Developing Your Confidence as a Pet Owner

Recently, I was chatting with a friend. Who, like me, has pets. Who, also like me, is a damn good obedience instructor. Do we have different methods? Do we see things differently sometimes? Oh Gods, yes. Do we respect them and learn from each other? More than occasionally.

Anyway..we’re chatting..and she says to me..’I wish I had your confidence to go out there and say ‘this is what I look like today, and this is what I’m doing with my pets today, take it or leave it.’

After the surprise wore dawned on me to say something..but..instead..

I kept my mouth shut.. I don’t want to conversationally slap someone over something they are sensitive about..but I wanted to say..’You may want the confidence, but I know you wouldn’t be willing to go through what I did to get there.’

The thing of it is..she isn’t. and I know this..and it’s quite one thing for me to know it..but quite another for me to actually come right out and say it.

But that conversation, and my just barely held back remarks.. led me to wanting to make a blog post on developing your confidence as a pet I am.

It goes like this:

Developing confidence as a pet owner..really isn’t that much different than getting shocked and humiliated one time too many and finally telling a chronic pain management doctor to go f*** himself when he comes up with a pain management plan that would only work for a junkie.

In developing confidence as a pet owner, you’re expecting..and in some cases, demanding, that a pet honor that you, the owner, have the final say in what’s going on. Kind of like taking an active role in your own health care.

Of course, I did not come to this wonderful realization overnight. Oh no..I went through a boatload of doubt and pain and uncertainty first.

As pet owners, and just as plain old people, we all get insecurity and sometimes, somehow we fail our pets.. and/or ourselves.

Eventually, if we’re observant and gutsy and get calm and clear on what we want and state it, we get it right. ..and pets..and some people.. are mighty forgiving. Even as they’re sitting there giving us the look that says ‘what took you so long’?

If nothing else..remember this: Love covers a great many mistakes and mis-perceptions of judgement.

How do I know this?

Years ago, I had an accident that necessitated my face being put back together. I adopted a dog out of the shelter because I became a wimp that just wanted to go out and see the sun..but I didn’t want to do it alone.

My heart still breaks for the younger version of me that was too scared to leave the house because I felt insecure and ugly, because my face was swollen, and I was hurting..or I was plastered on pain meds. Or all of the above. To say I had no confidence in myself in any way, shape or form was an understatement.

Things came to a head the day my own dog, in a fit of disrespect, bit me.

That’s right about the time I started to wake up to the indignities I was facing and was somehow expecting myself to be OK with, and started saying ‘no’ and getting some confidence back. Being bitten by my own dog was just the last straw with being such a coward.

It so happened that I was off to pain management again shortly after that incident.

Now, at the time, pain management didn’t have nearly the organization it does now. So I wound up seeing 2 different doctors. One informed me that I was going to be a basket case the rest of my life and handed me a handful of prescriptions for different pills, in amounts that would have taken down a good sized elephant. It was, in short, a regimen that only a junkie could love. I’ll spare you the exact wording of the conversation, but I will say that I dropped the wimp that I’d become, on the spot and told the doc to f*** himself because I wasn’t taking that many pills. Things went downhill from there.

The second doctor actually gave me the beginnings of a way out of pain that didn’t involve a shitload of drugs. There were still some drugs for awhile as the bones in my face moved around–I won’t lie, it hurt like a sonofabitch and I was suitably grateful for the meds I did take..but I wasn’t nearly as out of it as I would have been with the regimen prescribed by the doc that I told off.

So! In the meantime, I was lucid enough to watch my face change appearance almost every day. You have no idea how much something like that messes with your mind, your confidence and your sense of self until you go through it. Back I went to not wanting to leave the house..but..I had a dog to walk now.

Imagine if you will..waking up and not knowing what you will look like until you look in the mirror..all you know for sure is that your face is going to hurt and you are not going to look like you did yesterday and you’re going to have to put on your grown up panties and deal with it by yourself because the dog has to go out.

and so I did.

It took some time, but eventually I got used to the idea. and eventually, I became OK about how, no, I did not know what I was going to look like today, and that no, I didn’t know what face I was going to present to the world..but if other people had a problem with that, that was their issue and not mine–I’d put on some makeup if need be, but that was as far as I was going.

In the meantime, I still had a dog to deal with. She was rather a big girl. But I was determined that we were not going to have another biting incident. She was going to respect me as a human..and her owner. And that was all there was to it. and if other folks were shocked by my appearance so be it. I had other things to do than compete for the title of Miss Sensitive and Miss Politically Correct.

and so I left the house. and I concentrated on being the best damn dog owner and trainer and all around person that I could be and to hell with the rest.

My dog and I spent hours out doing training and play and bonding and all sorts of other things. I did not get upset when she tested me..and test me she did.

Eventually..and eventually is the operative word here, I came to realize that me being a pet owner or a professional or just a person.. wasn’t about the face or title I presented to the was about me being what I needed to be, and it was about what was coming from me, from the inside..and something else I realized, while I was at it, was that other people were far too caught up in themselves to pay a whole lot of attention to my swollen face anyway.

So I kept at it–I kept going out and did what needed doing training wise and I kept what needed doing personally and professionally, even though I was morally certain (and more than once) that I looked like the second cousin to Quasimodo (Hunchback of Notre Dame) and the best I could carry off makeup wise was powder blush and a little lipstick to soften the blow to the public. It wasn’t easy.

..but I pulled it off.

..and that’s how I got my confidence as a pet owner. I started off wanting to be able to go outside and not wanting to be bitten by my own dog..and wound up being able to say..

‘Here I am..take me or leave me..I’m not worried either way..and yes, my dog is very well trained; thank you for noticing’.

and that’s a liberating place to be.

I hope other pet owners get that kind of confidence..but..ya know what?

I wouldn’t wish facial reconstruction on anyone. Y’all can skip that part, ‘k?


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