Sitting down to write this, I am about to say how things seemed to have calmed since our nasty incident with the ball of fury, aka shouty man with dog. As I start to type I change where I was sitting and Cauta erupts in a barking frenzy… Say what? Just when you think things are rolling along, he throws a curveball. Why barking? Holding my hands and shoulders up to this one, at this point I just don’t know.
Things have been up and down here, his routine has changed. A few days ago my mum came to stay, we prepared meticulously for this, arranging her to send her scarf on before, so Cauta would find her scent familiar, working out how she would meet him first, out on a walk, making sure he had a safe space in the house to go to if he felt uncomfortable.
However, at precisely the same time mum appears the neighbours decide to excavate their garden, and Cauta doesn’t know what to do with himself. Barking and pacing ensues. We ultimately spend the night up with him, as he has the runs. On the street at 3am in pyjamas was not in the plan. Nor was him having an impromptu jolly round the deserted streets, when I blearily drop his lead while trying to mop up liquid poo from the pavement. A sick feeling twirls in my stomach when I realise he has trotted off. But then he appears back as soon as I whistle, looking very pleased with himself and his unauthorized absence. A very sleep deprived weekend was had.
But, during the visit he was able to accept mum and we found an exhilarating walk by the river. He was able to greet other dogs without jumping on them in excitement, and he even engaged in some ball squishing/throwing games. So again, swings and roundabouts.
We worked with Roz Pooley , ‘The Mutty Professor’ on handling him on the long line with others, and since this we notice a change, he is less likely to charge headlong toward others, and more likely to use a calming signal of sitting or lying down. He seems more in control of his body somehow. Able to nimbly jump over the smaller dogs rather than flattening them. Much to our relief. It appears more thinking space has been opened up in his mind, where he can still hear us and he can listen to his canine companions. We hold on to this in the hope it grows. Of course, some outings are better than others, but hopefully there is an upward trajectory…
We also have a way to think through these encounters now, rather than the fog of anxiety descending, and resorting to clutching on the lead. We have choices and so does he. We wait longer for him and the trust seems to be reciprocal. He looks at us more, really looks. While working on eye contact with him it brings into stark contrast how much eye contact humans give in everyday life. How this currency is so powerful, yet can sometimes seem rare. Eye contact, as in, making contact, is a powerful thing in any species. Perhaps there is a fear to see what could be in the other’s eyes.
And some things are unknowable, no matter how much I observe, wonder, reflect, link and think about what may be happening for Cauta, I can never really know what is going on inside his mind, and why he does things. The process of coming alongside him is not always easy.
Cauta, as drawn by Judith at the Green Rocket café.
With thanks to Roz and all her wise words.