Sep 20, 2020
My mom owns a Golden-Doodle named Lola.
Lola and I have a rocky relationship. To begin with, I’ll be honest, I’m not crazy about dogs and also, because my mom bought Lola about a week before she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I associate her existence with that painful time. Many of us in the family felt like she should find a new home for Lola due to the situation. She was a puppy, a sick puppy on steroids because of a skin condition. Mom had gotten her for a good price due to her illness. She wasn’t house trained and she frequently vomited, pooped and peed in the house.
Mom refused to give her up.
So Lola stayed and I’ve just learned to tolerate her. When I come for my week-long visits I take her for a walk most mornings. She is not fun to walk. She PULLS on the leash or unexpectedly turns in front of me and nearly trips me. Sometimes she lunges toward other dogs and people. I do it for the exercise – for both of us and because it’s a good time to listen to a podcast.
Last week during my visit, my brother and his wife both individually told me what they had discovered when walking Lola:
“Just put the harness on her, and take the leash with you, but don’t use it. Grab the harness if you need to keep her close to you” My Sister-in-law told me. “She does better without the leash”, my brother said.
I was very skeptical, but the next morning I tried it.
I noticed a difference immediately. She actually stayed closer to my side off the leash than she did with it on! When she started to wander off a little I called her name and she came right back over. We even came upon two cats, when she saw them she first looked at me and I said “Come here Lola” and took hold of her harness. There was no lunging, no barking.
I felt myself enjoying our walk and guess what else? I even felt myself liking Lola.
This experience reminded me of one with my Dad last Winter. No one was home but me and him, and I was getting ready to leave. There was going to be about 1/2 hour that he would be home alone before my mom got home from a bridal shower she was attending up the street.
When I went to tell Dad I was leaving I found him sitting crooked in his big recliner. It looked to me like he was sliding down and eventually would end up on the floor. I suggested to him that he straighten up and sit more squarely in the chair. He didn’t like me telling him what to do.
“Dad”, I explained, “I’m leaving and you’re sliding out of the chair. What if you end up in a heap on the floor?”
His reply, “Then I end up in a heap on the floor. Go.”
I decided to trust him and let go. I knew if I pushed it further, he would only resist harder. So I kissed him good bye and I left, knowing that if Mom found him on the floor she could call the fire department. It was kind of becoming a regular thing for them.
Dad didn’t end up on the floor. Mom told me that when she got home he was sitting up in his chair, so at some point he had adjusted himself.
Turns out letting go was good for both of us. I learned I always have the choice to trust my Dad, even when the situation looks dire. I learned that his need to be heard is far more important than my need to control, even when I was doing so for his safety. He used his own power to straighten himself in the chair, to “save” himself. This is so meaningful to a Loved One with limited independence. Being directed all the time is no fun.
Kind of like being pulled around.
Sometimes, we just have to let go of the leash.
P.S. As Caregivers we want so badly to keep our loved ones safe and prevent problems. Having control feels so necessary. But actually letting go brings more freedom. Sound impossible? Schedule a FREE 45 minute session to find out how it is absolutely possible! Clink the link below: