My dog, Niko, is a little bit awkward with other dogs - or so we thought.
Niko absolutely adores people, all people! But, he came from a shelter with this label of "dog aggressive." I never liked having a label on my sweet, cuddly, human-loving pup. But, truthfully, with dogs he's always seemed timid. And, because he's a pitbull-boxer mix, I've always been nervous to drop the leash, knowing that if there was an altercation, even if he didn't start it, my dog would be the dog found at fault.
So, when I injured my back (all is clear now) last week, we had to find some activity that was lower intensity. My boyfriend suggested we go to the dog beach. I was so excited about the idea, but also curious and a little nervous to see how Niko would do with all the other dogs.
When we got to the Dog Beach it was full of happy dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds. We kept Niko on the leash. He whined. He cowered behind us. Tim and I walked around for a full two hours just to build his confidence. Then, Tim said, "Let's just walk him in and sit in the middle. I bet he'll be fine."
That's what we did. We walked Niko to the middle of the group and just sat. Dogs walked up and sniffed and walked away. Some dogs dipped their heads low and wagged their tails high, looking mischievous, asking Niko to play. Niko's tension began to disappear. Then, something incredible happened. I just dropped the leash. Niko came alive. His confidence soared. At first he trotted around, head held high. Then, he actually PLAYED with other dogs. When littler dogs nipped at him or bigger dogs intimidated him, he just barked back and walked away. Niko was a dog. He fell into the social norms easily. Of course, Tim and I were still nervous, cautiously anticipating his moves. But, he was fine!
If, dogs can be themselves when we stop putting labels on them, I wonder if humans might be the same. I'm a yogi. I'm a marketing professional. I'm a worker. I'm a boss. I'm fat. I'm skinny. What molds do you force yourself in? Even if it seems positive, a label is a label. It influences your behavior.
To preserve my authenticity, from now on, I'm not anything. But, if I must "be" something, I'm a dog. I balk at labels. I live in the moment. I am totally adaptable. I'm me.
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Bend Into Shape
For people who love dogs, yoga, good food and/or great parties ... that covers everyone right?