Alpha aspirations abandoned abruptly

Despite my love and knowledge of dogs, you might as well know that I’ve never been alpha. I’m a pushover, and dogs can sense that a mile away. Come to think of it, I may be the anti-alpha. I’ve been to dog classes, I’ve watched the Dog Whisperer, I know that if I want dogs to respect me, I have to assert my authority with them. Not everyone does what they should do; we’ve had this discussion many times before.

Beagle jumping up to kiss woman leaning down.

I’m glad you’re the anti-alpha.

Rarely are dogs aggressive with me, however. Rather, they bestow me with effusive affection. If a group of us humans are standing together at the off-leash park, I’m invariably the one who gets jumped on. I know, I know, the dog is sensing my submissiveness. I should do something about that.

This loving jump would not be an issue did I not have a propensity for bruising. These affectionate dogs inevitably leave their mark, which has only made me shrink back all the more when approached. My park friends have become so sensitive to this issue that they intervene, jumping between me and the leaping pooch.

No longer. It’s been a month now that I’ve been off blood thinners, the primary reason for my bruising. I have marvelled at my black and blue body returning to a healthy pink. I even walked into a wooden table last week (not on purpose, of course) and, abracadabra, nothing to show for it.

Golden retriever jumping on woman in a field.

I see I’m not the only anti-alpha.

You won’t be surprised to learn, then, that recently I was at the off-leash park and a very rambunctious golden retriever started bounding my way. One of my walking buddies warned me that this dog was a jumper and offered to intervene, but I told her there was no need. Rather than cowering in fear, I put out my arms and welcomed him.

And then I realized how much my fear of bruising had been affecting my everyday life. For years, I carried the light grocery bags and left the luggage for J. to haul, all so as not to bruise my extremities. My sleep was often disrupted when I rolled onto a bruise. I modified my yoga practice and quit playing contact sports. (Okay, I never played contact sports, but I would have quit them if I had.) I visited the Emergency Room many times and once was hospitalized because of complications related to my thin blood. I required monitoring and poking and prodding more times than I can remember while I took these drugs.

In that moment when the dog jumped up to say hello, I realized how much my proneness to bruising had been hanging over me, moving me from carefree to cautious over the past several years. And how freeing it felt to be rid of this fear. And I realized there have been many other such burdens over the years, often unrecognized as such until they were gone.

I doubt I’ll ever be alpha–GET OFF THE COUCH, JELLY!–but it doesn’t really matter anymore, does it?

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