PTSD & Characters


How did I end up with an incredibly easy baby and a super high-maintenance dog? I mean, really. Come on.

Mack has started doing this really cool thing where he sneaks off to a quiet corner of the house to tremble. I find him under the kitchen table, behind the rocker in the nursery, or on our bed. Just sitting there. Shaking uncontrollably.

Something horrifying probably happened that day to freak him out, like my cooking on the stove, turning the bath water on, or dropping something on the tile floor. These may seem like normal, every day occurrences to you, but to my 70 pound lab they are absolutely terrifying.

He’s getting scared more easily in his old age (all of 6 years). He was 1 when he adopted him, so we aren’t entirely sure what went on before he lived with us, but I feel sure it involved abuse of sorts.

Judging by Mack’s hesitation towards certain things, I’d say the abuse most likely involved one (if not all) of the following: plastic bags, vacuums, brooms, rain, hairbrushes, plastic cups, smoke detectors, children’s toys, affection from strangers, exercise balls, fountains, or small lizards. You know, the normal items you find in an abusive situation.

I’m a little bit serious when I ask the following: is dog counseling a viable option nowadays? Mack would be an excellent candidate.

Without an official diagnosis, I maintain that he has post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD symptoms include:

  • Strong, uncomfortable reactions to situations that remind you of the event – he is most uncomfortable when I turn on the bath water, seeing as running water is the scariest of all.
  • Avoiding places, people, or thoughts that remind you of the event – my purse once fell off my shoulder and hit Mack on the head while we happened to be on the sidewalk in front of our house. I literally drug his body from its rigid, corpse-like position on the front lawn into the house. He didn’t walk on the sidewalk for months after that.
  • Having an exaggerated response to things that startle you – hiding between my legs and trembling for hours on end after I test the smoke detector? I’d say that’s exaggerated.

So, all that to say, don’t ask me how I’m adjusting to life with an infant. Ask me how many nervous breakdowns my dog has had instead. That’s where most of my time is spent these days.

(Also…do you think this has anything to do with the situation at hand?)

Never Break Character

I love, love, love being able to stay at home with my dude, but…let’s be honest…10+ hours a day alone with an infant can make you a little crazy. I counteract the isolation by setting things up during the week.

Now, my weeks consist of reading time at the public library on Tuesdays (I feel sure some good posts will come from this, but in the meantime check out Beckett’s multicultural girlfriend on my friend Tara’s post about our library time), women’s Bible study on Wednesdays, stroller striding at the park with other moms on Fridays, and an occasional lunch date or Pinterest party in between.

When we aren’t out and about, I find other ways to entertain us. Well, mostly myself. Beckett is at the stage where a piece of string can provide hours of entertainment.

Sometimes we slow dance to The Cheeseburger Song from Love Songs with Mr. Lunt. (see Veggie Tales)

Sometimes we take Mack to the dog park (mostly just to get out of the house, but sometimes as a last-ditch effort to make Mack stop trembling from the day’s horrors).

Sometimes we do those things. But almost always we are in character.

Whether Beckett is a foreign dignitary in need of the utmost respect, or the baby of my Russian mob persona, Boris, we like to be in character – complete with sick nasty* accents. Sometimes we’re robots, sometimes we’re Australian. I’m still working on the French and Italian characters.

I can only hope that Beckett finds it as entertaining as I do one day.

In the middle of my British-accented rundown to Sir Beckett on his schedule (pronounced shed-jewel) for the day, Taylor walked in and said, “I mean…who are you in this situation? You do realize that this is more for you than him, right?” I mumbled something back about being an administrative assistant or chauffeur or something.

It doesn’t matter who I am in this scenario. I can tell by the way he’s bouncing in his exersaucer that he’s more intelligent as a result of our charades.

*when’s the last time you heard sick nasty? You’re welcome for that.

Speaking of being a child prodigy, here is the dignitary himself playing a little Bach for me.

And, since you asked, here is my favorite of his 5 month photos. This little face makes me instantly melt into a puddle of sap and joy. It’s ridiculous how much I love my little 5 month old chunker.

Yep. Time to go squeeze him. Goodbye for now.

4 thoughts on “PTSD & Characters

  1. Danielle B

    I definitely laughed out loud to my 70lb dogS. Yes, plural. I want you to be relieved in knowing my (almost) 7 year old is a mess when he sees the vacuum, hears me snapping open a new trash bag, watches the broom cross the floor, or is forced to jump up into my car (which is a Rogue by the way, and sits comfortably lower than the Envoy I used to drive – I actually had to LIFT HIM to get in there). Chase is also not a fan of water. Running water doesn’t bother him, but this dog freaks out if we go to the lake & it gets past his belly. More recently he’s become a fan of dark corners to bury his nose in, dark rooms to sit quietly and think to himself in, and anywhere in the house no one else is at (something tells me he was spoiled so many years being top dog* and since he became a stepbrother last month wants us to think he’s having issues adjusting). Unless of course, he thinks I’m giving any attention to Tyra – then he’s pushing her out of the way to lay underneath wherever I’m sitting. I think you’re on to something with Canine PTSD, which also causes me to fear one day bringing children into our own equation.

    Thanks for this one 🙂 And just know you’re not alone.

    1. Sarah Brooks

      That is fantastic. Not necessarily that your dog is also showing signs of PTSD, but that he is similar to Mack. I love how quirky he is too – especially about the water not going past his belly. Mack doesn’t even get that far. He’ll avoid going to the bathroom for 24 hours if it’s raining outside. (He has webbed feet, mind you.)

      Love it. Kindred canine spirits.

  2. Jessica

    I work for a guy who indeed takes his dog to doggie therapy once a week, and wait there is more… the dog has also been prescribed doggie prozac for his depression. I want to know if the dog lays on a couch and blames his mother when he is in therapy.


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