Last night’s session with Gizmo was awesome. The next-door neighbor came to sit out on her balcony and watch us. Her three very large dogs came with her. The neighbor beside her was out in his front yard, alternately barbecuing and visiting with his family – which included a very large chocolate lab and several children ranging in age from babies to about 4 years old. Not only did Gizmo do a phenomenal job practicing self-control when he had to deal with those triggers, but, for the first time, he gave his owner trust by doing his best to stay focused on her. It was a huge leap of progress for him, and for Chelsea. She didn’t realize what was happening because she was focusing on controlling her own anxiety – which was a huge leap of progress for her, too.
Chelsea gets very anxious with Gizmo. She is terrified that the situation that resulted in Gizmo’s injury will happen again, and that her responses will be the same. This anxiety is then transferred to him through the leash, which she tends to hold very tightly and as far up as possible. When she does that, Gizmo responds by pulling ahead of her and then becoming extremely reactive towards everything and everyone that comes too close to them or looks at them for too long. Chelsea represents weak and unstable energy, and Gizmo has no choice but to take the lead.
Although it’s only been three sessions, Chelsea is making great progress learning how to be aware of what she’s feeling, and learning how to take control of those emotions. She’s learning that she is the source of Gizmo’s reactivity, and that the only option she has with him is to become calm, and stay calm. In return, Gizmo is working hard to look to her for direction and to stay focused on her no matter what’s going on around them. He is trying to give her trust.
Gizmo and Chelsea both have a very long way to go in their rehabilitation. But they both are making tremendous progress, and as long as Chelsea puts in the time and energy to keep working on herself and with Gizmo, that progress will continue.
Have a great day, and remember to stay calm and lead on.