A dog is for life not just Christmas

A dog is for life not just Christmas

I’m sure we all remember the saying “a dog is for life not just Christmas”.

Well I have been thinking a lot about this over the festive season as whilst on my Christmas travels I saw many sorry looking, forgotten about, neglected dogs. Who with a small amount of love and attention could be thriving, lively, playful companions once again.

What is it that makes us so frivolous with a living being whether that be an animal or a person, because this type of mistreatment is not confined to animals alone.

What makes us give up on relationships so easy?

It’s something that not only saddens, but also surprises me, I suppose many would call me naive or a dreamer to feel like this. I can only say that seeing any being neglected affects me in some kind of way.

Thinking about this led my thoughts to my own life experiences, as recently I had heard about many situations where individuals training to become driving instructors had been neglected or left wandering, a little bit like my canine friends above.

The signs they displayed were a loss of confidence, self doubt, depression, loss of motivation. You may be thinking how can I relate the two scenarios, but please stay with me on this.

An individual’s hopes and desires are important components of their being almost like limbs and other physical assets, eyes, ears etc. We wouldn’t accept physical abuse against an individual so why do we accept psychological abuse which is just as painful if not more, and certainly the symptoms of such are much more damaging and far reaching (as discussed in previous blogs).

Individuals become shadows of their former selves with the aftermath of this type of ill treatment.

Ali (as I’ll refer to him in this blog to protect his identity and maintain confidentiality) was a quietly spoken gentleman with a soft manner very amenable, he was in his mid 50’s and had a wide variety of life experience.

We met for an assessment session with view to us commencing training for his part 2 driving instructor test. The assessment drive was on Ali’s request (surprisingly)

It was 9am and daylight had only just shown it’s face, winter is really in full swing with minus temperatures outside. I waited in my car for my first meeting with Ali who I had only had a brief phone conversation with as well as a few emails, so I was intrigued to put a face to the name.

I saw a gentleman step out of a vehicle about 20 feet away due to the lighting I couldn’t clearly see his face but I could see he was a tall man maybe around 6’ 1” but he was walking bent over so his height may have been more.

Once he reached the vehicle I could see him close up and he appeared nervous, I invited him into the car and he sat down in the passenger seat next to me. His body language appeared very closed and timid, his gaze was on the floor and his handshake when I greeted him was frail.

I started the conversation with general greetings and light conversation, I asked him how tall he was he replied 6’ 8”.

I then recapped our conversations to which Ali responded with short answers or head nodding. I asked Ali if there was anything that would hinder his training that he would like to disclose at this point, to which he hesitantly replied no.

I then moved the conversation along to Ali’s training journey up until this point, asking him to elaborate more on what we had discussed over the phone. Ali started to look uneasy in his seat and his tone changed. Something seemed off, he didn’t look too good.

As the conversation progressed Ali became emotional I tried to be supportive in my responses and just allow him to speak. It turned out that Ali had been training with a female instructor in his local area for part 2, but their training relationship had been a nightmare.

Ali told me that she regularly used demeaning language aimed at his manhood and focused more on the negatives of the session. When he tried to point this out to her it only fell on deaf ears, her answer was “you’re an adult, get over it”.

Ali had tried to terminate his training package and get a refund but his trainer refused to agree, the dealings eventually resulted in him having to take her to a small claims court. But you could see the experience had left him wounded.

When he stopped talking I thought it best to move onto some practical so we commenced the session. Ali’s driving was good, he had some points that needed improvement however I was pleasantly surprised.

When we stopped for a break I gave Ali some feedback and praised the positives of his drive. Ali actually smiled which was so great to see, we continued for the rest of the session Ali spoke some more and more confidently now.

At the end I asked Ali how he felt it went, he looked shocked at my question he said he’d never been asked that before but that he thought it went ok, but he knew that there was lots to improve on and he apologised.

I stopped him and gave him positive feedback highlighting points of the session that went well and setting out some achievable objectives.

Ali turned to me for the first time in the session and spoke to me he was visibly emotional he thanked me for a great session stating that it was the first time in a long time that he felt he could actually do it.  When he left me he gave me a warmer handshake and appeared taller now I could see his 6’ 8” frame.

Now you can’t say that his visible affect was any different to a wounded animal when I met him, that was as a result of human behaviour. I do hope 2018 brings some humanity into peoples lives, I know some things will never change but what can change is our mindset. Positivity is for life!

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