How a howling dog became one of my role models

A few weeks ago, I blogged about us connecting with that needy, desperate, vulnerable part of ourselves. This week, I’m amping up the message of self compassion, inspired by Ginger the wonderdog…

ARE you being needy and desperate or do you simply need people who appreciate you?

I drafted this next to Ginger the wonderdog on my last day of dogsitting. I learned so much from this spectacular creature.

Sure, Rainbow MagnifiCat continues to teach me each day and I’m a better person for it for sure. But dogs are so… uncomplicated.

The wagging tail and jumping for joy to see you. The big eyes that simply stare into your soul…

My dogsitting shift was 9.30am (earlier some mornings when I couldn’t stay as late) to 2pm. Simply to feed then sit with the wonderdog.

Give her some indoor sofa time as well as a fuss. Send video messages from her to her humans. Cuddle her and rub noses with her.

Other people were coming at different times to play with her, walk her and feed her. Most mornings, someone else had been here a bit earlier to open the door for her and so I often heard her yowls from up the lane.


Without thinking, I’d yell, ‘It’s OK, Ginger, gorge. I’m on my way! Nearly there!’

At no point did I yell or even think, ‘Urgh, what’s WRONG with you?’ because I automatically had loads of compassion for this wonderdog missing her humans.

It helped me find more compassion for the part of me who misses people and wants MORE from them occasionally.

But it’s socially unacceptable for humans to yowl

Instead, I’ve been using Ginger as a role model to empathise with my inner yowl. I’ve had her in mind a few times as I’ve dug deep to find the courage to use my words to attempt to express things I find challenging to share with people of my own species.

And so far, it’s been working out amazingly well!

OBVIOUSLY, I’m nowhere near as adorable as Ginger.

Still, it was a bit of an epiphany to realise that just as Ginger deserves compassion, empathy and understanding, so do I!

(This revelation is especially embarrassing when I consider how many clients I’ve encouraged to honour their needy, vulnerable parts over the decades.)

Scary as it is, I know that whatever responses I get from my verbal yowls offers information.

I may well not get the response I’d hoped for but I’ll be FAR better off as a result of knowing.

In some cases, I’ve been able to reframe my boundary setting or requests for something I want or need as a sign of all the healing I’ve had over the years and as a way in which I’ve stepped into my power.

If I’m too much for people, they’re not my people! Simple as!

Each morning, when I’d get to the gate, Ginger’d wag her tail and jump up joyfully. That overly exuberant, joyful part of myself would leap up (in my imagination – in reality, I was wrestling my laptop bag, paperwork, keys, food for the day etc etc and trying not drop anything while opening the gate) in recognition.

Just as I’m DELIGHTED to be welcomed by Ginger, there may well be some humans who feel delighted by my own exuberance. Maybe. It’s POSSIBLE…

Some mornings, Ginger settled down to sleep next to me pretty quickly. Other mornings, she needed more attention. I became quite familiar with her telling me, ‘Don’t stop! More strokes!’

Because Rainbow MagnifiCat has me so well trained (again, am WAY more boundaried with humans than I am with animals. I’m not a doormat. Anymore) that I knew that giving Ginger whatever attention she needed was what I was put on this planet to do. Purpose and meaning

If I didn’t get any work done, well, I was dog sitting… my clients would understand (it didn’t come to that and I would have figured something waaaay more professional out had that been the case).

Some days, she just needed a little attention, other days, well, it took longer but was a delight. Such a cute little nose. And toes. And those EYES. I was AWED by her directness.


Whimpering or yowling and getting exactly what she wanted. Some call her (and Rainbow MagnifiCat) spoiled but I wish that every creature on the planet were cherished and seen and heard and loved and adored.

THEN we’d have world peace, freedom and equality and justice for all.

How might you see that needy and vulnerable (and joyful and exuberant) part of yourself as WORTHY of love and attention?

I guess I’m saying I’m discovering the joy of being NEEDED (in a non codependent sort of way).

Had I NOT attended to her need for extra attention, the howling might have gone on and on.

My seeing her as adorable and worthy (obviously) of fuss and attention meant it was a treat for me as well as for her.

Sometimes, in our less adorable human lives, we reject our inner needy parts. We get distracted by the emotional snottiness / blotchiness / vomit from all the unheard crying.

All it takes is a little self care to hold YOURSELF and recognise that just because friends, family and other loved ones may not be able to support you the way you want to be supported, it doesn’t mean that you’re not WORTHY of support, care and interest.

Have you been holding back any howls you might want to share (with someone it’s safe to share your vulnerability with)?

Feel free to email to let me know.

Please share this post on your social media etc so others who may find it helpful can read it.

With love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor





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