If you’re a late Boomer like me, you may recall the early 70s movie “The Doberman Gang.” While it didn’t win best picture, it was considered great family entertainment.
The Doberman Gang Movie length: 87 min. Release year: 1973. Genres: Action; Comedy; Crime Directors: Byron Chudnow Credits: The Doberman Gang | Watch movies online, download movies for free
I find it curious what is considered family-friendly. Movies have been the source of plenty of post-traumatic stress disorder in my life. I saw Jaws as a teenager and still don’t swim in the ocean. I walked out of Jurassic Park. I just couldn’t take the violence and suspense. It took me about a week to recover from seeing the Titanic…and that was with an adult’s perspective. PTSD cost me more than a couple of sleepless nights.
Just a few weeks ago, I saw the latest Captain America movie. It was in the “over the top” theatre where the sound was deafening. I trembled through the entire movie. I am often cold in movie theatres so it didn’t dawn on me immediately that the trembling was not due to being cold. I was being traumatized by the sights and sounds on the screen.
So, you might not find it surprising when I share with you that seeing “The Doberman Gang” as a child instilled in me a fear of big dogs that has not aged well. And, it came back to “bite me in the butt” –literally – this week.
When I want to get out for a quick walk around the neighborhood, I cut through a nearby yard to pick up a street that has a nice 30-minute loop. The problem isn’t with the yard I cut through – it’s their neighbor. For the minute or so (it seems like 20) that it takes to walk across the yard, many times I’m tortured by a vicious barking Doberman.
The first time this happened, I had immediate recall. I was watching the vicious dogs in The Doberman Gang torment their victims all over again.
Once I realized that the dog was contained by an electronic fence, I was cautious but over time became confident that the dog couldn’t hurt me. Just a month or so ago, we met the dog’s owner during one of our outings and he assured us that the dog wouldn’t hurt us. “Piper” just wanted to play!
Coulda, woulda, shoulda!
To enjoy some unseasonably delightful cooler summer weather, we went out for a walk a couple of days ago. Sometimes I’m alone but this time I was chatting away with my husband. The dog was barking as we took our usual path but I wasn’t concerned. Not only could I trust the fence but the owner was in the yard with the dog…talking on his cell phone.
In a surreal few seconds, the dog realized that she was not being held back by the fence. The owner had taken off the device that registered with the fence replacing it with a normal collar and leash preparing for their own walk around the neighborhood. He was distracted by his phone conversation and wasn’t holding the leash.
The dog tested her boundary a couple of times and then lunged at me. She sank her teeth into my leg drawing blood. The owner reacted quickly and pulled her back into their own yard…apologizing but insisting that he couldn’t understand why she would have attacked me.
I was in shock. I felt violated. I had trusted the fence and the dog’s owner…only to be betrayed.
What can this story possibly contribute to an appreciation practice?
You may have heard that faith isn’t faith unless you’re wandering through the unknown. Practicing appreciation is even more powerful in the face of challenges. So, here goes!
The lightweight pants I was wearing managed to withstand the Doberman’s teeth. This was nothing less than a miracle when you look at the picture.
There was some blood but even that looks like it will come out fairly easily with stain remover. By the way, stain remover is another thing I can find to appreciate.
Well, of course. I find plenty to appreciate here but in this experience he has really shined. When I explained to him that I felt violated his response was “That makes sense to me.” All of our intentional dialog training is paying off!
The location of the injury is not easily reached by me so he’s been playing nurse. I think he has actually been enjoying this.
He calls me his “delicate flower.” If you knew more about my upbringing, you would understand how oddly uncomfortable it is for me to hear that. We’ll save that for a future missive.
As my husband pointed out, the dog was simply doing what she is programmed to do. Dobermans are genetically predisposed to protect their owners and territory. She’d been frustrated by that fence for too long. She could finally let me know, in no uncertain terms, that I had no business coming near her yard. (I hear you loud and clear!)
Her attack touched off a cascade of memories for me clearly marking places where I had abandoned traumas without doing the healing work. I have become comfortably uncomfortable living with post-traumatic stress disorder.
PTSD is generally a memory (or related memories) that have not found their way to a healthy storage location in the brain. Healing trauma typically involves bringing the memory to the surface and processing it so that the brain can move it to a new (more appropriate) storage location.
A new injury can trigger the memory chain of the trauma bringing it to the surface. If the opportunity is taken advantage of, it can serve to bring the entire chain of traumas with it allowing the brain to reorganize things finding an appropriate storage location in our memory banks. This relieves stress at the cellular level!
Studies have shown that five percent of adolescents aged 13-18 have met the criteria for PTSD. The percentage of children diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress is higher in girls than in boys, just as it is with adults. Credits: PTSD Affects Children More Than Adults – Guardian Liberty Voice
I love dogs and appreciate what this experience with Piper is showing me but I think I’ll stick with the smaller breeds. My dearly departed Duncan brought so much joy to my life. His 20ish pounds was plenty of dog for me.
An intense experience like this is always a “wake-up call.” It’s a great opportunity to see where we’re stuck.
Thanks, universe (and Piper). I’m definitely awake NOW!
Do you have a challenging experience that was your “wake-up call?” Did you squeeze all the value out of it?
You can practice Aware Appreciation along with me. By signing up, you’ll also receive daily reminders.
Dr. Gala Gorman is an entrepreneur…consultant, mediator, broker, publisher and, formerly, accounting firm partner. This experience helped shape the creation of the show. As a change facilitator, she ignites transformation in businesses, families, students, clients and, especially, within herself. When asked about why she created the show, Gorman said: “Developing awareness is what's worked for me. In fact, I'm a bit of an Awareness Addict. And, I'm hoping you'll become addicted too.”