I realised, as I was writing the introductory post, that there is a strange correlation between learning to love my dog, and learning to love my other passion, writing.
I've known for years that I loved writing, that it was something I wanted to do, someone I wanted to be. And at the beginning of last year, I decided once and for all that writing was something I was going to do, and I got serious.
Seriously infatuated. I read - no, devoured - websites of information, joined groups, talked with people, and generally absorbed anything on the topic that I possibly could. It was fun - it was exhilarating. I was spending time doing something I loved, and I was learning.
But then came the next stage: fear. I'd learned all these things, I knew all this stuff - and now I had to put it into practice. But I had no experience, no history, no first hand knowledge of how it worked - and I got scared. Suddenly, having to put words to paper every single day became the most labourious thing I'd ever attempted. The sheer pressure of having to be Productive drove away my creativity. My right brain went into hiding, and all that was left was my left brain, beating me around the ears and generally shouting at me to Do Something, or I would Fail.
I stuck with it, though, and gradually I passed into the next stage. I learned that writing is something you do with all of your brain, and that it's okay to be lax about the boundaries sometimes, and that above all else, writing is fun. I remembered how to play with words, and rediscovered the joy that that gave me.
And in rediscovering that joy, I found my passion - awakened, returned, and stronger than ever before - refined by the fire of my fear. With this renewed passion, that dreadful P word ('productivity') was no longer an issue; the words came, and it was fun. And when they didn't come, that was okay.
This is where I am still today. There may be further stages ahead; I don't know. I haven't been walking this road for long enough to judge. But regardless, the act of passing through, of conquering that fear and reuniting both halves of my brain has made me a better, stronger, wholer person.
And I would be completely oblivious to this entire process had it not struck me last night that I have gone through this exact same process with what I fondly refer to as 'dogging'.
In May last year, I became infatuated. I read everything the net had to offer on clicker training, on puppy feeding, on exercise and health and training and care routines. My husband was going through an extremely difficult time, and I was convinced that a puppy would be something to remind him that he was still loved, that he was still respected and looked up to - that, in general, at least one small fluffy creature thought the world of him.
In hindsight, I was right (which is both rare and lovely :D); the husband and the dog bonded immediately and have been mutual adorers since day one - even when, on day three, Dear Husband was confronted with a bathroom smeared in sloppy puppy poo from floor to as high as the dear twat could reach :o) (Hehe, I was away at a conference that day.)
For me, however, I now realise that the process has been akin to that of writing. I had the infatuation stage, which lasted for about the first few months.
But then the fear set in. All of a sudden she was growing, and growing fast, and our training fell behind where I knew it could be, and the pressure to be Productive mounted. Again, my creative, subconscious brain rebelled, fleeing to safety, and leaving me stressed by Yet Another Thing I Had To Accomplish.
Thankfully, the groundwork had already been laid, so dear Puppykins was perfectly unphased by the sudden drop in the amount of training she received, and continued to be a well-behaved and well-adjusted baby-pie - and of course, she still had the DH :o)
I certainly didn't neglect her - she was inside almost every day, I spent time with her, I worked with her every now and then at home, and took her to training once a week at the local dog club - but the fear, the pressure was still there (especially, and in a very big way, when we began showing).
But gradually, the pressure began to ease. My other brain returned, and I realised that raising dogs is like raising children: you'll never get it perfect, but you can get it good enough, and good enough really is good enough. And so the fear has passed. I've weathered the storm, I've been watered by the rain, and I've come out the other side a stronger, wholer person.
And now, I can't wait to get home to my dog :)