I am a country girl
I am definitely a country girl. I feel safe and comfortable with fewer people and more animals and fields. I would be happier to walk alone in a wood than walk down a busy high street. I know this and am very grateful that I live in a quiet village surrounded by countryside. This fact was really brought to my attention when my husband and I went to Wembley. We have been a few times before, but Jon wanted to be in the crowds on the pitch area [...]
This fact was really brought to my attention when my husband and I went to Wembley. We have been a few times before, but Jon wanted to be in the crowds on the pitch area – so no seats. I agreed knowing that this wouldn’t be my choice and that I may not be able to cope being surrounded by so many people, but I was willing to try.
So, we got the train into London, my stress levels are already slightly higher, checking the map to see what underground to use, what time and which platform – I am out of my comfort zone. I have been to London often, and I do love it, but it causes me stress as it’s not my normal. I have to concentrate more, and I worry about things I don’t usually. So I am in a heightened state, but this doesn’t mean I’m not excited as well, but my adrenalin is definitely pumping.
A few train changes and we then walk into Wembley. We work our way to nearish the front (well Jon would have been closer I’m sure) and I was doing ok. There was some space around us, and we started to enjoy the warmup acts. Over the next 2 hours more and more people were arriving and our space that we thought we have ‘claimed’ was shrinking. Then Coldplay come onto the stage, the crowd erupts and the dancing starts. I love dancing and was initially doing ok. Yes, I kept being bumped into by the surrounding crowd, but I was telling myself to keep calm! I was enjoying myself, but just really wanted a bit more space. My back started to complain that I had been stood up for many hours. All this started to ruin my enjoyment of the show and after about an hour, I told Jon I needed space. We managed to squeeze through the crowd and get to the edge. Fresh air!!! Wow I hadn’t realised how tense I had actually got, and the relief felt amazing. I was able to stretch my back, to have no one in my personal space and was actually able to see the stage clearer, so was able to finish to show feeling so much better.
However, my anxiety hadn’t finished yet. Because as the concert started to come to an end I was thinking about the underground. Most of these thousands of people will be leaving at the same time and all heading towards the station. The walk towards the station was a real challenge to me. Thousand of people all working their way around stairs, barriers, security staff and then a train platform and the train itself. Sardines came to mind. Jon was of course doing his best to help me, to sometimes create a barrier between other people. A few stations along, the train gained space and I was able to sit and travel back to the hotel.
So why did I put myself through this?
Simple; I choose to.
I knew that it would find parts of it challenging but the overall outcome would be enjoyment. Yes, being on the pitch area wasn’t for me, and yes if it was possible, I would choose not to do big crowds, but I really enjoy live music and I really wanted to see Coldplay.
So why I am telling you all this?
Well, it got me thinking about dogs that need space. We usually call these ‘reactive’ dogs. You’ve probably seen them or might have one yourself. These dogs when too close to a ‘trigger’ such as other dogs or people, will bark, lunge and react in a way that we would choose they did. Well. I felt like a ‘space’ dog during my trip, but the difference is that I choose to do it. I made the decision, I knew what was going to happen, I was able to plan ahead, I was also able to change my mind and move away when I needed to. I didn’t need to ‘bark’ to get space, I simply moved away or was able to talk to myself and keep calm and work through a situation, knowing there was an end coming.
What if I wasn’t given choice? What if I didn’t know what was happening? What if I couldn’t just move away and to make myself feel better? What if I was attached to another species that didn’t understand my communication? Now can you see why I am comparing my experience with that of a ‘reactive’ dog? A dog that struggles in certain situations. Dogs that aren’t given the choice. That aren’t understood and are just seen as disobedient?
Some dogs would prefer to be a county dog. Some dogs love the busyness of town life. Some dogs are social butterflies, some prefer their own space. I believe we can help either version of dog to adapt to living in any environment, to have skills to be around their ‘triggers’, but it may take time and understanding on how to help them cope if this isn’t easy for them. We also need to understand that they all have their own personality, and we should be their advocate, so they don’t have to experience daily stress.
Will I go to Wembley again? Yes!
Will I still probably struggle with the crowds? Yes!
Will I choose seats next time? Yes! (sorry Jon).
However, I gain confidence in that I have choice and know I will be with people that can help me if I need it. Your dog might need some help and support too, so watch, listen, are they doing ok with what you want from them? Do they need something more from you to reduce their stress? If you would like any support, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.