The Dog Who Taught Me the True Meaning of Overwhelm

I'm Claire!

I'm an Animal Kinesiologist writing about all things animals and energy. I am passionate about sharing insights into the energetic bond we share with our animals, and the valuable lessons they bring us.

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My dog Douglas taught me the true meaning and consequences of feeling overwhelmed.

What can I say about Douglas? He is smart, fun loving, and loyal to a fault. He came to me as a puppy and he has been with me for two years. There have been no issues to date, no dramas, and nothing noteworthy affecting our relationship.

So what is the problem you may ask?

Well, the problem is that we have never really bonded. I adore him and he adores me (I think?), but there has always been something missing; a vital spark; the x-factor; the thing that takes us from companions to a ‘team’ – and an unstoppable one at that! Whatever was missing has meant that working him in dog sports has felt like we aren’t quite in sync with each other. When I observe him I can see that I seem to worry him. I feel he gets overwhelmed trying to working out what I want from him and how we fit together. I feel that he is getting overwhelmed by his obligation towards me. It is important to emphasise at this point that this is how I feel because how I perceive a problem and the emotions I attach to it will always be a reflection of me and my emotional connection to the situation. More on that later..

I have often described my previous dog as my ‘heart dog’. We moved, worked and existed as one. We could read each other so well we were always in a constant state of flow. I was hoping recreate that feeling with Douglas, but until recently, it just hadn’t happened for us. Late last year I stopped training him for competition and decided to just ‘feel’ into it more. He has always been my pet first and foremost, but I wanted to determine why trying to push beyond that wasn’t working and why.

As soon as I turned my awareness to the situation, a number of things came into my consciousness. I realised I was training for the wrong reasons i.e. because I felt I had to, and because I felt obliged to. I was becoming overwhelmed with the weight of my obligations in my dog training circle. This started to ring bells of ‘transference’ and ‘emotional mirroring’; things I work with on a daily basis with my clients. This is when we project our feelings to our animal, and in describing their emotional state, we are actually describing our own. Just as Douglas was becoming overwhelmed by his obligations towards me, I was feeling overwhelmed in my obligations to dog sports and the time and effort they require. I began feeling like Douglas and I had become and obligation and chore to each other, rather than connecting from a heart space. Of course there were no actual obligations placed on me, it was just how I perceived it from the emotional space I was in. Similarly, Douglas had no actual obligations placed on him from me, but he perceived it to be so, therefore the emotions had become real even if the circumstances were not. In short, Douglas was responding to my overwhelm.

Finally, a few weeks ago I was sitting in the lounge and noted Douglas was watching me expectantly. I could see he was slightly anxious and as such I myself was finding it hard to relax. Finally, in despair I asked,

“What is it? What are you trying to tell me? What am I not getting?”

He looked me directly in the eye, got up, and walked over to where I was sitting. He turned and reversed his rear end into my leg as if presenting his lower back and hips for attention, much in the same way my client dogs do when they come for bodywork therapy. I suddenly realised I had all of the tools I needed to explore what the actual problem was – and fix it! You may be thinking “duh, of course you do”, but sometimes you just need your arse handed to you on a plate (well, Douglas’ arse to be precise), to get over yourself and get focused.

The main tool we use as kinesiologists is MUSCLE TESTING. In simplistic terms, a weak muscle indicates that stress is present in the body. A muscle can often test strong (i.e. it can be held firmly in a certain position), but as soon as a certain emotion is triggered, such as ‘fear of failure’, the very same muscle will test weaker than before, indicating the body is having trouble processing this emotion. It can be said that this emotion is preventing the body being ‘balanced’. Of course, it also tells us that the emotions themselves are also unbalanced.

I began muscle testing Douglas’ energy and discovered he had some pain in his lower back. As I palpated this area his muscles spasmed so I knew exactly where I had to work. I used some bodywork techniques to relieve the immediate tension, but knew I had to find the emotion that was causing the problem. After all, physical pain always has origins in trapped emotions. I knew from my work that this ‘blocked’ emotion may be the link in understanding what blockages existed between Douglas and myself….

I began muscle testing to find where I was going to locate this emotional information. The information was contained in the book ‘Emotions and Essential Oils’ and the particular oil that held the key was none other than DOUGLAS FIR!!!! Of course! I laughed at the co-incidence. I had never heard of that oil before but smiled as Douglas stared at me in a knowing kind of way. I read all of the emotions related to this oil.

· Helps anchor from the waist down – for people/animals who don’t feel anchored in their body.

Douglas had pain in his lower back (waist area) and so did I! His back legs are very unco-ordinated and have a mind of their own sometimes, and they never look like they are working in unison with his front legs! Energy does not move well down and through his body, getting stuck in his lower back. I have the same issue and never quite feel fully ‘in’ my body. When we are not fully connected with ourselves and energy is not flowing well, not only do we not feel grounded, but we have difficulty connecting with others. I could see that this was the problem was with Douglas and I – we were just not ‘in flow’ energetically with each other as we were not in flow with ourselves. I hadn’t realised how our physical issues related to our emotional bond with each other and vice versa.

· Douglas Fir will help you live according to your own conscience and values by letting go of generational patterns that may be harmful.

I became aware of the expectations I had of Douglas as a continuation of the other Border Collies who had shared my life. I expected to pick up where I had left off with my previous dog, forgetting that Douglas was a completely different soul who needed time and patience to learn. For myself, I have at times felt overwhelmed with the expectations I perceived as being placed on me by my family. None of them were real, but my belief system had been that children should be an improvement on their parents, with each generation achieving more and being an improved version of the previous generation. I felt this expectation placed on me and in turn I was aware that I was placing this on my own children (both my human and fur babies it would seem!).

What did I learn?

We are all unique. We do not need to fulfil the expectations of our elders. Whilst we can tap into generational knowledge of lessons learned, we must each forge our own path. We must be the full expressions of ourselves otherwise we prevent forming authentic connections with others. We need to ‘feel’ the energy of others in an authentic way in order to connect therefore we must emit this authenticity ourselves.

I realised both Douglas and I both doubted our capabilities in our working partnership. Could I train and work Douglas to the level I had with my previous dog? What if he couldn’t fulfil the huge list of expectations I had of him? Would this mean I was a bad trainer? Was Douglas worrying about getting things wrong? He must undoubtedly feel like he maybe would never measure up against my expectations?

The point is, we had all of these obligations, expectations and stress emotions affecting our relationship before we had even started! The fear of failure had taken over any potential we had for success in the future, until now. All those blocked emotions prevented us moving forward, flowing energetically and ultimately connecting.

I also realised that these shared negative emotional patterns we were holding onto had become physical pain within our bodies as we had not addressed and released them.

As soon as I came to this realisation I began clearing the blockages for both of us using kinesiology techniques. The relief I felt was almost instant. Douglas relaxed into me and I felt a calmness I had never before experienced with him.

Later that night he snuggled with me on the sofa and I was stunned by the level of connection I felt towards him. Within 24 hours he was noticeably more playful with the other dog in the household and was bounding about, seeking out mischief. He didn’t care he might be doing the wrong thing, he was enjoying engaging. It was almost as if he felt great to be back in his body. I felt exactly the same. The pain in his back and disappeared and I made the necessary changes in my life to get rid of unnecessary obligation and changed my view of those I needed to retain. I am excited for the future and seeing just where this new and amazing bond will take us….

I love that I have these tools available to determine the root cause of any problems or stresses and deal with them. Although it is the love of my animals that spurs me on to use these tools, I am grateful for every realisation I come to about myself. I am dedicated to my personal development and in being the best version of myself I can serve my family, my clients and my students in the best way possible.

If you would like to learn more about Animal Kinesiology, why not try one of our ONLINE COURSES



Animal Kinesiologist, Animal behaviourist, bodywork practitioner 

I'm Claire.
Animal Kinesiologist + Animal Lover

As an Animal Practitioner with over 20+ years experience, when I am not working with animals - I love to write about them!  Kinesiology gives a very unique perspective into the emotional experience of animals, and how trapped emotions affects both their behaviour and their physical wellbeing. I am passionate about sharing my experiences and lessons from the animals I work with. Enjoy!

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