The definition of the assistance dog role is that of a partnership between a human and dog. Once formed both partners rely on trust in the other to provide what they need and eventually this trust becomes intuitive and enriching as they begin understanding what makes each other happy. Ok this is perfection and I know there are always blips on the way but you review, practice and move on learning more about each other along the way!
Trusting in another and developing a relationship where both parties gain from a friendship can be tough to achieve for those of us who live in a ‘mental health goldfish bowl‘ ( see below) *. You may be thinking about the discipline side of dog training and I agree- a happy unstressed dog needs to know that their human is totally in charge. However after this rule is set my partnership with Angus has become a fantastic experience. Learning to work together brings much needed confidence and physical support during the blips. An added bonus is that like an old married couple we begin to interpret what the other needs and wants- a trusting relationship!
The heavy stuff- if you want to read it!
This post may seem strange and a little hurtful to anyone who has not experienced this peculiar existence. Especially if they are close family and friends. If this applies to you-please be assured that this does not reflect on you, for you have probably put in a huge amount of work and care towards your loved one. It is simply a part of many mental health conditions to appear distant- in reality we often feel inferior and are scared of potential rejection preferring to run from investing too much trust in anyone…even ourselves! The inferiority fearing brain can become hard wired to go into overcompensation mode, desperately focusing on the other party and doing everything to take attention away from self.
* there is no collective term that I am aware of to effectively describe how it feels to live in a world where someone can either feel on show for being different or iscollated and alone even in a crowd- cut off by an invisible wall from every thing and every one that you love. So, for now I will call it the ‘mental health goldfish bowl‘ .