As some of you know, my family adopted a six-month old puppy last May. We named her Maya. When I first met Maya, she crawled into my lap and shook for 20 minutes. She was so scared. My heart turned over in my chest and our family made the decision to adopt.
Within days of bringing her home, we soon realized that Maya was more than a scared puppy. She had behaviors that suggested prior trauma and were very erratic. We asked our veterinarian for help and were referred to an animal behaviorist. Due to a great demand, our family was put on a wait list. In June, we got an appointment for August 23. That date was circled on our calendar as a beacon of hope. We just had to hang on until late summer.
Desperate to learn how to manage Maya’s behaviors at home, we hired a dog trainer. While the trainer was a lovely person, they were not well-equipped to work with a dog who required specialized interventions. Wanting to learn more about our dog friend, we decided to get Maya’s DNA tested.
Maya’s DNA results showed that she was primarily a terrier mix with Pitbull (31%) her highest breed trait. We were told by many people that terriers, specifically bully breeds, have a different brain than the Labrador Retriever brains with whom we are used to interacting. We quickly learned that terriers love to chase animals, need a lot of exercise, and are very territorial. We also discovered that they, or at least Maya, are very smart.
The combination of smart, fast, and young meant that Maya needs a lot of attention…a lot. To accommodate Maya’s needs, our family rearranged our schedules so that Maya had constant companionship with very few exceptions. In addition to frequent walks, we gave Maya puzzles to solve and cuddled with her on the couch. These interventions did help mitigate Maya’s erratic behavior but they did not eliminate her hypervigilance or occasional aggressiveness.
As we eventually learned at the August 23 appointment, Maya’s behavior was not fully explained by immaturity or breed specific traits. The animal behaviorist diagnosed Maya with Hypersensitivity and Hyperactivity Syndrome (HSHA): a behavioral disorder associated with lack of inhibition at the slightest stimulation.
Receiving the diagnosis was very affirming. Knowing that our inexperience with terrier brains was not the only contributing factor to Maya’s behavior helped our family deal with our guilt. This diagnosis also helped us feel good about our decision to rehome Maya: a decision that weighed heavily on our minds.
Initially the outlook for rehoming did not appear good. Most, if not all, shelters are overwhelmed with animals who need a home. Most, if not all, rescue groups are struggling to find forever homes for their foster animals. The chances of finding a home for a dog with special needs are even slimmer. Our family was feeling desperate.
Last Saturday my childhood friend invited our family to his home and told us to bring Maya. “Are you sure?” we said. She is a handful and we don’t know how she will react to your dogs. My friend, who has experience training dogs in the military, said don’t worry – just bring Maya. So we did.
I am happy to report Maya did great. She loved running off-leash in my friend’s big, fenced-in, backyard. She loved all the pets from my friend’s children. Maya even got along with my friend’s ginormous Doberman, who, as it turns out, is a big marshmallow. By the end of the visit, my friend offered to keep Maya permanently with an open invitation for me to visit.
I was stunned. I couldn’t believe my prayers had been answered. I really could not envision a better scenario if I tried. I visited Maya yesterday and she seems to be settling into her new home. My friend is still happy with the arrangements and currently has no regrets. (May he continue not to.)
Many hands were working with yarn last Friday. Join us this week for Makerspace and use yarn and anything else you want.
I share this story because I wanted to speak to the importance of “a good fit.” Maya was not a good fit for our family. That is my truth and it was a hard truth to embrace. I so wanted to be the family that could provide a home for Maya. I felt very guilty for not wanting to keep her and potentially sending her back to a shelter.
I am very grateful that I did not have to resort to surrendering Maya, and I would have, if my friend was not able to take her in. I share this truth because I want folks to know that I don’t believe in making something work that is not good for you or your family.
Before I found a home for Maya and was exploring my options, I received both solicited and unsolicited advice that felt judgmental. (I also received a lot of support.) At first those opinions induced guilt and made me think poorly of myself. Fortunately, I did not get stuck there. I attribute my ability to move away from the guilt to the non-judgmental support I received and because I am better at doing what is right for me.
I end this recent dog journey with a lot less stress and a lot of gratitude. I also have more compassion for folks who are struggling to make hard decisions that go against popular opinion. I want to be the person who listens and who does not judge, even though sometimes that is hard too.
Thank you to everyone who provided a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on – I appreciate you!
One last announcement: The Shakti Fall Schedule will be announced the week of the Fall Equinox Celebration. Some events are already up on the website. I think you are going to love what is coming up!
Kim Bushore-Maki is a soul-driven entrepreneur who understands the undeniable urge to create a business and a life filled with meaning and purpose. Her vision of opening a center where people could heal and grow led her to open Shakti in the Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee: a place where the creative, feminine energy is nurtured and valued.
Kim is a licensed professional counselor and a yoga teacher. She completed the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy program as well as the Shake Your Soul Yoga Dance program. Kim is very interested in somatic expressive therapy, archetypal psychology, gardening, herbalism, astrology, wisdom traditions, and regenerative economics.
Kim continues to build and to support inclusive, vibrant communities. She spends most of her time mentoring leaders, guiding healing programs, and providing mental health counseling.
Sign up here to receive updates on free community events, workshops, and more.
Shadow Work: Uncovering our Unconscious Needs
A 6 week series
To support emerging leaders, the Shadow Work series is being offered this fall to build resilience and freedom. The goal of this series is to unearth your unconscious needs so you may eliminate limiting beliefs and healthily address your needs.