By Pam Brown
Linda was exhausted. Her beloved part-airedale dog, Mani, had taken to barking outside the house most evenings, refusing to come indoors, keeping Linda awake night after night. It had gotten so bad that Linda was cancelling business appointments because she simply could not stay awake during the day.
Friends recommended tethering the free-spirited Mani to a chain, making her wear a shock collar or giving her away.
All of those options broke Linda’s heart, but she didn’t know what to do. “I just can’t go through another night of not getting any sleep,” she said.
When I tuned into Mani to let her know that her barking was keeping Linda awake all night, she was apologetic, but it was hard for her to consider coming indoors. The delicious feelings of complete joy and freedom that she experiences outside were overpowering, especially at night.
“I enjoy myself more in the dark because it’s mysterious. It’s kind of rabbity,” she said, showing me images of herself chasing imaginary rabbits. Linda said Mani is also excellent at keeping pigs off their property, a task in which the dog takes great pride.
“I’m sorry my barking annoys you so much,” she said. “I thought I was making joyful noise, but I did not know how barking affects people.”
When I shared with Mani the feeling humans have when we have not slept all night, she quickly understood the reasoning behind Linda’s request for quiet. Mani asked if she could stay outside and “bark quietly,” demonstrating to me how she would bark in “whisper tones.” We quickly reached agreement that would be fine.
The next step was getting Mani to come into the house most evenings, as she once had, when Linda called her. Mani said if she could exchange one form of joy for another, she would be willing.
Mani showed me that her only other favorite thing, besides being outdoors, was her emotional connection with Linda. She showed me images of herself curled up on a carpet indoors in the evening, while Linda sat nearby, and gave me the feeling of tremendous love and contentment in those moments.
I explained to Mani that Linda calls her in at night so they can spend that kind of quality time together. Mani had never before made the connection between being called to come in and her time spent with Linda.
It’s been several months since I spoke with Mani, and Linda tells me that Mani stays outside all day, barking to her heart’s content while waiting and watching for pigs. Then she comes inside every day around 5 p.m., to spend time with Linda.
“She is an amazing companion,” Linda says. “She’s a really important part of my life.”
- If you would like help communicating with the animal(s) you love, contact me Pam Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or (808) 651-3533 (Hawai‘i Standard Time).