Unpacking Trauma

Roddie; our beloved Corgi boy; the Prince of Yodel-ville… the Rod Man…. suffered a trauma. Even though he is now home, gaining weight, getting stronger, and reconnecting with the sights and sounds of home…. he is not done. He is still unpacking his trauma.

We see it on our morning walks. He is much slower due to losing muscle tone and pain due to physical issues around the site of his bite when he was attacked by a neighbor’s dog walking on his morning walk on 11-9-2019. The vet saw trauma on his x-ray that appears to be a ruptured knee sac, and believes there is ligament and tendon damage. He also has a broken fibia…… those jaws were powerful.

We see it in his interactions with other dogs and humans. Once, he was outgoing and engaged with anyone and everyone; dogs, cats and humans alike. Now, he holds back and doesn’t approach, even looking wary of those who approach him. Once he is petted, he begins to soften but the playful light in his eyes is not always present.

We see it in his interactions with his fur siblings. When he returned home he had a skin infection and the odor was pungent and his siblings didn’t recognize him due to his odor. There were weeks of avoidance between the kids and he was not in his leadership role. Over the last two weeks, he has begun to emerge back into his dominant role and is being the silent general. He is letting them know if their play is too much and he will stand up, walk in between them, and let them know to knock it off!

We see it in how he relates to the scents and sounds around him. He gets a distant look on his face and even when called to come; he doesn’t respond. There are times when he is outside that he just sits and looks off into the distance.

He shows signs of hypervigilance on his morning walk. He reacts to every sound; a dog barking inside a house or off in the distance, looking under cars, sniffing the road, looking behind him and he still reacts to the sounds of doors opening, His pace will quicken and he immediately is back into flight mode. Starring straight ahead and just trying to go. It is in those moments where we stop walking, call his name and put our hands on him and affirm his safety. We wait until his eyes return from flight mode and we turn him around to let him see there is nothing behind him and he is not being attacked.

Unpacking trauma is a lengthy and individual process. Roddie is making strides everyday as he reclaims pieces of himself that have taken a seat in the back row. Healing will happen… how much….. when….. are to be determined. What it will take is patience, love, understanding, and a push at the right time to not stay stuck in the trauma but continue to unpack it and move through it.

People experience trauma in very similar ways. The one thing that separates fur babies from people is that we have the ability to use our words and our insights to move through the trauma. Talking it out, getting a coach to validate the trauma and to provide a healing space to unpack the trauma is crucial. A coach can offer you support to confront the your fear so you can unpack the trauma and reclaim the pieces of you that are in your back row.

If you are ready to unpack a traumatic life event that is holding you back from reclaiming who you are…. I would be honored to be there for you. To schedule your free / complimentary session; click the link below.


Living Past The Trauma

I got the voice message the morning of November 9th. That day is, for now, emblazoned in my mind. “I can’t find him!” Those were the only words that I could understand through the panicked tears trying to tell me what had happened. Fear ripped through my heart and my breath stopped for a second. WHY hadn’t I taken my phone with me when I went out for my morning walk? HOW could I have missed this call? WHY was on the mountain and not there to help?

When I regained some composure I called back to hear my wife explain that she and our fur babies were attacked on their morning walk by a neighbor’s dog who came out of their house, ran across the yard, into the road, and to the other side of the street to get to them. My wife tried to protect our three kids by getting in front of them and trying to pull them back; while they tried to get in front to protect her. She sustained multiple bites while trying to protect and defend. What had happened next is now the worst day of our lives.

Our 10 year old Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Roddie; became the target. The dog went around my wife and grabbed Roddie by the back leg and clamped down. The owner had to pry his mouth off of Roddie and when he did that Roddie bolted. In his panic and pain, he ran down the road and down our driveway. For a brief moment, my wife was relieved thinking he was headed home. As the neighbor had to hold his dog back so he wouldn’t continue to attack; my wife and the kids ran after Roddie. She couldn’t believe that when she got to our porch; he wasn’t there. She put the girls in the house and took off through the woods. As she got to the end of the easement ….he had vanished.

I can’t explain how we survived the next agonizing 24 days without our boy. We followed every lead. I stayed awake at night, until my body betrayed me; with porch lights on, gates opened, watching the doors for his face to look back at me. Our tribe, known and unknown surrounded us. We collectively walked the woods multiple times, in freezing rain and frigid temperatures, put up signs, went door-to-door handing out flyers; trying to hear his bark. We hired pet communicators, trackers and a friend paid for drones to fly over. We put an ad in the paper that we kept running, and our local radio station picked up the story. We bought more duck tape and clear tape and poster boards than I have in my whole life, our friends pitched in to make copies of flyers and buy more poster board and make signs. A friend offered his online ad spot to us and a dear soul created an online ad that would flash up anytime someone googled an animal site. We started a GoFundMe page that demonstrated the Compassion in Action and Generosity of loved ones, friends, and strangers which also included financial support by friends and family personally. ! I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t rest, and my new business and all social engagements stopped. Collectively, it was #BRINGRODDIEHOME. That became our facebook community and WOW did they love and pray our boy home!

He is now home; safe, loved by his mommas and fur sisters and loved and supported medically by his first momma; who was his breeder and is now his vet. He lost at least 20% of his body weight; our first weight on him was not accurate to his inability to stay still. Flight mode takes a while to release. He is unpacking his trauma every day. He was different when we found him; eyes that looked right through you, covered in feces and stench, more skittish, exhausted, skinny, fragile, unable to stand for long periods of time, falling off his back end and his skin infection was so massive that even after several baths; a slight smell still lingers, a major slash across his neck signified the effort he made to leave the place he was tethered and ligaments around his original attack on his back leg was weak.

Roddie, and most animals, adjust to trauma much quicker than we humans. Every day he is more confident and the pack readjusted and is more comfortable. Roddie is eating well, is gaining pounds incrementally and has regained some strength. He still sleeps alot and is still on medication, albeit less, and doing laser treatments to heal his neck and his ligaments. All and all… we see improvement every day as he continues to sigh deeply and unpacks and releases his trauma.

The mommas are finally able to incrementally reclaim our work, our social lives, our home, and our schedules; while living with the trauma. Trauma just doesn’t go away when the storm is over. We are learning to live past the trauma and to adjust to a new normal that may stay new or gravitate back to the old way. Our main goal now is to offer love and stability to the pack and loving patience to Roddie so he is free to heal on his time schedule. We assure him that he is loved through all of it; no matter how long it takes. Our trauma comes in various forms. We have nightmares, find ourselves avoiding the place of the trauma, preparing for future threats, being over protective, and a desire to circle our wagons and stay to ourselves because, we have always felt safe here; and now, there has been a breech in our belief that we can protect our fur babies from threats.

I believe in the power of love and that love came to us abundantly from our community, our friends, and our loved ones. So we push back against the trauma because we have been bombarded with loving and supportive messages, calls, and on the ground support. Instead of staying circled behind the wagons, we have let people in and that is how we made it through this. Not alone and not by ourselves, we are still standing because we have been hugged, loved, and prayed through this experience that will leave us different. That difference is knowing that there are WAY more Angels around us than evil.

I thank God for that; as well as St. Anthony, St. Francis, and St. Rita who did God’s work as they were sent to do on Roddie’s behalf.