I’m bummed. Paco took his last road trip yesterday. For those of you who haven’t read my blog before, Paco is my amazing dog…my best bud…my big-hearted warrior…my co-pilot…you know, woman’s best friend.
Now don’t panic, Paco’s fine. It’s just that the last couple of years, I’ve watched him get more anxious in my car. I think there’s a couple of reasons. The SUV I currently drive has a tighter suspension (that’s SUV talk) than my last vehicle, and he feels every change in the road, especially cattle guards. We hate cattle guards with their short vibrational rumble (I’ll bet cows do too). A drive over one leads to his uncontrollable shaking and, once that fight or flight reaction kicks in, his shaking doesn’t stop until the trip is over. Also, I was in a car accident about two years ago. Paco was in the car with me. Neither one of us was hurt (other than my horrible whiplash), but it has had an effect on his comfort and anxiety in the car (as it has for me).
So, we head to Arizona for Christmas. Paco sits on my partner’s lap and stays alert, even after putting on his Thundershirt (doggy anxiety shirt) and taking a prescribed sedative. We come to a complete stop at cattle guards, roll down the window, let him look out, then s-l-o-w-l-y go over. It appears he’s doing better than previous times, but it’s still not great. He’s anxious and scared. I’m bummed. He used to go everywhere with me, and I mean everywhere. To visit clients, to the lake, to Arizona, everywhere. Icky anxiety…
I also struggle when I’m a passenger in a car. It’s fear and the inability to control my environment. It’s easier when I’m the driver. But many times, when I’m sitting in the passenger seat, I am alert to every car, every bump, everything I can’t control.
My outsides are not in immediate danger…my insides are freaking out. It’s not rational, but tell that to my rapid breathing, my sweaty palms, and my elevated heart-rate. Paco has what I have. He has what my father has. He has what many of us have…we have anxiety.
Many people have this form of anxiety in airplanes. Logically, they know the chances of a plane accident are much lower than a car accident. Logically, they know they will get to their destination as planned.
A full-blown panic attack is awful, and the person (or animal) experiencing it feels like they might die. It’s confusing and scary. All logic goes out the window when your insides are trying to flee. The more you try to control it, the worse it gets. After the panic attack is over, the person who had it is afraid of and alert for the next one…which increases anxiety…which keeps them in constant fear…which is a wicked cycle.
There are many websites that address anxiety and panic attacks, but I wanted to pass along a few things that you can use to reduce anxiety without the use of medication. Here goes:
Many times, it’s based on something that happened in the past that we’re afraid of reoccurring, such as an accident, failing an exam, or being embarrassed in public.
We humans have the ability to create some awareness around our fears that could help uncover the reasons for our anxiety. Little Paco doesn’t necessarily have that ability. So, his mama (that’s me, in case I’ve lost you) told him yesterday, that he’d just taken his last road trip to Arizona. He’s relieved, but doesn’t want me to go to Arizona anymore either. That won’t happen, but his days of uncontrollably shaking for 400 miles are behind him. In the meantime, his mama will keep meditating, breathing, and knowing she’s doing the best thing for her cherished little co-pilot. 😊
Thanks for being you. Peace friend ✌😊
p.s. You can check out my video on this topic: Coping with Anxiety