We have another dog. She is a delight so far- been here around 5 hours. Her name is Belle. The others have been gently wonderful with her, giving her space. Quietly indifferent. Oh right, it’s you! She is an older collie, older than the rescue said. She is a little chubby after having her two gorgeous pups. I haven’t actually told many people, and I am wondering why that is. Usually a new dog is heralded by social media posts, and joyous delight, and not this slightly guilty, secret excitement.
It fluttered across my mind today that maybe I am wary of being judged.
Usually I can maintain a thick layer of self protection (A boss who I had locked horns with in my short and not at all enjoyable spell in her team, gave me a mug coaster depicting a rhinocerous as a Christmas present once. You get the general picture of me presenting as thick skinned. Incidentally I still have it- the coaster, not the thick skin). This caution is therefore a different experience for me. I have more dogs than I have money for. I guess that is part of the guilt. Maybe it is that she is not what people will expect? Maybe people will think I am greedy? Or maybe I am just so damned lost since loosing Izzydog that I am not making sound choices?
I am fully aware that most of us judge, all the time. It is part of being human. It doesn’t always have to be a bad thing, to make a judgement about someone, something. Especially if you can do it with kindness. At its most basic it can keep us safe. In my line of professional work I make “assessments” all the time, and have been doing so for many years. Is an assessment just a judgement without our own baggage attached to it, a more cool, clinical and objective look at a given set of circumstances? There is huge emphasis on being “non-judgemental” in my line of work, and I know I can be that, mostly.
I also know that I do judge, sometimes not kindly. The woman in her pyjamas at the shopping centre at 3 in the afternoon, who is dragging her small child along whilst screaming at her that she is “a fu**ing bitch.” In a flash I judge that even if she was doing the best she could with whatever she was carrying from her own past or current life (whatever it was I’m pretty sure it was not kind, or good) that what she was doing now, was not “good enough.”
When I see social media posts of horses obviously terrified with their eyes bulging, froth dribbling from a tied down mouth, and all the other horrors we subject them too, I judge that to not be “good enough.”
When I see dog owners yanking their dogs about, or ignoring them completely when out on a walk with their eyes glued to their phones, I work hard to not judge, although a little voice whispers in the background that it is not “good enough”.
I always thought my father, with all the hardships of his early life, born in the 1920’s, mum dying young, his father an alcoholic, did the very best he could as a dad, but still, sometimes, I found myself judging he did not always make the “good enough” standard. I was comfortable with accepting that, as I knew he tried.
The second friend I tell about Belle, (the first one is simultaneously overwhelmingly supportive and quietly resigned to my dog madness) the new collie dog, this sweet elderly lady with little white feet, and soulful eyes, informs me “you don’t really need another dog do you?”
And then I re-discover that, after all, I do not care about being judged.
Say hello to Belle. Go ahead and judge if you wish.
I am comfortable with that.
Belle has been here a few weeks now. She has settled well, asks for little, typical of a dog acclimatised to being alone. Each day she comes out of that shell she has tightly wrapped around herself. She loves to run. Always comes back, already. She has done some zoomies. Perfect dog-dog skills. She takes the exuberance of the younger dogs in her stride, now she has stopped feeling like she needs to be mum and stop it. She is taking treats, asking for physical contact. Her body language indicates some harsh treatment. Plenty of fear lurks there.
She has an endearing habit of weeing in other dogs empty dinner bowls, after eating, so quite polite. She has expert aim and hardly gets any on the floor. We think maybe she learnt that in a small space, to keep her bedding dry? We are dealing with that and encouraging time outside, which she doesn’t seem very used to. She jumped on the sofa the other day, which we see as a good sign. She is the sweetest little thing, and we look forward to sharing the rest of her journey with her.
Since she has been here the weather has been largely awful. I’m wondering about a “wintering” journal when meteorologically it is spring. Thing is, it isn’t. We have seen the sun once in the last 10 days. Think grey, snow, sleet, strong wind, rain, dark, gloom. Repeat.
I find myself constantly looking for light.
That’s how I feel. Hunched against the wind, the rain, the cold.
“If you are hunched, or hunched up, you are leaning forwards with your shoulders raised and your head down, often because you are cold, ill, or unhappy.” (Collins dictionary)
Maybe all three. Letting the weather slide away from me, perhaps encouraging the emotional weight of future changes slide away too. I copy the dogs, shake off the stress and the cold. I instantly feel more positive, although soon return to hunching.
It feels right, somehow.
Another Mothers day without my mum, spent it delivering flowers to other peoples ‘ mothers. Being bright, friendly, and happy as I delivered them. Crying in the van inbetween. Feeling my age as bones and joints grumble about all the hopping in and out of the van, climbing into the back, lugging huge vases about. I remember Mothering Sunday as a child. Homemade cards – I still have some I made- mum kept them all. Maybe a bunch of daffodils. Simple. Not this convoluted commercialised blasting everywhere you look.
I contemplate the random missing of parents.
No one to eat toasted tea cakes with.
Not nearly as much giggling.
Dad sitting with me on a Saturday night drinking a beer around my outdoor fire pit.
No need to buy things in the garden centre for the garden, or look for nice things to tempt anyone to eat.
No one to tell me about the clouds and what the weather has in store.
This mothers day, nearly over.
And it sounds like spring.
The birds are sure it is spring.
The blackbirds sweetly calling.
I see and hear a myriad of birds fluttering and chattering, looking for a temporary home.
The horses are shedding their winter coats by the handful.
It feels like spring, and it smells like spring.
The days are longer.
Something in the air has changed.
It is spring.
It is spring.
All things are possible.