The Dog Attack that Taught Me about Freedom

I barely felt the dog bites on my hands. My system was saying one thing, get to safety. This is what happens when we are human. We feel pain and we watch people and creatures we love feel pain. These are the experiences we need to constantly get better at approaching. We can’t avoid them, but we can bring more love and compassion to all this human difficulty we are always facing.

 

By Ruth Lera

It happened on a wintery, March day, while I was walking on the trail behind my house.

Out of nowhere, a dog I had never seen before barreled down the trail. I meet excited dogs along the trail all the time, so I thought not much of this moment, until a second later when it turned into a disaster. This strange dog started barking and then the unbelievable happened—he started biting Molly, my small corgi companion.

Of course, at first, I thought it was just two dogs having a slight skirmish, but within seconds it was obvious that the situation was developing into an attack. There was blood all over the late spring, snow, and it became clear that I might be watching my beloved canine friend being killed.

I must have been screaming frantically. It is hard to remember.

The fear response kicked in and my energy shifted to crisis mode. Kicking the attacking dog had no effect so without thinking I reached my hands into the attacking dog’s mouth and pulled his teeth out of my dog’s stomach. I picked up my bleeding pup and ran.

I had to get away. That was the only instinct driving my actions.

Get. Away.

I held my dog close to my chest and panting hard in the below -20 degree temperature, I ran. I felt like I was in a war zone. Everything in my body told me I was in danger.

I barely felt the dog bites on my hands. My system was saying one thing, get to safety.

This is what happens when we are human. We feel pain and we watch people and creatures we love feel pain. These are the experiences we need to constantly get better at approaching. We can’t avoid them, but we can bring more love and compassion to all this human difficulty we are always facing.

I am so grateful for the fear response that kicked in that day, as it meant I was able to save my dog’s life.  But of course, later that day, and for the days to follow the question I had to acknowledge was what to do with my felt experience of trauma that I felt coursing through my system? I could lash out at the owner of the dog or the attacking dog itself. I could feel like a victim or fill myself with blame and what-ifs of the situation. Or I could choose to heal and let it go.

This is the power of choice.

In the months that followed I started to notice I felt scared every time my dog and I were around a bigger dog. One time I even grabbed a big dog’s rope leash as he shot towards my little pup and got rope burns across my hand for my efforts.

I had to let the fear, memory and trauma go.

I lay on my yoga mat many times and just set the intention that all trauma from the dog attack was leaving my system. And then my body shook. The trauma literally coming out of my nervous system. I probably did this 10 or 12 times over the course of a couple years. Releasing and releasing and releasing some more.

This is what it means to become empty. To let go of everything.

I don’t want to say this dog attack was a small incident, as we love our canine companions dearly, but compared to losing a child or the horrors of refugee crisis we presently face, my dog being bitten, and surviving is a small trauma.

And I released it.

As we learn to release the small traumas, like the sadness of our children growing older, or even the end of summer becoming the darkness of winter; then we become better at letting go of the big things. Letting go of regret, bitterness, jealousy and fear is the greatest gift we can give to others.

When we hold on to resentment we lash out. When we hold on to trauma our words to others are filled with fear. This is just the way it is. Whatever is inside of us will pour out of us,

If our response is often anger, it means our insides are full of anger. It means we have responded with anger many times, and filled up our own being with anger, and now it is leaking out onto others. No judgement needs to be applied here, but if you don’t want to spill anger out onto other people then it needs to be released.

Don’t underestimate the power of intention.

If we set the intention that we no longer want to be filled with anger or fear or disappointment or neediness, whatever it is, then this is the result we will get. The way this result is found, will probably be unexpected, but it will come. And if we don’t fight the transformation, we will find that being empty of the trauma is a big, relief.

Pain has happened but it doesn’t need to be held on to.

And pain will happen again in the future, and it won’t need to be held on to either.

Let go of it all, this is the only way to become free.

 

Letting go of regret, bitterness, jealousy and fear is the greatest gift we can give to others. ~ Ruth Lera Click To Tweet

 

Photo: Pixabay

Editor: Dana Gornall

 

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