Anxiety And The Dog
“When you hear hoofbeats coming down the street, think horse – not zebra.”J.C.Peters
My dog Banksy and I both have anxiety. I can’t decide if that makes him the best dog or the worst dog for me. We live in Venice with a lot of scooters, bikes and dogs running free on the beach. He is fine as long as I carry him. I don’t think that he is well equipped with coping mechanisms.
Banksy is very excited to go in the car because it means he is not being left to fend for himself alone. Every time he gets in the car he has a panic attack. The heavy breathing, panting and crying begins. He is in the car a lot. If i open the window and he can look out, it is better. Is he claustrophobic as well?
Banksy also has a lot of fears of things that don’t really present any harm to him. At the moment he is afraid to walk on the wood floors in the house. He must have slipped and now the light reflection looks to him like we are on thin ice. If he has to walk he does it very slowly and carefully. I have to walk first to show him that its safe. Today we came home and the plumber was in the house. He wouldn’t walk in and ran down the stairs as if to say “Save yourself.” I realize now that all the barking he does when someone comes over is really just him falling into psychological chaos.
I have different fears but just as strong. Writing is a way to accept and work through the turbulences of life. Mindfulness helps – being in the here and now keeps my thoughts from looping down a bottomless pit to nowhere. Deep breathing, Qi Gong and sunset on the beach help a lot.
The funny thing about Banksy is that he can’t ask me what’s wrong but he knows when I’m in trouble and will shower me with affection to let me know things will be OK. If I begin to panic, I just look down and there is a wagging tail ready to distract me from my anxiety trigger. He also knows that I will pick him up if he is scared. The bond between someone and their dog is unique. We may be two completely different species, but we have a mutual understanding that we will take care of each other.