By Zanna Mackenzie
“Do that once more and you’ll be in big trouble,” I warn, wagging my finger ineffectually. I don’t know why I bother; it’s obvious I’m completely wasting my time.
Right. OK. I head to the kitchen. Try to calm down. Think. Think hard. What is it I’m supposed to do now? Oh yes. Take a deep breath. Try to relax. That’s what the doctor told me to do. I lean against the cool of the kitchen sink concentrating on counting in a long, deep breath, followed by a long, slow out breath.
It’s not so bad for David, my husband, he’s out at work all day. Lucky thing. No such opportunity for me to escape though because I work from home. Instead I’m here all day, dealing with the tantrums, heading off problems, basically just trying to stay sane. I’ve got to admit I never thought it would be this difficult; it’s not how I’d pictured things. People just keep saying things like, hang in there and, it’ll get easier. Are they telling me the truth or just dishing up platitudes?
It’s just over two weeks since the doctor calmly informed me that I was suffering from stress – ah! That I knew for myself. He’d said I needed to learn to relax more. Well, I’d replied, there was absolutely zero change of that happening any time soon.
“What we recommend is deep breathing exercises,” he’d continued. “They’ll help you to calm down, make you feel more in control. It’s quite normal to be stressed, though I admit your own particular circumstances are a little, shall we say, unusual…”
Well, I can’t hide away in the kitchen forever. Time to see what’s going on. I peer cautiously around the door into the lounge and heave a sigh of relief. I can see him; he’s just lying on the rug now, playing with his favourite cuddly toy. No more tantrums, he’s not chasing around the room causing chaos either. Thank goodness. At least he’s calmed down a bit, even if I haven’t managed to achieve that myself yet. Maybe now would be a good time to grab a quick cup of tea.
Waiting for the kettle to boil I survey the toys scattered around the house and once again feel overwhelmed. Why can’t I cope effortlessly like everyone else seems to in these circumstances? Perhaps it’s because I’m used to dealing with adults, people who can apply logic, who understand reasoned thinking. But none of those rules apply here. Toby is a law unto himself and I haven’t a clue how to communicate with him, curb his destructive nature or deal appropriately with his demands for attention. I’ve read loads of books on the subject, sought advice, but all to no avail. It isn’t working.
I sigh. I’ve been resisting it for a while but no more. I’m finally going to admit defeat. I’m getting an expert in. I take down the leaflet hanging from a magnet on the fridge door and tap the phone number from it into my mobile. Hopefully Elizabeth Murray, Animal Behaviourist and Psychologist, can help me gain some degree of control with Toby, the boisterous Labrador puppy who has ruled my life for the past few months since we got him from the rescue centre. Wish me luck!