the world. I truly believe she meant that when she told me that, and I felt a sense of peace.

I helped her with her dog for about a year previously, but as she started to get sicker and sicker, her dog sensed that and became more and more possessive. I didn’t put together the dots on this until later, so we did more sessions, and I helped her with confidence and leadership building, but we weren’t making much progress. It was shortly after our last session that she was diagnosed with brain cancer. It was around midnight in early December that she messages me on my business page. She said she had a brain tumor and was losing her vision, and was so scared of death. She didn’t know what to do, but she felt like she wanted to reach out to me, that we had a connection and she wanted to tell me. I felt deep sadness for her, and I wish I could have teleported to where she was to hold her and give her the type of energy she gave me in my time of need.

I wanted to remember this client as the beautiful soul she was, so I didn’t want to see her in the open casket. I could still see her face, and the top of her head. And even though I didn’t go up to see her closely, she was radiant. She was beautiful, even while sleeping eternally. And she was loved deeply. Everyone had such wonderful things to say about her, and it made me think about her husband and her family a lot. They had such touching words to share about him as well. “Her boys were her greatest accomplishments”, “Her family was the best gift she could ever receive in this life”, “She loved her family with all her heart”… And then the things they were saying about her husband. “He gave her the life she always wanted, and she lived it to her fullest”, “He was the perfect husband”, “Not once did I ever hear her complain about him, or say you two had an argument”, “You were her best friend and treated her with such kindness”, “Billy, you were her guardian angel. She always did like the thrill rides and did scary things at 59 like white water rapids”, “Billy, she’s waiting for you in Heaven”. I’m not religious, but these words got me more than anything else said. I am very spiritual, and when I die, I hope someone is saying those things to my partner. Life is too short and precious. I want my life to be filled with beauty and love. This was a bittersweet reminder of what I have been missing.

It also got me thinking to what I would do if I suddenly died. What’s most important to me, and who? Who deserves to make decisions for me in death? What type of service do I want? Let’s be clear. I don’t want to be buried in an expensive box. I want to go back to the Earth. Let me decompose and be born again into a tree. I want to be part of the beauty that is this world. I want my friends and family to bring their dogs to my service. I don’t want sad music or churches. I want to have a gathering of everyone I love (which, as I said…is everyone) come and talk about silly, funny, happy stories about my life. Tears are fine, but I want people to be more happy than mourning. I want my dogs to be taken care of by people who love them as deeply as I do. I want my business to be sold to someone who has a passion for training and teaching, or be shut down and have the money go towards my friends and family who have helped me get to where I am (“am” meaning at my time of death).

So, to conclude this very long blog post, I am choosing to be happy. I am in charge of my life and how I feel. I choose to see beauty in everyone. I hope that this blog post finds everyone healthy and happy, and if not, choose to see the beauty in the world. It won’t show itself to you unless you are receptive enough to pay attention. Be mindful of the world and its’ energies and make it a better place. CHOOSE to be happy. CHOOSE to see beauty. Only you can make this happen for yourself.  Be the change you wish to see in the world. Those words were never as clear to me as they are now. It’s like I’m hearing them for the first time.

bethechange

What’s the point?

All those times of I said my life was getting better, I was manic. Feeling great. The higher they go, the harder I fall. I want to die now. I want to rip my heart of my chest and throw it in the garbage disposal. It hurts. Everything hurts. I hate my heart. I hate the way it makes me feel. It tricks me. I don’t know what to feel anymore.  I’m so stupid to get caught in the same traps over and over again. It’s the same shit it always is.

The 15 cognitive distortions, and their definitions. The links below also talk more about each disorder. When dealing with a mental illness. I do all of them, but the ones I seem to always fall back on are:

Emotional reasoning
Mind Reading
Mental Filter
All or Nothing Thinking

I’ve talked about Emma before, and I’ve recently seen her again. A lot lately.

I hurt so much. It seems like no one understands what this is like. I can’t talk to ANYONE who understands. I want to scream and self mutilate. I want to cut and bleed and feel real pain. I want to feel something other than emotional pain. Physical pain is a release. Death is a blessing.

I hate it. I hate feeling. Drug me or kill me. I can’t do it anymore. Once again, I can’t do it anymore.  I would rather be dead than feel the way I feel.

I put on the face. I pretend. I smile, it’s fake. “You ok?” “Sure. Yeah. I’m fine.” I play the part, I do my job the best I can. When I’m alone, I cry and panic and think about cutting and dying and ending the pain.

But somehow I don’t do it, and I get up in a huge mess and do it all over again. I torture myself by being alive. What’s the fucking point?! What is the end goal? Do I even have one? No. I don’t have an end goal. Because the end is to die. What is the point?Strong

One Day at a Time

Emotions. Why do we even have them? What’s the point? They just create unstable, unbalanced feelings that we act on, and then make decisions based on what we are feeling in that moment. Had a good day? Great, reward yourself with a high calorie, sweet treat from the ice cream store. Because that just makes things even better. Feeling depressed? To the bottle, yay! Feeling frustrated? Start a fight in a bar! Overwhelmed? Just throw your arms up and give up on life. Feeling sad? Mope and watch sappy, stupid movies while eating chocolate and drinking wine.. Alone.

Alright, maybe not everyone does those exact things, but I’m just saying we act on them. So, because when I’m overwhelmed, and possibly turning my entire life around AGAIN (yeah, I know. Sounds like me, right?), I take on a foster dog. I really like this kid, and if he fits in well in a month or so, he may just join my pack. I don’t know yet though. So far, he’s shown quite a bit of improvement in just a couple days. I’m on a roller coaster, and I can’t get off. So many things, so many situations, so many decisions. I can handle it, I can’t handle it. I’ll be ok, I’m going to puke. I think I’m almost off, then we start to go up again. And I wait for the fall. When does this end?! Overwhelmed, frustrated.

End of My Leash great Danes Aggressive

Haven and Tank (Boarding School clients)

I also just had a de ja vu experience with a great dane (yeah, another one. This has nothing to do with the breed, I promise) who reminded me a lot of Ryder’s situation. Her name is Haven. She is a beautiful black dane who is unpredictable around dogs, people, and sometimes food. When the owners were talking to me about her, I had a sinking feeling that reminded me of Ryder. It’s been almost a year since I put him to sleep. This new dog had similar traits that sent up red flags and made me take a step back. I observed, I did an evaluation on her, and still had a feeling about her. During the eval, she gave me absolutely no reason to feel like I couldn’t handle her. She was responsive, sensitive, and showed zero aggression towards me or the other dogs. I asked for advice from more experienced trainers, and I was told to let the past go, learn from it, and give her a shot. Try her out for a week. I still had a feeling about this, but it was only because of what the family was telling me. Feelings of … caution.

Anyway, I took her as a Boarding School client, and we started training. Two weeks (out of the four weeks she is supposed to be here) go by without an incident, and she is responding to training beautifully. One day, as I was letting the dogs out, our streak was broken. Over the course of two days, she went after four different dogs. The only warning I had was a feeling I had before letting her out of the kennel. No real warning signs that I could see. It isn’t like I haven’t handled ‘aggression’ before, but this is different. I wasn’t comfortable. And I was emotionally attached, and saw Ryder, not Haven. I called my trainer friend and explained the situation and said I couldn’t work with her – she was too much dog for me. I cannot begin to explain how guilty I felt. Thoughts of failure, guilt, sadness, loss, and how I had let down Ryder flooded me. I was again overwhelmed with a sense of complete failure. I couldn’t help this dog. I have been told time and time again I cannot save them all. It sucks when this happens, but it does happen. I know that, but it doesn’t suck any less, and I’m too fucking sensitive for my own good. So, feeling of heartbreak.

Project K9 Pitbull Foster Dogs

This is Rocko

Last time, I chose to continue working with Ryder, even though he was quite a bit of dog for me then. This time, I asked the owners to pick her up, and referred to another trainer. I handled it the best I could for the situation. It’s messy, and I feel like again – I couldn’t help. What if I had been training for 40 years, or if I was the best? Feelings of doubt.

So, now I’m here. Thinking about all of it again. Overanalyzing. Learning. Advancing. Yes, I have high standards, and for some reason, I feel like emotions make us weak.

So, I’m choosing another emotion. Numb. Let’s try that one for a while.

A Hard Decision

Ryder2I have done everything. I trained, I trained my heart out with this dog. I went to workshops, I learned more about how to handle dogs like him. I have seen other trainers, and used their expertise. I have worked with the family, and they have done everything.  It isn’t their fault. It isn’t my fault, I know that too. But I can’t help but feel like I failed.

We have done training, we have sought out other trainers’ advice, I tried to find the right home to adopt him, and I have tried to adopt him myself. He is SOOOO much better, but not good enough.  It is no one faults’ but the person who had him from when he was puppy.

They just tied him up in the backyard and left him there with little food. The first 2 years of his life he was set up to fail. We spent 8 months undoing 2 years of neglect. And he was set up to succeed from the beginning. However… hard core, intense training is exhausting and hard for the family. I’m so proud of them for sticking it out as long as they did.

We cannot adopt him out because of liability. I didn’t even think about this before, but because I am the trainer, I am an ‘expert’ in my field. I am supposed to fix everything and be able to have answers to everything. I have sought out help from another trainer friend in my area. She informed me of the problems of adopting out a dog like this. I was completely unaware of the risks and felt pretty naïve once I understand why I shouldn’t.

Here are the reasons why he should not be adopted out.

-He has received 8 months of training from yours truly. Whether the family discloses the information or not, I am legally responsible for the training he has received so far. Which means I am liable if anything happens.

-He has the potential to do a lot of damage in the wrong home. There are not a lot of ‘right’ homes for dogs like Ryder. Someone will need to be home at least 70% of the time for training. No cats, no kids, and the family must have experience with difficult or aggressive dogs in the past.  The family must understand this is a difficult dog and potentially dangerous.

-Putting Ryder in a home that isn’t 100% perfect is setting him up to fail.

-Training him for another year or even a few years is not a guarantee he will get better. It’s just a recommendation. Meaning the current family or a new family could continue training forever, but he may not get better.

-Even if he does benefit from another 2-3 years of intense training, he is nearing the end of his Great Dane life at that point, and then won’t be able to experience what hard-earned freedom is like. His whole life will be spent with intense training. (Since Great Danes only live to be about 6-8 years old).

So, after many discussions with other trainers, the family, and my husband, we have all agreed this is the best decision and in his best interest to euthanize Ryder. This decision was not taken lightly and we have been discussing this since I took him to the Difficult Dog workshop. It was an option then, and now it is becoming a reality.

I am really struggling with this decision, and I still am. He isn’t sick, he doesn’t have a disease, but at the same time.. he can be dangerous in the wrong situation. And because he is a big dog, he is also harder to physically restrain if needed (which in the case of an inexperienced home, people tend to use physical strength as a training tool). This is not a good position for Ryder to be in – because he will bite.

Please understand, the family and I have talked at length about this decision and it really is the best thing. I don’t want to have to justify this decision over and over again. I don’t like explaining everything because it makes me want to throw up. It makes me want to be put down with him because I am a horrible person for letting this happen.  But inside, I know I’m not and I’ve done everything.

Ryder will be put to sleep at 4:30 on Friday afternoon. I will be with him, along with his doggie dad. I am going to spend some time with him today and let him know how much he is loved and that he won’t have to worry about anything anymore. He will be able to run free and play all he wants soon. The training will end and he will be free to do what he pleases at Rainbow Bridge.