So, this is not your typical ‘Highly Sensitive Person’ column. It’s about a Highly Sensitive Dog named Pip.
I’ve always been a big fan, or admirer, of dogs. Unfortunately my parents were not, so I ended up having rabbits that pretty much could pass for dogs because of their behavior towards me.
When I was in my early twenties I moved out and got my first dog; a French Bulldog named Posh. She became the best thing in my life, my best friend and my therapist. I don’t know if it’s because of my love for her or maybe HSP’s secretly have got awesome dog training skills, but she became the best trained, well-mannered dog in town. Everywhere I went, I took her with me and often without a leash or putting a collar on her first. She learned some tricks and sign-language and would do just about anything I would ask from her.
Of course, one dog is not enough. So two years later, a little while after I helped out a friend because her Chihuahua was whelping, she handed me one of the puppy’s that were born the second time her dog gave birth to these amazing little creatures.
I seriously never thought I would own a Chihuahua. I only knew them as irritating, little demons from hell that were always barking, growling and shaking. But of course, the moment I saw the little beasty I couldn’t let go of him. So there I was, holding a baby demon with Posh sitting next to us looking a bit angry at me for bringing the devil into our home.
Growing up, Pip (a name I thought suited him pretty well), was a happy and pretty bold pup. He ran around the fields with Posh and the horses, tried to play with Posh every single minute (unless he was sleeping) until she finally gave in. From that moment on they have been the best buddies you have ever seen.
When I was around 22 years old I began to learn about High Sensivity, after I finally had put together that I was a HSP. But it still didn’t occur to me that dogs can be Highly Sensitive too until I saw Elaine Aron’s documentary ‘Sensitive, The Untold Story’. Pieces just fell into place. To me it was no longer just a coincidence that Pip always sat beside me or even lay on top of my chest when I was feeling sad. Or that he followed me around the house when I was experiencing anxiety or feelings of depression.
Knowing myself how hard it is to feel the need of being understood by the people around you and what they could do to help, I started thinking about how I treated my dogs. Pip doesn’t like to play with other dogs besides Posh, when we go to a dog park he always chooses to stay with me while Posh is having fun with almost everyone at the park. Dogs and humans. When another dog approaches us and is a but too forward with his intentions to play with Pip, he starts hiding behind me or growl at them. When kids, especially the loud and little ones, approach him, he becomes anxious too. And after such an overwhelming day, he falls asleep right away in the car.
So watching all of this with more consciousness about High Sensivity being present in my animals, I decided to anticipate on their needs a lot more. After a day filled with overwhelming events and many encounters with others, we both need a Mental Health Day. Just some time to recover and process the day before and recharge ourselves. When we’re still in an overwhelming environment and don’t feel the need to connect with others, we both find a nice and quiet spot to sit back and relax.
After a few weeks, Pip fully understood my new intentions with him and decided it was a good idea. Now, I don’t have to call him or make sure he’s close to me when we’re out of the house. He’s always right behind me, or sitting next to me with this look in his eyes as if he is thankful. Not just because I figured him out, but most of all, because in a way we always have each other when no one else can make sense of us.