Trauma and my Dog Lyra by Zoe Rose
In that moment, Right then, I fell totally in love with her.
It was wales and the weather was torrential, We’d driven almost two hours across the border to wales with a special letter for essential travel.
Two large dogs in the boot, teenage daughter, armed with collar, lead, towel etc in the back and, us sat in the front. Nervous, as we drove the long way to the rescue centre, but, we were committed.
Not knowing what to expect, who to expect or how to cope with the enormity of a spur of the moment decision, We said we would, So we did.
All of us prayed that Ted wasn’t going to go schizo, He never did.
Arriving in Wales, in the middle of nowhere, in the torrential rain, with the whole family was a bit crazy. It was freezing, wet and unfamiliar.
We parked in the car park. An unkempt lot next to a road. Tyres lay in piles untouched for months, black bin bag dumped in the corner.
I stepped out into the cold, old puffa jacket on, and took a deep breath of welsh air. I skirted round the side of the small welsh cottage and arrived at a huge barn door with a slit for eyes. I rang the intercom and was received by a small dark haired welsh girl in wellies. Smiling, she let me in and led me to a shed/office and asked me if I wanted a seat. It was too cold to sit.
Two minutes later she reappeared and ushered me into a holding pen. Expecting a large dog, I was surprised by the small, skinny and scared bitch that I saw. In that moment, I fell in love with her. She was beautiful. Covered in sores, skinny and boney, wide eyed and frightened, she cowered in a corner. She wasn’t aggressive, she was frozen.
The girls man-handled her with confidence as they dressed her in a coat.
That was it. The defining moment. She was mine and vice versa.
The car journey was as to be expected, although Lyra showed increased interest in her surroundings, fascinated by what she saw; cars, birds, signs. It was clear that she was intelligent and sharp, using her senses to navigate through fear. She spotted a blue van heading towards us and followed it round almost turning full circle. Then she remembered that she was unsure and froze.
Once home, it was our turn to navigate unchartered territory as we attempted to gather three dogs out of the car and into the house. Lyra was carried like a small child into the house.
Trauma is defined through our experiences, How much trauma we suffer depends on how many adverse experiences we have and the effect that each experience has on us. The effects are deep, far reaching and long lasting. They differ from one experience to the next as we have different lives and different upbringings.
Some people may experience trauma once in their lives and others a myriad of times. But trauma is trauma. Trauma, unless dealt with
care and consideration, can have serious consequences on the human brain, or in Lyra’s case, the animal brain.
Lyra was my soulmate, In her, I saw myself, and the children I worked with.
What she was displaying was Flight, fight and freeze. I know this, I work with children who have suffered trauma, I am trained and have trained others in how to deal with it.
In the classroom…
Lyra is a dog, surely, it couldn’t be that different? Yes, ok, to the expert neurologist and academics, but to the ground forces? The people who deal with it and not just talk about it? There are similarities. Could my training prepare me for this? Yes absolutely.
In short, the brain navigates all our experiences by creating pathways. If those experiences are positive, such as a mother and her child, then a secure attachment is formed. When we suffer trauma, the pathway created is negative which then creates a negative response. If a child, or dog, experiences violence and abuse then that’s what they come to expect. This then causes the fight, flight, freeze response that we see. By creating new pathways, we can overlay the negative ones, but it takes time and careful handling.
However, this is not a book about trauma or science. It is my personal memoirs. This is also not a book about my own personal life trauma. However, I will give you a small synopsis. I have fibromyalgia, complex ptsd, a tick, ocd, anxiety etc… so they say. I have experienced five adverse childhood experiences which makes me … me. I also have ADHD. I think that I fight, but more likely sing, dance and go crazy. I am 4 7, so mostly crazy means singing, dancing and having a couple of glasses of wine. Some people may think that’s fun. It is.
The horrible part about my trauma is seizures. I can’t sleep, sit, lie down, or do anything without constantly moving. It’s hell. I worked until it got unmanageable and fell asleep at the wheel… twice. That’s why Lyra and my boys are so important.
End of first chapter. I need to get dressed. We are attempting the near
impossible. We are taking three dogs for a walk.