Let’s figure this out and learn ways to play with each other. Life lessons from a tiny dog. At the beginning of our stay at home and shelter in place orders I was full of enthusiasm. I was eager to use this time to get projects done. I was going to read, write, paint, organize, and complete a host of important accomplishments. I had such great ambitions. Instead, we got a puppy.

Those of you who follow my Facebook posts on my Jonathan Rudinger page have watched our little brindle boxer as she grows, naps, develops play skills with Ilaria (our 3 year-old), and reveals her gentle beauty and quirky sense of humor. If you missed meeting Margot Frecklefoot, come on in. She’s a delight. I’ve heard from hundreds of people that her photos and videos have brought much needed joy into their lives.

Margot received her first PetMassage when she was 8 weeks old. Our school had an open position of demo dog/ canine massage teaching assistant in training. She immediately applied for it. She was so enthusiastic and showed such potential, we hired her on the spot. Besides, she also knew the right people; had all the right connections. Her headshot is already on the website: https://petmassage.com/about/

Margot Frecklefoot is currently only 12 weeks old. Each day she grows. Each day she learns -or remembers- new skills.

When we take walks they are exercises in becoming. Every once in a while she stops in her tracks. Her forelegs stiffen like chubby little tent stakes, and she refuses to move forward until she has thought about and processed whatever she just saw, heard, felt, or thought.

Most everyone we meet gushes over her. She’s little, pretty, adorable, soft, cuddly, friendly, and gives all the right signals to illicit a friendly response. She basks in all the love, attention and appropriately directed adoration.

Yesterday however, her sparkling eyes and wiggly tail didn’t work. A jogger passed us by without acknowledging her.

Margot was stunned! She stopped. Her little forehead wrinkled as her head swiveled from side to side. She dug in and refused to move forward until she had made sense of it. I knew that attempting to move her before she was ready was futile. She had done the same with leaving our yard, with walking to the car, with the first time on a cement sidewalk, with tree stumps, sniffing flowers and fresh scents on lawns and bushes from other dogs.

When she was finally ready, she relaxed and we resumed our walk. It’s fascinating to observe how she is constructing the emotional foundation for the rest of her life. What a wise little dog!

I’m learning so much from her. One lesson is about taking the time to process things that are new. What just happened? What does it mean? How does this apply to my life view and what I know?

There are lots of things that are going on in each of our lives right now that are new. Many/most are confusing. There are a lot of easy to believe confident sounding voices voicing conflicting versions of what’s going on. Lots of people saying we are all in this together but with agendas that are clearly encouraging dissension.

We need energetic filters just like we need face masks. We need to remember to pause and consider. We need to use little Margot’s “take a moment to process” to decide what to accept and what to disregard.

Margot’s technique for making sense of it all works. She’s figured out how to figure it out. We can apply that same curiosity and patience with ourselves in our canine massages. Lets give ourselves permission to pause mid-stroke or mid-squeeze or mid-lift, to listen and practice discernment.

In my practice, I use my own body as a surrogate. I can be sure of what I feel in my own body whereas I can only project what is happening with the dog. Objective vs. subjective.

I ask myself, or open my awareness for, what am I feeling? Do I feel grounded? How are we (the dog and I) holding the space? Am I balanced? Am I breathing easily? Do I feel any unusual tightness or blockages in my back, shoulders or face? I’ll hold that position, breathing into it, for several seconds; or, until I have realized what I need to know.

If running through a list is engaging too many thoughts, we can alternatively simply pause, breathe and notice. It can be as subtle as feeling the throb of my resting heart rate in my eyes or temples. Whatever intuitive message that bubbles up to the surface is the info we can spontaneously incorporate as we complete the suspended stroke or squeeze or lifting movement.

Lesson 2. Margot is perfecting the “come play with me” hop. Also known as “come along” or “join up.” It’s a couple of quick steps away while curving her spine and looking back. It looks like she trying to go forward and backward at the same time. Her mouth is open and expectant. Her eyes, ears and nose are widened and pulled back. Her entire posture is happy and inviting.

She pulls the energy in her wake along with her. Ilaria is captivated. The invitation to follow is irresistible. Energy work is like that. Actually, both Ilaria and Margot do this as they encourage each other to continue play.

Applying her “come play with me” in my canine massage strokes, I lead with my knuckles and the back of my hand. My stroke, instead of using my palm or fingertips, presses with the ulnar border of my hand and little finger. It’s like pushing sand away at the beach, smoothing a spot to lay a towel. I look back to where my hand has just been, and draw the wake of energy (stimulated tissues) that’s been ruffled into my palms.

Little Miss Margot’s “come play with me” expands the stroke by adding follow-up, follow-on, and follow-through.

Thank you, little teacher, Margot Frecklefoot.

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