In this series I am going to share my year long adventures with my new puppy, Phineas.
I've never had a puppy before. I have always had cats. In fact we still do have two cats which have been quite the emotional support animals for me these past two years as I've been on my healing journey. Now with the recommendation of my doctor and therapist, a mTBI and PTSD (and some help from a professional trainer), I am going to take my new puppy (a Cavalier King Charles) to service dog. Cavaliers are known to be great psychiatric service dogs and have been shown to be very effective in helping people who struggle with anxiety, depression and PTSD.
I'll be learning right along with him how to navigate this big, scary world. One of the aspects of my symptoms is social anxiety. I can put on a brave face and fake that I am OK at the grocery store or any store where I would shop. However, I am frozen where I am when it comes to almost any other social situation. In fact, if I'm out and see even just two or three people gathered together I feel afraid. I typically need to know where I am going is familiar and safe. Which is new to me because I've always been quite the adventurer before the accident. Phineas will prevent me from being a "shut-in" and get me out to see the world again. Grounding me and helping me feel safe. It's certainly a lot better than a grown woman carrying a teddy bear!
There are many new aspects of who I am now that I need to get to know and become friends with, just as I am becoming friends with Phineas. So as I move forwards in this new adventure, I am going to share with you all the good times, the struggles and everything in between as we journey down this new road together.
I will be practicing Mindful Self C.A.R.E each step of the way and including Mindful & Restorative Yoga as well. These have been two essential parts of what has helped me be so successful on this healing journey. Lucy & Katie (my cats), as well as my family have been the other. Phineas (puppy) is the latest addition.
So join us and subscribe as Phineas goes from puppy to service dog this year, and I learn how to navigate this new life with a TBI & PTSD.
Week One with Phineas
Boy do I have a lot to learn and Adjust to. I knew having a puppy was like having an infant but I didn't realize it would take quite this much out of me. Yes having a new puppy is exhausting for anyone, doing this on your own with no prior experience, only YouTube videos to help guide the way, and all the symptoms that go along with my life now feels impossible. I have been asking myself daily if we did the right thing having a new puppy. Should we have continued to wait for an older more experienced dog? Should we have waited until I was at the 3 year milestone?
But each time I ask myself those questions, I look into his beautiful face and know he was meant to be with me. So far we have been bonding. We are playing together, cuddling together, and he has gotten me outside into my noisy backyard. This is a house we just moved into and now need to leave because the traffic is so much closer to us than we thought would affect me. I have to wear earplugs 24/7, and live in a constant state of hypervigilance in my own home. Going into the backyard has triggered me further. For Phineas though I attempted it so he could go potty. With my earplugs in, my sunglasses on and my bucket hat to shield me from the Florida rays, we ventured out to the backyard to go potty. That was a learning experience. He did great. I however was triggered and it set off a PNES (psychogenic non-epileptic seizure) from the overwhelm of being in the backyard with big, loud 18-wheeler trucks barreling past on the road right near our house, and the sounds of construction going on right behind us. It was just too much for me. It didn't phase him in the slightest. So now we have a fake patch of grass he can go potty on inside the house. It is in his playpen and near the door to go out. I decided that instead of adding to my stress and taking him outside, this would take care of both our needs-him to relieve himself, and me to prevent another seizure. I take him to the park, or the new development where our new house is being built to go outside because it is much quieter there.
Thinking outside the box and trusting my gut (intuition) has been a huge help. My head is still telling me this is a bad idea because it is so unfamiliar to me or my family. The cats have sequestered themselves upstairs and only Lucy has dared to check out the new family member. My mind keeps guilting me into believing I am being neglectful of the cats ( I call them "the girls") because the baby (Phineas) needs me. But my gut feeling says that everything will be good. It just takes time and patience.
So far in this first week, we have visited his grandparents, been to the park(!), the pet store and have been learning sit, to come when his name is called, lay down and to walk on a leash. I have another 7 days before the trainer comes. Phineas is very smart, snugly and truly a Velcro dog! He hates to be away from me, which is a great relief when I am out of the house. He will need to learn to share my time with the girls and the rest of the family though. But he just got here, so it will happen. He has already brought me comfort and has snuggled closer to me when Ive had a breakdown sobbing due to exhaustion and overwhelm. As I was beginning to seize he sat in my lap and licked my face, which was distracting and helped bring me into the present moment. It's only been a week. I am looking forward to seeing what happens in the weeks to come. Will the girls and Phin become friends? Will we begin to master basic commands? How will I learn to incorporate my yoga practice into my life with him? I guess we will both find out....
Information contained within this site does not take the place of professional medical care. It is for educational purposes only and created with the intention of offering support and empowerment to women struggling to find wholistic and natural answers to their challenges. Every individual is responsible for their own actions, choices and behavior.