Anger and Fear

I have a very anxious rescue dog named Sybil. Because I know her so well, I see her behavior differently than most people probably do. To them she probably seems aggressive or even dangerous. She barks at everyone and everything. She’ll even snap at other dogs or people if they get too close. This behavior, as you might imagine, doesn’t garner much sympathy. I am constantly having to apologize for her. I try to explain to people that while she may seem like she’s just being a brat, her behavior is based in fear.

Sybil has actually taught me a lot about myself. Before her, I never really made the connection between my own anxiety and aggression. While not as bad as it once was, I still have a short temper overall. I am especially irritable on days when I feel the most anxious.

From an evolutionary perspective, I guess it makes sense. If you are feeling threatened, a natural response is to try to defend yourself. Throughout most of human history this probably meant through some form of physical action. Fast forward to the present, and our fears and the solutions to them are not so simple or similar. Yet overall our internal wiring remains the same. Just as it does within our animal brethren.

My anger is one of my least favorite qualities. It causes me to act in ways I always regret later. However, because I dislike this side of myself so much, I end up getting angry at myself for getting angry. Which is obviously quite self-defeating. So rather than react to the anger itself, sometimes I am able to remember to look past it. I look for the fear hiding in the shadow of that anger instead.

I find it quite astonishing actually. There is always something I am afraid of when I search for the roots my anger is stemming from. And while looking at the anger makes me more angry, looking at the fear underneath allows me to feel compassion for myself. I see the frightened child behind the school bully. I see the sweet fearful dog behind the violent bite.

Then I have a much better chance of calming myself down rather than try to argue with myself about whether or not my anger is justified. The latter strategy never works. When I am angry I am great at rationalizing why I have the right to be. I rile myself up even more combing through the minutia of other people’s errors. But whether or not a have the right to feel angry isn’t the point. We all have the right to get angry sometimes. Especially when we have been genuinely wronged. However, the real question isn’t whether it’s warranted, it’s whether we want to feel that way. And I don’t know many people that want to feel angry.

For me, it’s easier to address the fear instead. Then I have an opportunity to comfort myself. To give myself what I am truly needing in those moments. I don’t need more violence or turmoil. I need softness and reassurance. Which are usually pretty easily to supply myself with once I know what I’m afraid of. The fear itself is usually exaggerated or unfounded. And once it is addressed, there is no more anger either.

So the next time you feel yourself getting angry, think about Sybil. Remember that you might just be scared. Take a moment to ponder what it is that you are afraid of in that moment. Hopefully doing so will be able to provide you with more peace. It has certainly been helpful for me.

My Vegan Dog: Food & Treats Review

When I adopted my sweet daughter Sybil in December of 2016, she was basically a sphere. Her plump little body was unstably supported on her short little legs. She could hardly fit in my lap when I first picked her up in the shelter. The shelter workers even seemed concerned about her weight and informed me that her previous owner told them “she loves table scraps.”

Upon her arrival at my home, I assumed it would be no problem getting her to eat. However, Sybil seemed to be totally uninterested in any type of dog food that I offered her. I began to wonder if her previous owner only gave her human food. I knew that dogs were omnivorous and could live and thrive on a plant-based diet. It had been my intention since deciding to adopt a dog to feed it vegan dog food. So I ordered the most affordable brand I could find online.

I could not have been more excited when the Natural Balance Vegetarian Formula canned and dry food I ordered her from Amazon arrived. At first I was skeptical of whether or not she would be accepting of this new food. But since she already wasn’t eating normal dog food I figured it was worth a try. To my surprise and delight, Sybil seemed to love her new food!

After only a few months on her new diet I began to notice miraculous changes in Sybil’s health. She rapidly began to shed her excess weight and is now a lean, energetic, and extremely mobile pup. Sybil also had terrible dandruff when I got her from the shelter. Now her coat is sleek, shiny, and free of that pesky dry skin. It’s hard for me to say, but I can’t help but think she even smells better now.

It is a bit pricier than average dog food, but I would definitely recommend switching your pets onto a vegan formula. There aren’t many studies out there yet surrounding this approach, but from my experience I truly believe it can drastically improve your dog’s health and longevity. Knowing that even the best, prime cuts of meat are detrimental to human health, it makes me shudder to think what the meat byproducts and random garbage ingredients in normal dog food is doing to our pets.

Sadly Sybil’s sister is an obligate carnivore, which means she must eat meat to survive. I try to give her the highest quality cat food I can. However, it can be difficult due to her picky pallet. I hope to one day feed her a natural raw diet, but it will always weigh heavy on my heart that cats require their owners to purchase meat products. Maybe eventually there will be a compassionate alternative. Until then I will do my best to keep both of my babies healthy and happy.

An Entire Year of Love

 

Last Thursday marked the anniversary of the day I adopted my sweet, sweet Sybil. I can hardly believe that a little over a year ago this perfect soul was surrendered to the animal shelter to face the possibility of her death. My heart aches to imagine what would have happened to Sybil if I had not decided to adopt her on that freezing, snowy night. Bringing Sybil home with me was one of the best decisions I have ever made in this life. I have never known such buoyant and blissful love as the love I share with my two fur-children.

Even though this post is a bit late, I still thought it was important to add my voice to the chorus of others advocating for shelter animals. Please, please, PLEASE do not purchase a dog or cat from a store or breeder when you could save the life of an equally worthy animal instead. It never ceases to amaze me that some people will spend hundreds of dollars to buy a puppy just for it’s breed (especially given that purebred dogs are destined to suffer from medical complications in old age due to the egregious level of inbreeding it took to produce them.)

I also wanted to bring up the seriousness of the commitment you are making when you decide to welcome an animal into your home whether purchased or adopted. When I got Sybil, I had no idea what type of personality she would have. Even though I got to spend time with her at the shelter, it’s hard to get to know a dog when they are in such a strange environment. Not to mention the descriptions of the dogs’ dispositions the shelter provides are often far from accurate. She was frozen in fear the entire meeting and was even too scared to sniff my hand when I offered it to her. After that, I knew that I couldn’t bear to leave her in that place. When I put that sweet, plump angel in my car that evening I made the commitment to love her and provide a good life for her no matter what the future had in store.

After having Sybil for a few weeks, I became even more certain that we were destined for one another. Sybil suffers from severe anxiety just like I do. She is always fearful towards new people, other dogs, and new places/situations. Due to her immense fear, Sybil can become rather aggressive. She will easily get into a fight with another dog if not watched closely until they are comfortable with one another. Yet even then, she is too afraid to play with other dogs, mistaking their playfulness for aggression. Thankfully she has never bitten a person, but her loud barks don’t make her very popular with the kiddos (or anyone for that matter). Whenever I take Sybil for a car ride or take her to a friend’s house, she can never seem to relax. She will shiver and whimper nearly the entire time. After experiencing these quirks first hand, I became even more glad that I was the one that saved Sybil from the pound that day. I knew that many people would simply return a dog who was so difficult. Most people find her utterly annoying. But I adore her for even her flaws and no matter what happened once Sybil came home with me, there was nothing that could have made me abandon her.

An adopted pet is no different than a child in my eyes. Regardless of disposition of your child (adopted or not) in no way determines your duty to care and provide for them. It would be inconceivable for someone to give up their child because they misbehave. The same standard should be applied to other sentient dependents as well.

One day I hope that humanity realizes that other animals are just as worthy of love, freedom, and happiness as human beings are. I love my babies as much as any other mother loves hers. What a beautiful world we would live in if everyone shared such unconditional love for the most innocent among us. I look forward to many more years of boundless love with my most cherished companions. Thank you, Sybil, for being a part of my life and for all the love you give.

Adopt Don’t Shop ♥