George the Therapy Dog

Some weeks are like that – yes?

I’ve had a rough couple of weeks at work lately. Things have been happening that are beyond my control and I’m left feeling like I am hanging from a trapeze wire by my fingertips. This sense of helplessness makes me go a bit inwards and lose my sense of self. The world becomes narrow and grey and I find it hard to focus.

To keep connected to the world, I have to keep doing all the things that feel good and right. I need to keep going to dance class and laughing with my friends. I have to keep going to the gym, no matter how grim I feel on first wakening. I have to eat healthy. I am an emotional eater aka when I feel crap = I will eat that whole pack of cookies and wash it down with half a bottle of wine. Then I feel even worse.

I have to go to work everyday, smile and behave like everything is fine and dandy!

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But most of all I need to hug my dog  George . He’s a therapy dog. I’ve written about him in previous posts here and here and also here. We have volunteered at aged care homes; childcare centers; schools and universities. George has worked with Psychologists to help children overcome their fear of dogs. He is a lovely, gentle and beautiful dog. He absolutely knows when things are not right with me and he will just quietly snuggle up with me and make sure I am ok.

image of my heart
so true!

Therapy Animals

BlossomAre the best. There is a lot of research on animals and their positive impact on people.  I read an article  last week about a prison in Indiana having inmates look after shelter cats. This was hands down the best thing I read all week and helped pulled me out of my funk. If nothing else, look at the pics – those cats!! If prison is to be rehabilitative as well as punitive, having programs whereby inmates can participate in something that connects them back to the world, that is a good thing.

 

 

I think I’ve been orange-flagged, maybe.

single orange flag CC

Warning flags and dating

After years of dating and some spectacular relationship fails, I think I’m a bit of an expert on red flag behavior. I can pick up on player tactics, commitment phobes, gas-lighters, bitter & twisted-haven’t-gotten-over-their-ex guys and hustlers that want to push you into a full-on relationship before their sketchy façade slips right down. One guy I was seeing earlier this year kicked my dog. Yep, he kicked my dog. So that’s a hell no right there!

I’ve spent many hours with my girlfriends (and guy friends) talking about red-flag behavior. People who lie about their age (men & women are equally guilty of this), that always baffles me, for sure you’ll be found out. For my guy friends their red-flag issues are women who not only lie about their age, but also their appearance – usually pics on dating sites, you know the photo of you that was taken 15 years ago? Yeah, that one. Just don’t.

Me – flagged? No. Really?

However, I did not consider that I would be flag-worthy (or should that be un-worthy?). I tend to see myself as a reasonably nice human being, with some (minor) failings, but generally good relationship potential. Seriously, I am so convinced that I would not set off anyone’s flag radar, that it came as a shock on the weekend that maybe I do! Yeah, I know – get my ego back in check. Ouch!

Family of Origin

big sis and I
Big sis and I

And it’s funny (not laugh out loud funny, but peculiar funny) because it’s a flag that I think of as amber/orange too, but had never applied it to myself. It’s not enough to stop seeing the person, but something to keep in mind. And that is family of origin issues.

I have found that guys who have had fraught relationships with their parents and/or siblings can be tricky to deal with, mostly if they have not resolved and moved on from childhood issues. Research (here & here) indicates that family of origin conflict may impact on future relationship behavior.

The guy I started seeing recently did mention early on that he considered women as ‘orange-flag’ if they have issues with their family. That made me prick my ears, pause and think “huh…” So on the weekend I thought I’d talk a little about my family of origin with him (issues abound for sure, well not issues, more like the definition of ‘dysfunctional’ was invented for my family!)

talk about it - don't talk about it

Before starting in on the convo, I did ask him about his ‘orange-flag’ comment. He clarified that in his experience it was definitely a warning flag, however he did not get a “bitter” vibe from me. Nonetheless, I shut down the conversation at that point.

There is no bitter vibe, I’m not even sure that there ever would have been, it’s far deeper than that. Plus, I feel I have dealt with things as much as I can and I have a reasonable amount of self-awareness. However, I thought maybe another time we can talk, but for now and until he knows me better and understands who I am as a person, I’ll keep my orange-flaggedness to myself for a little while longer!

orange flag CC

…pet therapy

I read a while back that owning a dog encourages people to exercise more… which somehow does not surprise me – especially when my dog George gives me those sad puppy eyes and is all like “so, hey human – walk me?!?” or when I get home from a rough day at work and he’s bouncing all over the place in total joy that I’m home…

cat tree
who said dogs can’t climb!!

He’s actually a certified therapy dog and we volunteer at a dementia residence on weekends and he’s also an ”approved wellness activity” at the university where I work. The students and staff love him*

He’s a fixture during exam time and he helps students de-stress before they go into their exams. He has his own facebook page and he gets messages from students and staff to come visit and hang out with them for a while. I even put up a fb status recently saying my dog had the exact same number of friends as me and right up two of my friends went and friend requested him to make sure he was in the lead!! 

…and more George at his Facebook page 🙂

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* side note: George is a spoodle (or cockerpoo in the US!) a spaniel/poodle cross and low allergy because he doesn’t shed hair and as his handler I’m careful when I notice people who are uncomfortable around dogs.