How My Sled Dog Fisher Grew Beyond PTSD

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How My Sled Dog Fisher Grew Beyond PTSD
     Fisher the sled dog resembled a black wolf.  If he were a boy he would have skate boarded.  If  he were a man he would have enjoyed a single shot of whiskey at night while sitting by a wood stove looking out the window at winter.  When I first made his acquaintance, he was skittish, dying to play and afraid to be touched.  That was the first day of the start of our loving friendship that would last forever.
     The strong, wolfy, easy pleaser lived with a recreational team out in a valley right on the trails.  During my visits, we loved to play chase.  After a few weeks, he trusted me enough and for the first time I touched him.  I would never have been fast enough to catch him so he slowed down and let me just reach his back.  Then he tucked his tail, curled his but up and under like a snail and tore off.  I do not know what had happened to him.  Probably a musher had been abusive and hurt him for making a mistake for something he didn't even know.  Even though Fisher didn't want to, he lost his trust of all humans.  Fisher was not fitting in to any kennels, being hard to handle and catch he was getting passed around.  He had a lot of strength and he was an honest dog.  
     A few months later, the musher who had him said he had decided to get rid of him and did I want him.  A dream had come true for us.  Soon after I brought him home, we went for a walk.  Out in the woods in Alaska you can pee anywhere, no one is around.  Feeling nature calling, I bent down and suddenly felt a warm stream hitting my low back.  It was very meaningful to me.  Fisher was marking me, he liked me and was claiming to the world that I belonged to him.  Since he was to scared to kiss me, he was showing me he considered me his friend. 
     When friends came over they were amazed at the changes in him.  Putting the harness on him got easier and easier over time.  One day a musher came to visit.  "I can't believe what you have done with Fisher.  I have seen times when mushers couldn't get him out of the box on the dog truck."
     Fisher was the first dog with trauma I had worked with.  He was a great teacher.  Inside every body is the wisdom that knows what to do to heal.  So far Fisher was letting me catch him and even rub his belly.  The next step was encouraging the sled pulling tail wagger to give kiss on the chin. 
     The first time I said, Fisher give me a kiss, his eyes got big, he wanted to.  For dogs this can be dangerous for putting your face near a mean animals mouth can get you bit.  He couldn't do it.  My intuition said to work on the positive desire.  I went to each dog near him and they gave me a kiss. 
     He barked, "I want to, but I am scared".    This and the chase game, where I would tag you're it his low back, were our fun desensitization games.
     The last Musher who had him could never catch him if he got loose.  "How did you get him back?"   He told me "I had to call a friend, the only guy who could catch him."  I finally ran into the catch man.  "How did you do it?"  I asked.  "I gave him a pot brownie and waited till he fell asleep."  It was lucky he didn't die, marijuana can kill dogs
     I went over to a friends house with Fisher to go skijoring (skiing with 1 to 3 sled dogs tied to a climbing harness).  We had to run a quick errand.  We left Fisher in the fenced yard.  He thought I was leaving him forever and escaped.  I kept calling the pound.  "Yes we are getting many calls he is running in traffic on the Steese Highway, now he's on the expressway."  Sadly, I was on the opposite side of town and always missed him.  It was beyond horrible.  Days went by with no sight of him.
      A corner store had been getting reports he was sleeping off Farmers Loop road.  Driving one day I thought I saw a black spot.  I pulled into a little field and called.  He came running and let me catch him!  The feeling went beyond words.  He was skinny and tired and happy to be home.  After a week of exhaustion we fattened him up and he was ready to start pulling sleds or skijorers. 
     One day after I had had Fisher for over 7 years he stood up on his hind legs face to face with me and gave me a kiss on the chin.  He was saying mom I made it through my fear, thank you, I love you.  It was the most meaningful kiss of my life.  Healing is always happening never give up.

Beka Chandler Massage & Injury Specialists of Ashland, Oregon.  Beka is a massage therapist, injury specialist, business consultant & health educator in Ashland, Oregon.  She has a lot of fun blending 25 years of personal growth, intuition and healing arts adventures with over 20 years of experience from her clinical massage practice to inspire people.
Feel free to send her an email or call at your leisure., (541) 778- 0015

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