During the calendar quarter when my dog, Sophie, stopped enjoying our longest seven-mile walks, she would come home completely fatigued and slightly wobbly in the legs. Each day, before heading out the door, I considered leaving Sophie at home; yet,each day there she was–ready in Spirit and game in appearance–to go for another four-, five- or seven-mile “hike” with me.
What surprised me the most, during this time of her life and mine, were the personal, internal emotional reactions that I was experiencing toward Sophie’s change in life phase. Frustration and low levels of anger were arising on occasion, as I contemplated the loss of my walking partner. My emotions aside, the one thing that was completely obvious was that a shift in Sophie’s physical needs had occurred.
Sophie was a newly anointed senior dog; and, as such, we needed to make some adjustments to our daily physical routines and schedule. Looking back, I realized that Sophie’s once, twice-daily ball catching extravaganzas had fallen away quite naturally. Why was I having so much trouble letting go of our walking routine? What was I missing?
That is when I had to face the fact that my frustration and mild anger were about my loss of Sophie as my personal walking partner, more than being about Sophie’s changing physical needs. Apparently, I could accept Sophie’s aging, but her having to “abandon” her role as my personal walking companion, during our joint walks, was difficult.
A personal, psychological shift was in order for me–internally. I decided to rechristen Sophie my exclusive, writing partner. She was and is an expert in her “new” role. She naps as required, lifting her head for a timely pat whenever I lose my train of thought, need a break or require some much needed emotional support and encouragement.
It is uncanny how the reframing of a relationship or situation can cause the heart to reopen in understanding, respect and Love. And, isn’t that ultimately what our best relationships are all about?