Avila has me thinking about life differently these days. Something in her past traumatized her and it impacts our relationship today.
We were told she was a stray.
While that may have been her truth as she made her way into the shelter, it is apparent she was once a house dog.
Avila is a quick learner. She has mastered the routines of life in our household. Joseph and Rayann will tell you about how routines are essential. Chances are they will speak of it with an eye roll or while exhaling their breath, but they understand.
Avila has mastered the morning and nighttime routine of putting on and removing her collar. She has learned that each time of day means we are living within a different space.
Early mornings mean breakfast in my study and then time on her dog bed.
Noonish is an opportunity to go upstairs and use the dog door to explore the great outdoors.
Evenings are spent alternating from “her chair” to the floor. She knows that couches and all other chairs are off-limits. She has “her chair,” and she loves to sleep the evenings away in it.
Owen’s Safe Space
Avila has also learned that Rayann’s room is off-limits. That is Owen’s safe space. Owen can go in there and hide from his “sister.” Avila will stand in the doorway to Rayann’s room, quietly inviting Owen out to play. I have found her lying down just outside the room, stretched across the hallway until Owen decides he is ready for some fun.
Signs of Trauma
Avila may have been a stray, but she also learned some things before her time on the street.
She also had some difficult experiences.
Avila will run to greet me just about everywhere. The only exceptions are my two recliners.
I have a recliner in my study and one in the living room. When I am sitting in either of those chairs, Avila avoids me. She walks past with her head down and constantly keeps an eye on me.
If I go to raise or lower the footrest, she jumps up and runs across the room. It is not a joyful run. She is cowering, tail between her legs.
Someone, some man, did not treat her well. Avila is traumatized by that relationship, and it has impacted our relationship.
When Avila first came to be with us, she hung her head, kept her tail between her legs, and slunk her way towards me every time I called her. She was expecting to be hurt.
Over time she learned that far from being hurt, she would receive love and affection from me.
Today she rushes to my side, tail wagging and whole body shaking with excitement unless I am in a recliner.
Something about a recliner holds images of bad things in her mind. It causes her to act out of character and keep her distance. If our relationship took place only when I was in a recliner, it would be a struggle. [Read more…]