The Pandemic Puppy we purchased as what we needed to get through COVID and “the last thing I’ll ever ask for Mom, I swear,” has delivered misery in equal measures to joy.

Enzo only wants to pee and poo leash-free, on his own property. The designer-priced trainer we engaged (as though the bastard mutt were a carefully thought out poodle) instructed me to take him and his full bladder for a walk first thing in the morning.

Down to the pee and poo area in our neighborhood we went each morning at dawn in twenty- degree weather. After twenty minutes of putzing, certain a moment more would lead to emergency amputation of my fingers, I’d give up and walk Enzo back to our front lawn where he promptly lifted his leg.

Two days ago, at seven am, Enzo running circles in his crate, I suited up. Double layers, wool socks, my long down coat, and heavy gloves. I slipped my phone in my pocket and donned big headphones that covered my ears like earmuffs; I might as well be entertained.

I was not going to be bested by an eight-month-old puppy. I didn’t care how Alpha he thought he was; He was not going to win.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t roll over at night without having to get up and pee. I peed three times before Enzo and I left and by mile marker two, I had to go again. But not Enzo.

To make matters worse, I’d plugged my phone in the night before to a charger not connected to an outlet, so my phone was dead. With no option of stuffing someone else’s thoughts and ideas into my brain, it was just me and Enzo crunching snow on the open trail.

Maybe it was the extra space in my brain that allowed the epiphany. Alpha dogs pee on everything, everywhere. Enzo wasn’t peeing at all.

Trudging along, holding my own pee, I watched Enzo’s hackles go up at distant barks, his tail lower at dogs wagging by, and it hit me. Enzo wasn’t being stubborn. Enzo was afraid.

He didn’t have to pee because his sympathetic nervous system was on overdrive. The natural stress response of his body told him it wasn’t time to relax and relieve himself. And though he was on a suburban walking path laden with chocolate labs and golden retrievers, he believed he had to have his guard up.

Enzo’s body works no different than mine or yours when it comes to being on high alert. Like Enzo, we unconsciously throw our bodies into survival mode when it would behoove us not to …like anytime we’re not literally being chased by a lion or running out of a house fire.

You know that person you’re having a beef with? The one who hurt you? The one who looks at things differently than you do? Or the one you’re worried for? Or the one you feel “less than”? When you’re feeling insecure, talking about others, judging, secretly wishing harm, or ringing your hands, you’re allowing the reptilian part of your brain to take charge, and it’s not cut out for the long-term employment your offering.

Abby Havermann

I’m Abby Havermann, an Author, Speaker, and Coach focused on inspiring women to claim the value-driven, meaningful and impactful personal and professional lives they’re meant to live. I enjoy a good book, a dry glass of wine, a difficult hike, an occasional Netflix binge, and learning from my Humble Pie moments in life to grow myself and others so we can work together toward the greater good.

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