Late last night the dogs were tootling around in the living area of the house. I was in bed, but could hear them making their before-bed rounds. I wasn’t paying that much attention. Maizey had a good day yesterday, but suddenly she hit high alert. She started pacing, and panting. She got that pop-eyed whale look and her jaw was so tight the corners of her mouth were pulled back practically into her ears. A lot of time when she triggers suddenly like that I sit back and let her have a chance to work it out. Lot’s of times she accesses a skill like getting on her mat, choosing to lay in her crate with the door open where she can see me, or if all fails she’ll come curl up on my face. (That’s her policy, “When all else fails, smother mom!”)
After a few minutes I could see she was escalating, not calming down so I asked her to come and lay with me. That was a total no-go and instead she stood at the end of the bed, shuffling her feet and looking towards the living room. It was about that point I noticed Magnus wasn’t in the room with us, definitely a strange occurrence.
I got up and asked her to show me what was bugging her. She led me straight into the living room where Magnus was laid out in the middle of the hard wood floor. That in itself was not so weird so I asked again for her to tell me what was wrong. She stayed hovering over Magnus who still had not moved. Now that was starting to look strange and I have to admit I did a little panic attack in my head. It was just that dramatic split second where everything he’s been through in the last week flitted through my head ending in the thought that he’s dead. (I told you it was dramatic!)
After that split second of insanity I leaned down and started petting him. He was awake and not dead (of course) but he didn’t want to move. He was all stretched out on his side and I’m sure he’d had a back spasm while they were scurrying around and just froze there. He’s been having a few back spasms and when he does he stretches himself out as long and flat as possible and then just stays where he is. I have to wonder if it’s because he gets a little scared to move afterwords. It must be weird and it’s not like I can explain to him why it’s happening.
The whole time I was petting and massaging Magnus my Princessface just hovered over us. When I helped him get up and move onto the bed she immediately came and settled with us and went to sleep. Her job was done. Her brother wasn’t feeling good and she got her mom to come take care of it. Problem solved! She’s such a little mother hen. No matter who it is that’s in pain, emotional or physical, she’s there to take care of them. She’s my little emotional empath. I love her so for it. Especially as I know it’s hard on her and causes her worry.
I really get that about her, I’m the same way in human terms. (Let me just acknowledge this is some gratuitous anthropomorphizing, but human emotions and words are the only ones I have to describe what I see in her so they’re they ones I’ll use. If you’d like you can just crack it up to poetic license.)
So back to how I relate to my girl. I’ve seen Maizey reach out to comfort people that most people don’t dare to. You know the stoic types, that are intimidating to approach, never admit they need comfort so are very hard to empathize with. Maizey doesn’t care if YOU think you need comfort. If she sees a problem she’s gonna smother you out of it, or at the least tell me to take care of it, like she did last night with Magnus.
I have that affliction too. It’s hard to for me to see someone hurting and not do something, say something, try to help in some way. Like her I tend to see, or think I see, pain that people don’t admit and, admit it or not, I want to help. Being that kind of insightful person takes a toll. It’s tiring sometimes. It’s not rewarding sometimes, because sometimes people just don’t want smothered into comfort, so they reject your efforts. Sometimes people are distracted and don’t see your efforts to help, and sometimes as happens with myself and Maizey, they really don’t need your help. In which case the smothering is met with little tolerance.
Then there are those times when circumstance won’t let me offer comfort. And the times when there just really isn’t anything I can do. I hate those times the most. No matter who it is, or why they’re suffering I hate it as much as Maizey does and I wish I could always do something, no matter what.
But sometimes people listen and are comforted, sometimes when I try to help I actually have the right words at the right time, sometimes I actually manage to reach out to the right person to provide help when I can’t do the job. In those times I’m glad I’m like Maizey. Still, I need to be more like her- I need to learn when the job is done and just let it go, curl up and go to sleep.