Duke is our foster dog. A big, sweet boxer he was adopted by our son Jeff and they set off to live happily together in Los Angeles. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Duke is simply not a hustle and bustle sort of guy. L.A. stressed him to bits, so Jeff made arrangements for him to go to Texas to live with our eldest son Bill and his lovely wife Felicia. Unfortunately, they are not able to welcome him into their home for a few months yet, so Duke has come to brighten up our lives for a few months. Sounded like a plan.
So, Duke arrived in Milwaukee to the absolute delight of our permanent resident boxer, Indy. They got along from day one and Duke has begun settling in. Then we started to really get to know him. While Duke is good-natured and sweet, communicating was something of a problem. He had no signal that it was time to go outside, he would just wait until one of us opened the door and follow us outside. Okay as far as it went, but we were worried that he was not having all of his needs met.
Then one morning, at the very silly time of around 5 am I heard this odd sound. It sounded as though someone was slapping a leather chamois, very, very quickly and it was happening right by my head. Huh? Well, I have gotten used to opening my eyes every morning to the sweet expression of Duke staring at me with his golden eyes. This morning he wasn’t staring at me. He was flipping his head from side to side with amazing speed and it was creating this very loud flapping sound. It actually made me laugh because it was so strange and loud. So I got out of bed. The moment my feet hit the floor, Duke took off at a run. He needed to go outside and he had just found the way to tell me! Good boy Duke!
Now I was tickled that Duke had learned to communicate this very basic need to me. My hope is that the Reiki he is getting every day, along with simply getting to know him better and encouraging his trust is helping him to feel confident expressing himself in new ways. At least new ways for him. The life coach in me is tickled beyond belief by this bit of progress. Communication can take time, it can be a tricky process and it’s one of the things that I work on with most life coaching clients on an ongoing basis.
The progress continues. Duke has now decided that ear flapping worked so well to signal the need to go outside first thing in the morning, it now also means that he is starving and needs food immediately, please. Okay, Duke, okay. I get it.
Duke only uses this signal first thing in the morning. He prefers around 5 am or so. I’m going to continue to coach him by responding to his request in a positive manner. Hopefully, as time goes on we will be able to understand each other at other times. There’s no doubt in my mind that Duke is communicating with me, telling me when he wants outside when he wants his ears scratched, etc. While I’m picking up some of these signals, I’m not understanding all of them, yet.
We’ll continue to work together, my new buddy Duke and me. He’s a very good student, watching Indy and our interaction all of the time. Clearly, he has his own style of communication and it’s my intention to understand him a bit better each day.
Really, this same event is unfolding in our lives on a regular basis. The dynamics of our relationships change and our way of communicating evolves. What worked yesterday may not work today. What works for one person may not work for another. I believe the key is continually keeping a positive attitude, making it clear that there is an intention to understand and communicate. Be aware of what our facial expression, body posture, and tone of voice are saying to our companions. These are all direct forms of communication and we are using them constantly.
As for me and Duke, I’m sort of hoping that he’ll decide he likes to sleep in, something around 5:30 or 6 would be swell. But at the moment, I’m not going to do anything to discourage our new understanding. He’s a sweet boy and I’m very happy that we are beginning to understand one another.
I wish you a fabulous day of clear communication with everyone in your life.