First, I miss you and Laura. Second, I need some advice about my dog Rocket. I have a new boyfriend (Jim), first boyfriend in a long time, and I’m crazy about him. But Rocket doesn’t want us to be intimate or even affectionate. Normally a silent, calm boy, Rocket barks and growls in distress and comes to me to be comforted when we get romantic. I had a lover when Rocket first came to live with me, and Rocket never acted this way with him. Is there any way I can help Rock feel more relaxed and at ease with Jim?
By the way, I love hearing your wise thoughts and seeing your picture in Laura’s posts.
Dear Lorna and Rocket,
I am sorry to hear of Rocket’s distress. Sometimes animals pick up their humans’ feelings about people and situations. Is it possible that you and Jim are a little nervous about falling in love? Maybe Rocket can feel this and is mirroring your anxiousness around trust. I feel like humans and animals are like if they have been wounded in the past. Some flee, some fight, and some are really brave and will stick it out. We need to tell Rocket that he can be brave and stick it out. You want to picture what brave looks like. Maybe it is lying down on a special blanket or sitting next to you calmly.
If you feel like Jim is really a good man, tell Rocket that you want him to feel safe around Jim and that he should lick, yawn, and blink his eyes to comfort himself. Maybe you could even give him a bone at this time. You and Jim should start with little hand holding or kissing and praise Rocket for short quiet episodes. Do not hug and cuddle Rocket too much during the times he gets anxious. We do not want him to learn that if he barks you will then turn your attention to him.
Animals can have posttraumatic stress where something about a new situation reminds them of a traumatic issue in their past. It is important for Rocket to be very conscious during these moments. I love positive affirmations to help beings to be present. We use them all the time in our family. You could say, “We are all happy. Be in love. Lick and yawn. I feel good inside my self.” You may say it out loud or in your head picturing and feeling everything you say. Also say, “Jim is our friend. Look, I am kissing Jim, and I am happy.” So that he understands that you are happy. You could tell Rocket that you are going to play with him while teaching him to that it is okay for you to be affectionate with Jim. You could play with him or take him out on a walk and slowly get closer to Jim. You could play the clicker training game where every time Rocket is calm when you touch Jim he gets a click and treat. You want to make Jim and being close to you a really cool thing.
In your private moments, talk to Rocket about your feelings towards Jim, how much you care for him, and even your fears. Tell him how much you want him to be good with Jim, and please tell Rocket for me that I think he is a really cool dog and that sometimes what we think we know we don’t know at all. Sometimes even the smartest dogs make mistakes. Tell him to trust his heart and when in doubt watch. When you watch instead of reacting, sometimes you realize that what you were going to do make no sense at all. It is best to be patient and wait until you can calmly make a decision. When you make a decision when you have adrenaline, stress, anger, or worry, it is usually a bad decision.
Tell Rocket it is okay if he goes farther away and watches. It is good to get a greater perspective. Tell him his behavior bothers you, and if he tries a different behavior he might find he enjoys that behavior more. Tell him to go wait through the uncomfortable feelings until he can be calm and watchful. Tell him when all else fails take a nap. Maybe when you wake up you will feel better.
Lorna we love you!
Peace to you, Rocket, and Jim.
Stormy, aka Storm King, is a 14½-year-old Australian shepherd. His person is Laura Stinchfield, the pet psychic of ThePetPsychic.com.
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