Sunday, July 7, 2019

Navigating With a Skipper

Conflict is inevitable. It's really not a conflict between our personhoods. It's really conflicting strategies to meet our basic needs. -- Tara Brach
This is Skipper. He's staying with us for a few days while his owner is away visiting family:


We've known Skipper and his dad since we moved into the neighbourhood last year. He seemed a pretty easy-going little thing, though I confess that I didn't really take much notice of him. We chat a lot with his dad, who is a gregarious and friendly fellow who clearly adores his dog and loves taking him out for walks.

When Skipper's dad first approached us about dog sitting for him, he was really anxious to make sure that Skipper would be comfortable in our home. I thought it was sweet that he was so worried about his little friend. I figured it would be an easy ride.

But little Skipper isn't happy to be with us at all right now. He growls and snarls and snaps at us if we try to move him somewhere he doesn't want to go. He growls when one of us walks past, and he certainly doesn't want us to touch him much.... at least not when he's in the house.

But on the walk, he's happy and easy and doesn't mind us petting him. He wags his tail when he meets other dogs, does the obligatory sniffing, runs after us when he falls behind.

I was really mad at him yesterday. I suppose I was disappointed because I thought it would be fun to have him here: that he and Seymour would play with each other and be good company for each other, but you can see from this photo that they're not exactly comfortable to be together:


But really, I do feel sorry for him. He's clearly missing his dad and clearly doesn't know what to make of this strange house with different rules and different smells. He needs something from us and I just don't know what that is yet:


And I think I need something as well. I think I need him to accept me. I'm not used to having a dog not like me, and I think it's wounding my ego. I realized that as I sat on the couch this afternoon and knitted away with him in his bed on the floor in front of me. We're just not finding the meeting place here. And I'm not sure if we will.

But we have another eight days together, and I'm hoping that we'll find some easier ground in the meantime. Luckily, Seymour has the wit to leave him alone and give him his space (except he has commandeered all the toys he brought along, which is not shocking in the least). And perhaps Seymour understands that not everyone will be his friend, and is not nearly as needy as his mom is when it comes to affection:


I'm off to knit. Wish us luck:

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