Living in the Past or the Present: Lessons From a Dog

Living in the Past or the Present:  Lessons From a Dog
by Charlotte Siems
 
We’ve had a variety of pets over the years:  hamsters, guinea pigs, fish, chickens, dogs, cats, rabbits and even a ferret.  Most of our pets have been family pets, with the responsibility for their care divided up on the chore list.  But occasionally a child has had the privilege of claiming special ownership of a small animal and being almost solely responsible for its tender care.
 
Our daughter Gracie has been asking for a puppy for years.  What girl doesn’t want a puppy or a kitten (or a horse)?  Every birthday, every Christmas, a puppy always made the list.  There was always a reason why it wasn’t practical, so time passed and the puppy remained a dream.
 
The week before Gracie’s 14th birthday, I had a sudden revelation that if she didn’t get that puppy soon, she would grow up, leave home and always remember the puppy she’d never had.  So the search began.
 
We looked online and let friends know that we were looking.  A few days before her birthday, my husband took Gracie to breakfast and sprung the news:  she was getting her very own dog.  That afternoon we made a trip to the animal shelter.  Oh, dear.  We wanted every one.
 
Then the call came from a friend.  She knew of a young dog for whom someone was looking for a good home since they were moving.  We did a quick online search to read about the Corgi breed and decided she sounded perfect.  We made a quick trip an hour away to meet our friend and brought home a small female Corgi, less than a year old.
 
The dog was christened “Laci” after considerable debate.  Then the fun began.
 
From what we can guess, Laci must have been left alone in a quiet crate much of the time.  With an only child.  Imagine the adjustment, moving into a busy household with people almost always around.  Laci spent her first day cowering under a chair in the master bedroom. 
 
She had originally been adopted from a rescue organization, so we don’t know her background.  She flinches at feet and sticks and sudden noises.  We showed her nothing but kindness, affection, and soft voices.  But she persisted in hiding under the chair.
 
I was struck by the thought that Laci was living in past reality.  What had happened to her months ago was not happening now, but it had created expectations and behaviors.  Her prospects for the future are bright but she is living as if the past is happening now.
 
Sound familiar?  How often do we do the same?  Coming from a background of abuse I have found myself remaining in habits of thought and action, doing what feels normal and safe.  Anxiety, the feeling that someone is mad at me, waiting for the other shoe to drop and the good thing to end—that felt familiar and true for most of my life.  It has colored my reactions and relationships many times. 
 
Realizing what’s going on is a big step towards healing, and that may take someone who is an ambassador for truth in your life.  Taking thoughts captive like a prisoner, with courage and aggression, is another.  Power-washing your heart and mind with constant input of Truth will transform you to live in the present, looking forward to the future.
 
I’m happy to report that little Laci is quickly warming up to the family.  She receives and gives affection and has spent hours snuggled up to her new owner.  Today she spent most of the day in “public,” forsaking her isolated hiding place and living where the love is. 
 
I think that dogs learn some things quicker than humans.  But we can take hope from Laci’s example and live in the reality of today, in our good life, with gratefulness and confidence.
Please leave a comment below.
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headshot1 150x150 Enter the 2012 T Tapp 60 Day Challenge!Charlotte Siems is a home-maker, home manager, T-Tapp Trainer, teacher, speaker and author.  Her story of losing over 100 pounds with T-Tapp has encouraged thousands of people all over the world.  She specializes in making home management and T-Tapp “doable” for real people and real life.  She is happy to be a wife and mother of twelve children whom she has successfully taught at home for 25 years.
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11 Comments

  1. Secretsister20653 says:

    I love the phrase, “Living where the love is”! That was just beautiful!

  2. Charlotte,
    What a perfect time to read about this.  I just started a support thread on T-Tapp that included some of what you have here.  This is SUCH a great thing to share, especially as those of us WAYWARD T-Tappers are wayward because of past issues and “living as if the past is happening now.”  I assume it is OK to a link to this on our Thread?  If not, please let me know and I will remove it ASAP.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Charlotte,
    What a perfect time to read about this.  I just started a support thread on T-Tapp that included some of what you have here.  This is SUCH a great thing to share, especially as those of us WAYWARD T-Tappers are wayward because of past issues and “living as if the past is happening now.”  I assume it is OK to a link to this on our Thread?  If not, please let me know and I will remove it ASAP.Thanks for sharing this!

    1. CharlotteSue says:

      Oh, that’s great to share a link!  Interesting how we’re all on the same journey…

  4. Adamnholly830 says:

    OOh a homeschool tip!  Thanks!  I just realized I could take a little lap book approach toward helping my Leah remember the letter Y with cut outs and all that jazz.  I’ve forgotten how to be creative this last year for some reason.  Great article!

    1. CharlotteSue says:

      Glad you enjoyed it! 

  5. Our Elizabeth is almost 11.  We adopted a rescue cat who was a year old skittish and had already been a mama.  We got her because Elizabeth had a 2 hour crying fest after watching a movie where a women cried because she never had a cat.  Trouble is, Tasha our beauty cat girl chose ME as her human.  Elizabeth wasn’t ready to forge a relationship and was scared of her.  That is why we didn’t have a pet in the first place.  Soooo now that we are moving, I want to get her an older kitten from Kitten Rescue in hopes that she will bond and that my cat will get to be a mentor.  Husband not happy about a second cat, but Elizabeth is an only child and needs a live snugly companion.  If anyone has any insight on this I am open for advice.  I personally have never had this close of a relationship with an animal my whole life and realize how precious it is.  I want my daughter to have that.

  6. Lavenderbabe says:

    Thank you so much for this! I’ve spent a lifetime working on this very issue. I come from a background of abuse too, where there was no safe place, no safe family member to run too. It wasn’t just a couple of bad moments – it was constant – for decades. So hard to shake the expectations that were taught from the earliest years. “Anxiety, the feeling that someone is mad at me, waiting for the other shoe to drop and the good thing to end–that felt familiar and true for most of my life.”  I  understand that so much. I’ve established a great career and some precious relationship, and the past still haunts today’s joys.
    You have shared about your past before, and it’s a precious blessing to read how you are breaking the cycle and creating happy memories for yourself and your children. And with so many children,  your legacy of determination and joy will spread to the future.
    Thank you for sharing your life stories.
    You are an inspiration and a blessing.

  7. It might be that the dog is more fortunate to have a smaller memory capacity or brain, but we could take a lesson in letting the present determine how we NOW react. I do know some dogs who are forever altered from the abuse they suffered, (one comes to mind that cannot tolerate any actions that seem to indicate hitting, she is very protective) but she also has a large capacity to love and be loyal.

  8. What a great doggie story. I’m so glad your daughter got her puppy… a special bond will happen soon. Animals are so healthy for children of all ages.

  9. Your line on “Anxiety, the feeling that someone is mad at me, waiting for the other shoe to drop and the good thing to end—that felt familiar and true for most of my life. It has colored my reactions and relationships many times.” really struck a chord in my heart.

    I feel that way so often, and have never really taken notice as to why and how to ‘take it captive’.

    What a great story, and lesson, to remember!

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