... But he's here now 🙂
Renee Sullivan here...
I'd like you to meet "Lotto". He is a 5 year old lab mix who we adopted 9 days ago from the Second Chance Animal Shelter in East Brookfield, Massachusetts. I think we hit the lottery with Lotto as he's all settled in and being a good dog.
However, I would like to share a little bit of background on how Lotto came into our (my) life...
My first experience with having a dog was when I was about 4 years old. Unfortunately, "Mickey" wasn't with us very long because he ran away. From what my parents told me later in life was that when Mickey ran away, he was hit by a car and died instantly. However, the only thing I knew as a child (thankfully) is that he ran away. I honestly don't remember Mickey very much at all, except that he was a black lab mix.
When I turned about 7 years old we discovered that I had developed allergies to many things, but the one significant allergy I had that pertains to this post is that I had an allergy to fur. When I was around animals with fur, my eyes would puff out, tear up, my nose would run, I'd sneeze, etc. Basically, every time I was around animals, it was not a fun experience for me. I'd end up sick for a few days. I actually missed quite a bit of school because I was generally a "sickly" child.
In fact, it wasn't until I became an adult and decided to make a complete health transformation (that story will be told in another post), that I experienced what it was like not to be "sick" every day.
Now we're getting to the real meat of this story ...
Because I could never get "close" to animals without being sick, I never learned how to show love for animals. I was somewhat ok with that, and I respected people who could love animals, I just didn't think I would ever be able to give love and attention to animals like I knew they need and deserve.
The Shift: Phase 1
Moving on to about 7 years ago... once my health was "restored" and it was clear that I didn't get sick around furry animals, my husband and children "convinced" me that we should get a family pet. I wasn't so thrilled with the idea, but we settled on getting a kitten because they pretty much are independent animals. We ended up with 2 kittens because the animal shelter only lets us adopt in pairs, so that was fine. We had 2 cats in our home and I (and my daughter with asthma) developed an immunity to furry animals and all is good. =)
About 4 years later, we rescued another cat, so we now have 3 cats in our home. And for the past 4 years my husband and kids have been talking about getting a dog every now and then, but my answer to that has been, "No" any time it has been brought up. MY reason was that none of us have the time to spend with a dog ... my son (22) is in college and now has a place of his own, and my daughter (18) is headed to college in a few weeks, and both my husband and I work, and are very busy people.
The Shift: Phase 2
For the past several years, I have been seriously working on my own personal development journey along side my journey in building my online marketing business. In this process, I've been discovering more about myself, learning that I have certain negative "programs" which I described one of them above in mentioning how I did not know how to show love for animals.
As I progress in my personal development, I realize that in order for things to change in my life, I have to change some things in my life. A main thing I have been working on is my mindset.
The Shift: Phase 3
This leads me to 11 days ago when I returned from an amazing and impactful personal development event in Montreal . This was not your ordinary "rah rah" event. I could feel a definite positive shift in my mindset, but what was about to happen... I could not have ever imagined. It was not even on my radar screen before I headed out to this event. However it was something I needed and didn't even know it at the time.
When I returned home from that event, my husband and children were all home (which was surprising to me) and said they wanted to discuss something with me. My first thought was, "Oh no, what happened while I was gone?" I thought I did something wrong, someone died, all kinds of things were running through my mind.
This is when they sprung it on me... for the past several days while I was away, they were visiting animal shelters finding the right dog to adopt and they were going to "convince" me to get a dog. In a way, they knew that 'd be on a "high" from the event and more likely to "give in." They had already picked out a dog and planned to take me to the shelter the next day so I could see the dog and spend time with him. Although I wasn't prepared for this, and I didn't even ask for ... or want a dog, I somehow listened to them explain why they wanted a dog and there was something inside of me that decided to say "Yes" this time.
So we rescued "Lotto" from the animal shelter and I made a commitment to learn how to take care of a dog and love a dog . If there is such a thing as a "learn how to love and take care of a dog crash course" I might have figured it out, because Lotto learned quickly that I was the one "weak link" in the family and we had a bit of a rough start in the beginning. Lotto seemed to be "trained" for everyone else except ME... because whenever I was alone taking care of him, he'd poop in my office if I left the room for a brief moment. I got frustrated having to clean up poop every time this happened... but my frustration was not with Lotto... it was more with my family for "ganging up on me" and leaving me to take care of him on my own when in my mind I didn't even ask for a dog nor was I ready to take care of one on my own!
The Shift: Phase 4
So I started using some techniques from the personal development training I have been going through. I made it a burning desire of mine to feel love for him and show love for him. I started visualizing myself hugging, loving and cuddling Lotto.
That brings us to 2 days ago. We had a thunder storm, and as many dogs are, Lotto is afraid of thunder storms. One good thing is that BOTH my daughter and I were home. Lotto had so much anxiety from the thunder storm to the point of literally wanting to crawl up inside my daughter's body. We played calming music, gave him his prescription, asked for other tips from friends. But the one thing that seemed to work the best was hugging, cuddling, and holding him.
A Pivotal Moment
A nurturing part of me kicked in as I saw what Lotto really responded to...and when I could see that he needed a change from staying beside my daughter (and my daughter needed a break), I looked at Lotto, called him over and he came over gently and sat right next to me. I moved in closer and hugged him, cuddled him, held him until he fell asleep and the storm was over. I can honestly say that it felt really good to be able to comfort him. It was also obvious that it made him feel better too.
And the next day when I took him for a walk, he pooped outside where he's supposed to, I praised him (however I forgot a treat for him... but it doesn't matter) because he's been pooping outside whether I'm the one with him or not. He's been coming into my office sometimes while I am on my laptop and we have our moments together, and he even rests on the floor of my office and it's totally ok with him.
So I know there's a saying that "You don't always get what you ask for, you get what you need." In this case, I didn't even ask for Lotto, however he's here because we needed each other.
P.S. If you want to learn about those techniques I used in my personal development, START HERE