I’m honoured to be hosting this guest post by @ministryofmum- I won’t harp on too much as I don’t want my words to detract from what follows, which is a sublime piece of writing.
Black Dog Days by Claire Smith
Two years ago I got better. I’m strong. I’m exercising. I’ve been gentle on myself. I’ve made sure that I’m surrounded by good, positive friends. Heck, I’ve even cut down on crisps. I figured that an unhealthy mind needs a healthy body to support it and it’s been working. For a while.
So you can imagine my surprise when he came back, pawing at the door. I thought my defence was well-built against his ability to sniff out weakness. His sharp teeth would surely not find anything to feed on with me. Yet here he is licking my face, searching for a treat, wanting me to take him for a walk.
Black Dog doesn’t have a preference when it comes to owners. He just likes to spring up when least expected and surprise you with a wag of his tail. No matter how much you hide his lead, he will always find it and present it to you again and again until you acknowledge him. He’s relentless, he’s persistent and he’s determined. Literally, a dog with a bone.
It took me three days this time to let him in and pat his head. Three days, because I recognised him straight away and tried not to open the door. For three days I did everything I could to shut him out. It was frustrating and upsetting because he’d come from nowhere, like the whining, unwelcome visitor that he is. And he wasn’t going away.
I thought by ignoring him, not thinking his name and refusing him food that he would get bored and go elsewhere. But no, he’s too faithful for that. Black Dog recognises a friend in me and he wants to play.
This time, however, I was prepared. No matter what a shock his appearance was, I think deep down I always knew that he’d be back. I’m a good playmate, you see. Yet when I eventually got round to talking about him, it was a release. By calling his name, I was acknowledging that he is not a part of me, he is an outside creature that just likes to visit. I am not him and I’m certainly not going to let a beast define who I am.
I’ve been taking the necessary steps to train him. When he barks that I’m worthless, I’m a failure, that my life is small, that I’m not relevant – instead of feeding him, I’ve been understanding that it’s just noise, that his yapping is simply yapping and it’s not to be rewarded.
When he’s been tugging at my clothes, holding me back, I’ve been trying to make him sit and stay. It’s exhausting because he is so robust – but I’ve managed to tie him up whilst I’ve gone to do something to help me.
His vigorous bouncing and jumping has been pulling me down but by speaking to an expert, I’ve learnt some training techniques that hopefully will calm him and teach him to behave.
Black Dog is not going to chew up my life this time. I’m going to chase this mutt off before he buries me again. It’s not much fun for him when there’s another fighter in the pack, getting stronger by the day, hell-bent on being in control of their own mind.
He’ll put up a good fight I’m sure, but eventually he’ll slink away. I’ll get better and Black Dog will realise that, once again, there’s a new Alpha in charge.
The mongrel will be made to heel.