|Athena, Bear, Jay, & Skyler|
My dog Jay has two new foster siblings! Athena, a female german pointer, and Bear, a male black lab/border collie mix. They belong to a friend of the family who recently underwent surgery to amputate one of her legs, so we are caring for them until she is well enough to return home.
Athena has a fear of walking across linoleum floors, which is something she must do in order to go outside at our house. It’s very sad to watch her walk to the edge of the carpet, then balk and turn around, only to return a few seconds later and repeat the process all over again. I can tell that she really wants to walk across the floor, but her intense fear paralyzes her. Oh, I can relate to that! I can’t tell you how many times I have walked to the edge of the proverbial carpet, and been unable to take the next step.
We can’t push Athena across the floor, we can’t put a leash on her and drag her across the floor, we could pick her up and carry her, but that wouldn’t really be helping her. All we can do to aid her in getting over the fear is to reassure her, and encourage her to keep going. In the short time that she’s been with us, I can already see a major improvement in her confidence, and her ability to walk across the linoleum on her own. She still sometimes balks at first, but it takes her much less time to push past the fear and take the step off of the carpet.
So it also goes for me in the dojo, regarding my shyness. When I started, if my instructors had tried to push me to get over my fears, there’s a good chance I would have balked and ran away. They encourage me, they motivate me, but they allow me to deal with it in my own time, without trying to force me. From the beginning I knew that no one was going to pick me up and carry me across the floor, so if I wanted to get over my fears, I would just have to keep facing them until they no longer scared me. I’m not quite to that point yet, but every time I step off of the proverbial carpet it gets a little bit easier, and I have come a very long way on this journey. No one can make me do it, and no one can do it for me, but having people there helping me makes all the difference in the world.