Desensitisation: 3 immediate benefits of dog ownership
Satya knows I’m the pack leader. She follows me around with a codependent face, and howls when I’m gone. We’ve hardly been together for two weeks and she sticks like Velcro.
She is a bit of a boss too. I can’t lie in anymore as she has to go for her walk early each morning. She is a greyhound which means our strolls are not exactly leisurely (think sprints @ 40mph in Hyde Park).
And since I’m an efficiency freak I squeeze jogging and yoga sequences in between. An hour later we run home for breakfast.
People warned me dogs are a serious commitment, that they take up your time. If my experience is anything to go by, dogs actually give me time. They release hidden pockets of idleness back into my day.
What’s more, my skin complexion looks healthier after all the vitamin D I’ve absorbed. My cardio too, is improving with all the running, chasing and tug of war.
That’s the genius of it
I wouldn’t even call it a habit. Habits require discipline to maintain. Taking care of a dog is not a habit; it’s a job you can’t escape from. A job that is actually good for you.
So no, dogs don’t take time. They take effort. Mind you, not all effort is hard. Want to know how I feel when I pet Satya? The excerpt below is a good approximation.
Deep down, we never forget that once we were connected with the world, and in the depth of the sense touch the longing to reconnect with that original world remains alive. That is why the need always remains to express all intimacy through the sense of touch. We keep hoping we will enter this world by means of touch after all, but we always come up against a wall.
~Albert Soesmann, Our Twelve Senses
(Is there any wonder why touch screens are so addictive?)
Often I have no idea what I’m doing. I haven’t learned how to get her to do basic things, like wait and stay down. Dog trainers have prospered in London but I can’t afford one right now.
Our main challenge is separation anxiety. She won’t let me go far before she alerts the entire block with her howls. I received two calls yesterday when I left her for ten minutes.
I read about the need to desensitise them by progressively longer absences. Desensitisation works with humans too. Several years ago I did Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to treat my OCD. The therapist had me place my hand down a public toilet and then into my mouth. Several times.
Turns out having a dog is good for my OCD. She kisses my face after cleaning her rear-end. She lies on my pillow and farts on my face. I’ve desensitised alright.
Is this why doctors prescribe dogs?