It’s a strange thing, when you decide to face your fear.
I know that in some ways it can be a good thing, however there are times when fear itself has a firm grip and I am left feeling unready for the excursion.
My fears this particular morning, may seem be quite a simple thing to others. Yet bring such fear in myself as to bring on a panic attack of such magnitude that it sets the irritable bowel off on it’s merry way again. All that brought on by the mere thought of doing something which we feel we cannot possibly do. I do not understand how it can have such a devastating effect on us. I feel the need to berate myself for being so silly about it in the cold light of day.
Yesterday I awoke in the early hours and thought about brushing the dog, such a simple task you might think. However it is not for me. In 2012 I was attacked by 2 Dogs, the first was one which we were considering re-homing. After we had spent 2 months with him around us, settling him in as part of the family, he attacked both my Partner and I for attempting to put a lead on him to take him for a walk. It was totally unexpected, but this was something that we had not done, since his current owner had always put his lead on for him. He had been in our home during the day for several weeks, we had all walked together along with our dog regularly. I had also taken both dogs out on my own, without issue. He had stayed for the weekend and even slept on our bed. But suddenly he turned on him and bit my partner’s hand down to the bone and sunk his teeth into my thigh when I tried to split them up and get my partner out of the way to safety. Suddenly this very large cuddly puppy reacted like a monster, he was heavy and very strong and we had to rethink, although we gave him another chance other circumstances forced our decision not to take him on. A few months later, a random dog went for my one over the playing fields and again I got in the middle, to protect on this occasion my baby. It resulted in my being maimed a hospital stay and two operations. (and so much more that I won’t go into here)
So for the reasons I have already mentioned, I am now hesitant to be in with my beloved and very large dog, in a confined space for the three hours it will take me to brush his coat. Since the accident I have avoided this for as long as possible and it is simply not fair to him. He has a very long coat, with several undercoats and moults twice a year. These are major moults which shed like tumbleweed all over the house and garden. At times this has me thinking that I would rip up all the carpets, the only thing stopping me is I actually like carpet underfoot. So I have persisted with it in the house. Now that the warmer weather has definitely arrived, he is shedding his winter coat all over the place. I need to take action. I have always bathed him with my partners help, he loves water so much that it has to be a joint effort to hold him in one place for long enough. I have always brushed him myself, believing that it strengthens the bond between us. He has never been to a professional groomer and I cannot afford to take him to a professional to get him washed and brushed now. I don’t actually know how he would react at this new thing now he is five years old. He’s always been a bit funny about his bits. But I have always brushed him nevertheless. He doesn’t like it much, under sufferance, he will relent and let me brush him until he goes to sleep and then wonders why I have to continue. He is not a willing accomplice and these days I muzzle him for the duration, which is torture in itself, since he wonders what he has done before we have even started. He growls at me when he has had enough and this is why he wears the muzzle, just in case. He can look very fierce when he is growly and I find it disconcerting in a confined space, although I am Mummy and generally boss he is after all a dog and doesn’t like being cornered.
As I merely thought about brushing him, since I was due to have an afternoon where my Partner is out, I had thought it might be the ideal time. But then I felt that familiar tightness in my chest, building up to an almost insane level where I could not breathe. The pressure in my ears thudding around my head and my pulse quickening. This went on for some time and then I started to feel a numbness up my legs. I tried for a moment to change my thinking, calm thoughts but it was just too late, it seemed to have taken hold of me. After trying to kick it out of my head with meditation, I was able to calm down but for a while, the terror reigned. I lost all rational thought, a mind full of what ifs….
He is my baby and I love him so much. He wandered into the room, took one look at me and turned and left, in one look probably told him what I was thinking, it was a complete dead loss, I had no chance of brushing him that day. Thoughts of that day almost two years ago returning to me had rendered me incapable of taking care of him properly, a full blown panic attack and the stress making itself apparent in so many ways, headache, shaking sweating and an upset stomach being just a part of the experience.
I will man up and face the fear, I have to. But It might take a few attempts and I might have a half brushed dog in the meantime.