Adjusting to change: reframing our expectations

Freckle & Ceilidh waiting for dinner This is Freckle and Ceilidh waiting for their dinner last week. Is it ever a long way from the food crazed Boxer who arrived in our home in December and believed that she had to flatten Ceilidh in order to get her share of the dinner!

I’ve done a lot of thinking about change and how creatures adapt (or even thrive) when change happens. As they say, “Everything flows, nothing stands still” (Plato quoting Heraclitis in Cratylus apparently). I’ve written a couple of articles about how librarians in particular (I’m a librarian—for those who don’t know me) get through change… also called resilience. [See “The Resilient Librarian” and “Creativity and the Resilient Health Librarian”]. But getting back to dogs… when Freckle came to live with us she brought a mindset that said “when there’s food, be BIG and BAD to make sure you get some!” Ceilidh on the other hand, has always had as much food as she needs (notice I didn’t say “wants”) and so doesn’t feel a need to be big and bad—just impatient. So during the first couple of months that Freckle lived with us we had to deal with the “food crazies.” We had to be extremely cautious, keeping the two of them separated during meals and minimizing treats (poor Ceilidh!) to avoid triggering Freckle’s BIG and BAD response (which was very noisy and quite traumatic for all involved—especially Ceilidh).

One day I came across Freckle reading Plato’s Cratylus and highlighting the Heraclitis quote about how “everything flows.” She said that after some time to observe the routine, it’s obvious that there’s always lots of food… enough to fill her belly, make her sleepy and precipitate a nap. I was pretty impressed. This is just another example of the wisdom of dogs—Freckle has adjusted her response to fit her new situation.

How many triggers for BIG and BAD do you have? Do you still need to respond with BIG and BAD? Just think of the energy you could save if you adjusted your reaction to fit the current situation… which most likely has different circumstances than the one that originally triggered BIG and BAD for you (everything flows, remember?). This week, I’ve decided that whenever I feel BIG and BAD coming on, I’m going to make a point of looking carefully at the situation. Before I act, I’m going to ask myself if the circumstances still warrant BIG and BAD. And I’ve asked if I can borrow Plato’s Cratylus from Freckle, but she says she’s not finished with it yet. I probably won’t have time to get to it anyway.

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