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Separation Anxiety?

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

Shirley asks:

"Can you help me with my dog, Jimmy? He has separation anxiety. My neighbor told me that he whines and barks whenever I leave. He jumps on tables, and when I return, I find my things all over the floor. Jimmy is a five-year-old rescue who has been with me for three years. He's been doing this since day one. If I'm gone for a half hour or longer, I have to leave him with a neighbor or take him to doggy daycare, and it's getting expensive."

Immediately when I looked at Shirley's photo, herself sitting with Jimmy, a white poodle mix, I felt a severe block in the solar plexus and heart center and heard the word "restriction."

Even though Jimmy had one eye due to physical abuse from his former person, it didn't seem the dog had brought any of his baggage into his relationship with Shirley. He was happy in his new home, but he felt purposeless. Jimmy needed a job.

Jimmy also hadn't developed a spiritual connection - a comfortable trust and surrender to a higher Self or Source. He felt lost and small without Shirley; in the same way, we might feel vulnerably alone when we forget to operate in the expansion of Divine guidance. Shirley had become Jimmy's source and the entire world. Jimmy needed to build his own identity. And I needed to peel the layers to learn what Shirley had done to create such dependence in their relationship.

Scanning downward, I felt a blockage in Jimmy's heart center. Not just when left alone but also in general, Jimmy was either grieving, lonely, or very unhappy. However, he had high, healthy self-esteem and the potential to grow into a confident, assertive individual. In addition, there was a blockage in his lower energy centers. Jimmy felt bored and needed more activity, and for some reason, he wasn't feeling secure and grounded, despite his forever home with a devoted human. Because he was so attached to Shirley, I had a hunch that he was mirroring some of her repressed emotions.

"Jimmy," I asked, "what can you tell me about Shirley?"

"Shirley is my best friend. I watch out for her. I make sure she gets up in the morning. She needs more friends. It's all work-related. How about some real fun? I provide her with that. I like our walks to the park. I like to play with other dogs. She is happy when I play. I'm bored at home. I don't know what to do with myself when she's not there. I miss her. I cannot protect her if I am not with her."

I asked Jimmy if he would explain why he didn't need to protect Shirley when he stayed with the neighbor or at doggy daycare? Jimmy replied, "Because I'm not home."

Upon hearing this, I chose the appropriate job for Jimmy that would give him purpose when left alone: to protect the home, not Shirley. I told him that if he intended to be a good protector, he needed to relax, yawn, and be still and quiet so he could hear intruders approaching. No more whining and barking.

I asked Shirley to pull the blinds up, so he had full sight and didn't have to poke his head through them, to banish all obstacles so Jimmy could perform his duties well.

As expected, I also felt a massive blockage in Shirley's heart center. Shirley told me she was still grieving her former dog and held anger and regret over what she could no longer change. She had adopted Jimmy when this dog died.

It's important to allow ourselves to grieve, forgive, and go through what we need to before we decide to adopt another animal companion in hopes of filling our void. Although an animal may distract us from ourselves, the distraction can become a thin scab on our wounds. Jimmy felt her grief and "saw" the former dog's face in her mind. He also felt the emotional restriction that Shirley had created around the heart center for not forgiving herself. Animals feel us profoundly and can become confused and overwhelmed when they don't know how to help us.

Like Jimmy's, Shirley's lower three energy centers were also blocked. She admitted that she never entertained friends at home and had neglected and forgotten to pursue those things that once made her heart sing. She drowned her ambitions and procrastinations in catering to her dog. This had to change.

Then Shirley told me something that helped pull this all together. She said Jimmy loved other dogs and used to gingerly approach them on their walks together. But after Jimmy had snapped at one particular dog, Shirley now held back on the leash and would no longer allow him to socialize. She was afraid it would happen again and hesitant to leave him alone. She made a big deal when she left and a big deal when she returned. It turned out it was Shirley, afraid of everything and holding back from truly enjoying life. Now the word 'restriction" clicked in. She restricted Jimmy emotionally as well as physically. She over-protected Jimmy, and assuming he had had an abusive past, she pandered to his every whim - crippling Jimmy with love (really fear) like an overbearing parent who fosters the sort of dependence that doesn't allow trust and security to blossom in one's self. She had created her little "monster." And Jimmy, in turn, had succeeded in wrapping Shirley around his little paw.

The reason for Jimmy's separation anxiety was threefold: He definitely wanted to be heard. Leaving him behind, in his eyes, was unacceptable and unfair. Also, he hadn't developed healthy boundaries, and becoming Shirley's entire world, he worried about her and was frustrated when he couldn't protect her when she left. Lastly, he knew he had become Shirley's support and that she depended on his presence for her well-being. He would do whatever it took to keep her home and safe with him.

Through visual images, I explained to Jimmy that he now had an important job to do when left alone: guard the house. I psychically grounded him to Mother Earth, connected him up, past the stars and the moon, giving him the sense of a larger presence, so he could step out of his small, scared self. I then connected him to Shirley with a golden cord. They could always be together, even when miles apart. (They already were connected, as we all are, but this visual exercise creates a conscious intention for both of them.)

Sometimes rescues come to us with their own baggage, but other times we are the ones who largely contribute to the co-dependencies that result. Shirley had some homework to do.

Shirley called me two days later. She left Henry for over an hour for the first time in three years, and he was fine. She would increase her time away from him in increments until he could be alone for an entire day.

I asked Jimmy if there was anything else he wanted to add. He said, "I want to be a big boy."

A dog with separation anxiety
Separation Anxiety

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