Our Dog Boyd

Boyd came to live with us a day before New Zealand went into a state of emergency due to COVID-19. Our previous dog, Marlow, has just passed a week prior, and I was devastated. I knew that I needed to adopt another dog to fill the void. I was in a bad place at the time, still recovering from a concussion and my mood started to slide into a depressive episode. I found Boyd on the Dog Rescue Dunedin (DRD) website and instantly felt a connection to him when I read his profile. It was probably due to the fact that Boyd has had a difficult life prior to being put up for adoption. He has lived with 3 other foster homes, and things has not panned out well for him. I emailed the DRD coordinator (whom will be referred to as Donna) to enquire about Boyd, and she rang me on a Saturday evening. From the start, Donna was apprehensive and tried to describe how Boyd is like behaviourally; how he is anxious with other dogs, how he requires someone to slowly build a bond with; she told me about him being at 3 other foster homes. She describes that he will whine and howl loudly during walks if there was another dog in sight. Somehow, I knew Boyd would be the perfect dog for someone like me. He was unloved and traumatised in his youth. It was almost like I wanted to protect him so that in some way, I could recover from my own traumatic experiences.

Marlow and Hugo

Within a couple of days, I met Boyd and brought him out for walks, to get acquainted with him. Boyd came to visit my home and was slowly introduced to our four cats, just to see if he would tolerate them: which he did, almost perfectly. The whole adoption process happened very quickly, and Boyd came to live with us on the 24 March 2020. I spent a lot of time with him at home, working with him to get him settled. He was very anxious. I had about 8 months with him at home because I was recovering from a concussion and then in June 2020, I took time off work for almost 4 months before going back to full time work in December 2020. Boyd brought some calm in my life at that difficult time, and I knew that he too, found solace being with me. Throughout this period from the 24 March to November 2020, Boyd has bit into the aluminium window lock and jumped out the window, twice. Once was within the first 2 weeks of him moving with us. It was a windy night and our house rule about dogs is that, the bedroom is off limits. He settled quite well the first 6 days, sleeping in the living room on his own, until that windy night. That was the first time he bit and broke the window lock and jumped out. I woke up the next morning to a broken window and a missing Boyd. Luckily, he didn’t go far. He decided to take shelter at a bus stop just two doors down. He has been sleeping with us since that night.

This pattern of escape continued from the beginning. Just when my partner and I thought that he has finally settled and feel comfortable that we will always come home after work. When I went back to work in December of 2020, I constantly worry that Boyd would hurt himself, escape our back yard (which he has numerous times)… mending the broken fence each time has not deterred him. We couldn’t keep in alone in the house because he would break the window and jump out. Our garage is under the house, it’s quite a height and we didn’t want him to hurt himself. We’ve had neighbours put in complaints of him whining and howling to the city council while we are away at work.

Boyd is very attached to us now, especially me. I’ve noticed that his anxiety has gotten worse to the point that he cannot bear being on his own in the living room, even for 10 minutes if I move to the bedroom. There was an incident where I caught him just in time from jumping out the window again, when I was in the bedroom with my partner, putting fresh bed sheets on. We were away for only 10 mins.

Boyd is suffering. I know how that feels. He wants to be with us, love us, but the more he bonds with us, the more petrified he is of losing us because that is probably all he has known his entire life. He is 10 years old now, and I can’t bear to see him so stressed and anxious all the time. It’s cruel. It’s true what dog behaviourists say about dogs like Boyd: there are two categories: those that can be rehabilitated and those that are just broken.

I have to let him go. He will be in a better place very soon. We love you Boyd.

Me and Boyd

For more photos of our cats, Marlow and Boyd, visit our instagram page at: https://www.instagram.com/scorpioneolee/

There is Kindness in this World

Sorry for going quiet for almost 3 weeks. Works has been hectic and stressful since I started 40 hour work weeks since March 1st. I will try to write more often. But, it might be quite scattered for the next couple of months until I find my footing again, juggling a psychology paper and full time work.

When you have a childhood that is riddled with abuse, I guess, it’s only natural to grow up untrusting and cynical about everything that happens in life. Growing up, I craved acknowledgement and acceptance and was willing to bend over backwards for anyone who was willing to be my friend. I would go out on a limb to help a friend in need, never expecting anything in return. I learned to never ask for help, because I believed that I wouldn’t get any. The voice in my head would tell me: “Your own parents don’t even care for you, what makes you think that a friend would want to help you?” Despite believing this, I would still help those that I consider as close friends, because I know what it is like to not feel loved. I did not want my close friend to feel unloved, uncared for as well.

As a young adult, I eventually started to realise that my insistence of helping and always being there for my close friends at the expense of my own needs, was not a healthy way to maintain friendships or romantic relationships. My need to feel accepted and loved was so strong that I sacrificed my own needs to fulfil needs of those that I care most. Since moving to NZ, I have not had many opportunities to foster close friendships. I used to think that it is mostly due to cultural differences, but, lately, I am starting to realise that I have erected a wall in my heart, not wanting to feel ‘abandoned again’ by close friends that I have experienced most of my life. This feeling of ‘abandonment’ is probably just my inability to logically process or look at situations in a different perspective. Most times, I get blindsided by my amygdala (emotional brain), which takes over and the pre-frontal cortex (rational brain) gets stifled and muzzled. It all boils down to my anxieties about social relationships and what is expected of me to be a good friend.

My work has been stressful, but for the first time in my adult life, have I experienced genuine support and care for my well-being from my work colleagues. Since my depressive episode mid of 2020, I have been open to my colleagues about my mental health struggles and they have offered support and assistance on a daily basis, always checking in on me and asking how I’m coping with work. It still all just feels very surreal to me, and my cynical mind goes into overload, my critical/suspicious voice in my head tells me that these gestures of support can’t be sincere. But, I think tonight, I am going to bury this voice away into the deep recesses of my mind and accept the kindness that is being shown to me on a daily basis and to practice gratitude. Also, at the same time, I am going to allow myself to grief for the lost childhood and to feel the sadness that I feel because my parents did not extent the same kindness to me as how my colleagues have the past couple of weeks. Things are getting better.

When to Maintain Boundaries in Relationships

I recently felt the need to block a close friend on a chat messaging app because our friendship has started to feel tenuous and strained. I do feel some sadness that our friendship has come to this, but, I have decided that my mental well-being is more important at this stage of my life than in trying to maintain this friendship. I have tried my best to be a supportive friend to her/him, but, I think I have fell short to fulfil her/his expectations of me and what friendship means to this person.

This post is my way of reaching out to this person because I do not feel I could unblock her/him and say what I needed to say to her/him in person. As this person is a friend I trust, I have shared my blog with her/him and I hope she/he will get this message. I wish you well and I hope for the best in your life’s journey. But, I think it is best for me to keep a boundary of distance between us for an indefinite time.