Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Slight meltdown

The last few days have been a bit rough. It cumulated in a mini breakdown yesterday with me being teary over a lesson I just never seem to grasp fully--being less self-critical of myself and continuing to blame myself for the problem.

Here's the background information. Work has been busy. We had to delay our opening due to some issues out of our control with the building. Though some of our clients have been a little upset with us and are eager for the facility to open, I still have a lot of work to do with powerpoints and documents. This is on top of the already more than dozen or so documents I've come up with since November for basic policies and procedures. Anyone doing this type of work knows that it is a time consuming process, and when it is just one person, it can feel overwhelming at times. We have another office person, but her tasks are different than mine.

So suffice to say, I think I have been a little stressed in general which just escalated any nuance of a problem. On Monday, we had our photos taken for the new website. I knew about this for a week, but was dreading it. Part of this was due to my face looking more round and chunkier. It also seemed that every time I looked in the mirror, a new zit popped up which left me with caking more cover up than usual.

The photo shoot itself went okay. The photographer is a client of my boss's whom she is very fond with. This was my first time meeting this guy, and I was not that impressed. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt that I just need to know him better, but there is some hesitancy as my boss would like to bring him on board with us at the facility.

Afterwards, we let their two Aussies meet Tovah. Now, Tovah does great with dogs once she has met them. Over the last few months, she has become more barky and aroused when meeting other dogs. She doesn't do anything to them, but there is definitely an uncertainty. After several minutes, she settles, and either the dogs play, or they just kind of coexist on fine terms. I've begun working on this issue with her, but it still distresses me like any owner with a dog issue problem.

And it just seemed heightened with these two Aussies and this owner. One of the Aussies was very friendly, came to everyone. She is a certified therapy dog. The other Aussie was stand offish and the guy just kept showing off all his tricks with her. He made a comment that the dogs didn't know what to do with Tovah's barking and were uncomfortable.

I probably should not have but I took it a bit personal. Then, yesterday my boss (I think I've been calling her A.) wants to discuss a new policy we are placing when the doors open with a "no barking" policy. She's said this from the get go, so I knew she wanted to instill this (it's doable but can be difficult too), but again, I took it personal. Logically, I know it wasn't, and A. reiterated that, but I felt upset by it.

It's one of those issues where you have put a lot of worked and invested in a dog and you want them to be the best possible (not saying perfect here). I've tried to ensure that she was incredibly socialized to many different things, so this barking issue feels like a failure to me, like somehow I should have nipped it in the bud right when I saw it. Her barking is in no way horrible, I've seen much worse, it's just my standard in a sense that I would rather her not do this when meeting other dogs, especially if I want her to be able to do other social things in life where dogs are involved.

A. reminded me that if I had gotten Tovah yesterday, I'd see the issue differently, like this was a problem to work on and would have had a training plan in place already. While this is likely true, it feels different when it is a dog you have raised from puppyhood. There is a feeling of how can I not blame myself?

But that's just the thing. No matter how much you may have worked on raising and training a dog, doing everything to a T, it does not guarantee that something will arise to cause a problem. It's just like someone with an eating disorder history who has a child and has tried their darnest to prevent their child from developing an eating disorder. They may do all the right things in not talking about weight, physical appearance, not dieting, giving lots of positive feedback to their child for their achievements, help their child develop a strong sense of self-esteem and confidence and still their child may wind up with an eating disorder. There's a lot of factors there, both in genetics and environment (in this case outside forces). All we can do is our best in prevention and if an ED arises to address it and work through it.

I know this but have a hard time putting it together when it comes to my own dogs. A. told me that I was probably the only person she knew you took something personal so personal, meaning how much I self-criticized myself for it. She, herself, a percfectionist understands this.

Though I left logically knowing all this, I still felt lousy, cried in my car, etc. Parts of me feel really stupid that I'm upset over something like this, but just like I've told many people, including bloggers, I am human and have feelings and need to stop criticizing myself for that. It's always hard to follow your own advice though.

If you have not read Tovah's story, you can do so here and here. At some point, I''ll have links to tags, so it'll be easier to just click that link.


Sarah said...

I'm glad you have an outlet like blogging so you can vent about things like this. I, too, would feel personally hurt, even though I'm sure the policy wasn't aimed at you (the guy's comments sound insensitive and rude, however!) When my parents criticized Java's lack of potty training when we visited, I had a really hard time not taking it personally because she IS potty trained at our house--she just didn't understand how to communicate that she needed to go when she was in a new setting, and couldn't get the hang of going while leashed on snowy ground when she usually goes without a leash in our warm backyard...PLUS my parents refused to put their dog's food elsewhere so Java wasn't on her usual schedule! I had told my mom not to get the carpets professionally cleaned before we came and she did anyway, then she got annoyed that Java had a few accidents. It was really hard for me not to take their criticism of my dog personally because it DOES feel like a personal assault on your training time, methods, etc, and dogs feel like our children. We don't expect them to be perfect, so it hurts when other people hold them to that standard and criticize us for our dogs' "failures," when they are probably trying their best to adjust to a new scenario. I'm so sorry this happened! Plus, I think your face is pretty :) I know that probably doesn't help very much, but I wanted to tell you that anyway.

Good luck with getting all the forms done. PS, have you thought about using other similar businesses' forms as a template? D does that all the time for mission trip applications, release forms, etc. and it has been a real time-saver for him :)

Stina said...

I loved how you compared training your dog to parents of those with an eating disorder - it's easy for everyone to feel it must be their fault! But, like with eating disorders, Tovah has a mind of her own and her own personality and has every right to feel anxious around dogs with rude owners :) I know how easy it might seem to feel the blame for her barking, but she's not attacking people - she's not harming anyone - she's loving and beautiful and you can take pride in that!

Tiptoe said...

Sarah, thanks for understanding. I'm sorry that your parents upset you with their comments. I've had similar situations like that happen before even with Tovah at other people's houses when she was younger.

My dad used to do the same thing with me when he was in town. If my dogs did not do a behavior I asked or a behavior I did not like, my dad would always say, "well, you're the dog trainer, fix it." It used to drive me crazy. For awhile, he called me the "dog nazi" which was always hurtful.

Sometimes, parents and other people just don't understand about dogs completely. Even in explaining, it takes them awhile to get it if at all.

Stina, I appreciate your comment. I was just thinking about the fact that no, she wasn't biting people or attacking dogs, or anything like that. It could be far worse. I have to remember these perspectives.