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  • September 30th, 2009 | 5:57 PM
Of Dogs and Writing - Finding your People

About six months ago we took Cassie for her eval to see if she could make it into day care. We thought a day or two a week playing with doggie pals would be good for her. Alas for Cassie, a complete introvert, it turned out not to be a good thing after all. She flunked the eval and we were told that it would too hard on her, traumatic even, to be there all day. The evaluator told us to keep Cassie out of dog parks because it would be too much for her. My poor shrinking violet.

She gets so excited when she sees another dog, tail wagging, sometimes a pay attention to me bark. But then the moment comes and they are face to face (or face to rear as it goes with dogs) and she is just overwhelmed by it all and usually gives up on the attempt to make a new friend.

I can so relate. I want to meet new people, make new friends and yet there is that whole, tail wagging, attention getting time where I wonder if I have something to bring to the table of friendship. Will they like me? What if they don't? What if I make a mistake of some kind or say something stupid? What if I'm too fat or too old or too serious or too, you get the picture. Fill in the blank with your current irrational fear.

Recently we met a friend and his dogs at a local dog park so we could get to know each other's dogs and catch up with one another. While Cassie wasn't the life of the party she didn't dig a hole and climb in. She spent most of her time glued to our sides. But she tried. We've been taking her to the dog beach where she can run after the other dogs as they chase a ball. She's not interested in the balls and not totally interested in the dogs but she ventures further away from us on her own there. She stays back from the pack, the leftover, the lone wolf just outside of being accepted. Of course if she would let herself join in the fun I have no doubt that should would be accepted totally, just as she is.

We went back to the dog park last weekend and as soon as we opened the gate and took off her leash she ran into the crowd of dogs without even a backward glance. She didn't stay there long and she didn't really play with anyone but when she trotted back to our sides she looked happy and interested and not at all traumatized. For over an hours she would venture off on her own to sniff around and then come back and check in with us. Friends commented on how much better she was doing this time around.

As we were getting ready to leave another dog entered the park. This one was a German Shepherd.  Cassie tore off after him, happily doing the sniff test and letting herself be sniffed. No matter where we go, she gravitates toward her kind. After a little bit of visiting Cassie was ready to go home, the scent of her new friend firmly implanted on her brain. My shrinking violet was starting to bloom.

In the morning I leave for Austin for the one day conference put on by the folks at Vermont College. Being a confirmed and lifelong introvert, I don't normally do this sort of thing. But I decided to take a chance.  I decided to go in early so I could have time with friends and do a little reaching out of my own.

Thursday night dinner will be with illustrator Mary Sullivan and illustrator/author Don Tate. Friday morning (I hope) with liz_scanlon and Friday afternoon with Peni Griffin before heading to the opening mixer where 70 children's authors will gather to glean wisdom from Kathi Applet and Sharon Darrow.

These are my people. And though I am a shrinking violet myself, I gravitate toward my kind for I know I will welcomed there and accepted and they will help me bloom.
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.



Comments

( 6 comments — Leave comment )
(Deleted comment)
susanwrites
October 1st, 2009 02:53 am (UTC)
Re: Have fun in Austin
Thanks, Melodye. Yes, I love that blog. It gives me a great big boost of I can do it just when I need it most. So do you. (I'm an INFP.)
barboconnor
October 1st, 2009 10:14 am (UTC)
Love it.
p_sunshine
October 1st, 2009 01:52 pm (UTC)
You can do it!
cute_n_cranky
October 1st, 2009 01:58 pm (UTC)
Have you tried introducing Cassie by first having her follow a friend whose dog is on a leash. By being the follower, it takes a lot of the stress off the intro.

Then when she seems comfortable...not overly excited but not stressed, you slowly get closer and closer until you're walking side by side with the humans (and whatever comfortable space she needs) between.

Then slowly walking with only one human between (you)...then none. Finally face-to-face. The slowly creeping while engaged in activity can really help. My Malamute/Shepherd mix was incredibly shy with other dogs but those things helped her and slowly she acclimated until she ended up with a doggie best pal (a neighbor's dog) who used to come over every single morning and sit on my back step. He's bark once...and wiat for Mouse (my dog) to come out. They they would play in the backyard and the creek until his owner called him home.

At which time Mouse got a bath. This happened every single day. I would open the back door to let her in and she would walk straight to the bathroom and get in the tub. People constantly commented on how she was the best smelling dog ever.
(Anonymous)
October 1st, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
Maybe you get this too late, but take it from someone who knows
You can do it, took me a long time to find that out - in fact I am still finding it out. If you want something badly enough you can make it happen. You have got to start believing in yourself believing in Cassie (which I know you do) and everything else will fall into place.
Enjoy yourself and enjoy your wonderful life and stop taking everything so seriously.

Sorry this comment sounds more like a case of Dear Anne... I mean well

- Anne McKenna
( 6 comments — Leave comment )
WHO AM I?



Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.






Susan Taylor Brown

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