Lead With Joy
Melody was not surprised to find pee and poop on the rugs in her house when she came home from work. Her dog Tony had been soiling since she brought him home one year ago. Tony not only did this when she was gone, but also immediately after they returned from a walk, even though he was given plenty of time outside to do his business. He also often waited until Melody was looking right at him. This was obviously targeted toward Melody.
Tony was a handsome long haired fellow, mostly black with tan legs, muzzle and eyebrows and big, frank, dark eyes. He had a rebellious spirit and either ran away every chance he got or refused to come back when called. Melody had once lost him for two days. She wondered what was on her dog’s mind.
Looking at his photograph I immediately sensed that Tony wasn’t grounded, and that there was a power struggle between him and his person. He was a smart dog who needed a purpose in his life. He had no structure, and like a young teenager, he needed boundaries and direction. He said that he and Romeo, Melody’s Boxer, were a team. He felt that Romeo needed a little leadership, and said, “That’s where I come in. I teach him things.”
“Like how to be seen and heard around here.”
Melody confirmed this and said that, despite being a small dog, Tony was the alpha and had taught Romeo how to escape through the fence. I could feel Tony’s determination and demands. He was trying to control Melody. I asked him why he ran away all the time. He showed me his life in a former home living with an elderly woman who didn’t let him out much.
Tony told me, “I want to see the world. Melody worries too much. She holds my leash too tight. She is always afraid. Tense. Sometimes I want to break away and have fun. This is what Melody needs to do. She needs to listen to me. Tell her to take charge, but in a gentle way. Lead with joy.”
Melody disagreed. She said she was an extremely joyful person, and she did not hold the leash too tight, but that Toby wore a choke chain. When he pulled, it hurt his neck and he would cry. Why did a small dog, the size of a Chihuahua, need to wear a choke chain?
“ Because,” Melody said, “Tony is an escape artist who squiggles out of every collar and harness he has ever worn.” Melody was afraid of losing him again.
The following day after my session with him, Melody called to say that when she took the dogs out for their walk, Tony urinated right on her shoe.
Apparently, Tony’s feelings still had not been heard, and I needed to peel away more layers. Melody then mentioned that Tony was kept in a crate all day ten to twelve long hours. He had been confined like this every day for the past five months now. I explained to Melody that we could not possibly gauge our progress if Tony was kept in a crate, and that if she expected me to help him, she needed to let him out and take her chances. She said she could not do that, because whenever Tony was out of his crate he destroyed the house.
What? Why had Melody left out this important information? What exactly had this tiny dog done?
“He has ripped holes in the couch, torn the rugs up, scratched the woodwork, tattered the curtains, chewed my credit cards and my shoes.”
“Oh?” I asked, “and this just slipped your mind?”
Now I needed to start again, and take a long look at Melody, not just her dog. I suggested to Melody that if she was not ready to trust Tony and uncrate him, then to consider confining him to the kitchen during the day, or any room where he could not do too much damage, but where he could at least have space to stretch his legs.
“Well, I cannot do that,” Melody said, apparently forgetting to mention another minor detail. “If Toby is not crated, he bites the dog walker.”
“Melody! Is there anything ELSE I need to know?”
Melody finally gave me the full picture. Her dog was out of control. After addressing each issue with Tony, the wild child, and looking at the chakras involved that motivated each of Tony’s behaviors, as well as looking at the emotional centers in Melody that related to each issue, I found four chakras that were consistently off balance in both of them: the throat, heart and the lower two centers.
Melody was gone for too long. Tony told me, “When she returns from work, she keeps herself busy. She doesn’t have enough time for herself. She won’t let go.”
Melody agreed. When she returned home from a twelve hour work day, she buried herself in front of the computer until it was time for bed.
Was Melody the truly joyful person that she claimed to be? As I probed, I realized that Tony’s comments about his person were both literal and figurative. Melody was tight, not only with Tony’s leash, but with her own life as well. Tony wanted her to take charge of him, as well as to take charge of her own life, but in a gentle way. Her own life felt out of control, and she had difficulty letting go, trusting and leading with joy.
I asked Melody which parts of her life left her feeling frazzled and falling apart? She said she was worried about finances. She had recently purchased a hotel, and the boutique she owned was undergoing construction. These were all lower chakra issues (finances, foundation, security, fear) which created stress for Melody, a self-employed, single woman with a mortgage. Like Tony, perhaps Melody needed to “break away and have fun.”
Then the throat and heart centers needed to be addressed. Melody didn’t appear to be lonely, so I asked, “Has anyone close to you died recently? What are you angry about? And who have you not been expressing your feelings to?”
Melody then told me she was still grieving the loss of her dog, Lilo, who had passed away shortly before Tony came into the household. Tony could see Lilo in Melody’s thoughts, and he could feel Melody’s sadness. Tony needed to know the full story. She needed to tell him about Lilo. Melody also needed to talk to Lilo, and tell her departed dog whatever it was that she had been holding back. Our animals who are in spirit, and our human loved ones who have died, are still with us and can hear us.
Melody talked to Tony, and even showed Tony Lilo’s picture. Then she cried and talked to Lilo. She now took time for her dogs, and everyday she told them where she was headed and when she planned to return. She released Tony from the crate, and trusted that all would be fine. While at work, she held this optomistic feeling inside her as well as the mental picture of a clean and orderly house, instead of anticipating a mess when she walked into her home. After work, she spent time relaxing on the couch with both Romeo and Tony.
I gave Tony three jobs; to get the mail with Melody each day (his idea, not mine), to greet people and to keep the house clean. I told him to greet the dog walker. She was there to have fun, and that he didn’t need to hide under the bed or bite her when she came too close. I told him he had a choice, and that he did not have to go walking if he did not want to.
Sending Tony healing energy to relax him, I also sent energy to ground him, so he would feel solid and secure in his body. I imagined a golden cord radiating from him and attaching to Melody, to give him the feeling of safety and connection to his person, no matter how far away she physically was. I surrounded him within an imaginary bubble of white light so he felt protected. I spiritually aligned him by imagining another golden cord rising from his crown chakra to the Creator.
Then I did several rounds of the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), for both Melody and Tony, as I tapped the meridians on my body a surrogate for their bodies, since they were located clear across the country while addressing the emotional concerns associated with those particular chakras.
The dog-walker reported that Tony has been in a good mood and easy to handle. Tony has chosen to go for his walks and no longer tries to bite her. Since the dog walker began telling Tony where they were going, and that they would return, he no longer looks back toward the house like he used to. He has not chewed one single thing, keeps the house clean and doesn’t use his home as a bathroom. Tony has complete freedom in the house now and is no longer crated. Soon Melody will walk him with a harness and leash, instead of a choke chain.
When I had started working with Melody, I felt resistance. She seemed to discount every insight that I had shared with her. She wasn’t ready to be honest with herself. She had not worked through her grief. She was overwhelmed with her workload and had not realized it. Melody worried, did not trust herself and was too afraid to let Tony out of the crate. It was easier to keep her dog under control than to keep an eye on her own life.
After she listened to what Tony had to say about her, she felt a shift inside. Melody was willing to let go of those things she could not control. She acknowledged her fear and stress, and then began to trust me, her dogs and the process of her life. When she finally set an intention and announced, “We can do this!”, Tony’s behavior changed.