Hopper: Furry little canine’s lesson in life takes on new meaning

Bella would look up at me with her tongue hanging out, her eyes clearly stating: “Throw the frog…throw the frog!”

My dog Bella is the cutest dog ever, a little Shih Tzu-Bichon cross.

Part teddy bear and part Ewok, she is an adorable furry four-legged soul with a very childlike and kind disposition—except for those times when the doorbell rings.

Then she morphs into an over-excited psycho dog.

When Bella was a puppy, her favourite toy was Freddy the Frog.

Bella took Freddy everywhere with her. She would often plop Freddy down at my feet, wanting to play fetch.

Bella would look up at me with her tongue hanging out in an ear-to-ear smile and a look in her eyes that clearly stated:  “Throw the frog…throw the frog!”

To my dog, this was an awesome game and quite often the highlight of her day.

Back in 2007, I was suffering from extreme environmental illness and had moved onto a broken down houseboat in order to merely survive.

I was isolated and alone, except for my dog Bella. Nightly I would phone my partner James for love and support during this difficult time.

As one can imagine, living in isolation with an illness that doctors could not diagnose or effectively treat was very disheartening.

Suffering from severe chemical and electrical sensitivities, fibromyalgia and situational depression consumed my life.

Without the ability to work or socialize, and feeling like I was slowly dying a tortuous death, my illness was understandably front and centre in my mind.

Even though I had once considered myself to be a very positive person, the injury to my limbic system caused the survival and threat mechanisms in my brain to become hyperactive.

As a result, it constantly felt like I was being poisoned by my environment, that I was continuously under attack.

Some of my senses had also morphed into super human powers to detect anything in my environment that could be a potential threat to my safety.

My sense of smell, taste and ability to detect electromagnetic fields had heightened in order to protect me from danger.

As well, the associated stress response was causing breakdown of many of the systems of my body.

My thoughts and emotional patterns were concerned with one thing only—my survival.

Gone was the happy-go-lucky Annie that many had loved and cherished.

Instead, having a conversation with me would be enough to make anyone feel depressed.

Then on one particular cold and rainy evening, I was standing at a phone booth, placing my nightly call to my partner James and recounting the daily battles that I struggled with.

While I was recounting the challenges of my day, James suddenly interjected. What he said to me in that moment was both shocking and brilliant. It hit me with such unpredictability that I asked him to repeat what he had said.

As I stood in the chilly wet darkness of the night, this trusted voice from the other end of the phone repeated to me: “Throw the Frog! Throw the Frog!”

In that moment, I “got” what he was saying.  Instantly I went from crying to laughing hysterically.

In that moment I realized that I had the power to “change the channel” in my mind.

And for that brief interlude, I found relief in the laughter that had replaced the unrelenting survival loop that my brain and body were stuck in.

As it turns out, learning how to shift out of survival patterns and learning to “throw the frog” are just a part of the essential tools that we use to rewire limbic system function.

However, when suffering from a limbic system impairment, this can seem like defying gravity itself.

It still takes great understanding of brain function, immense dedication, persistence and patience to repair the damage.

Just Posted

Re-election of Kelowna incumbents seen by winners as endorsement of status quo

Returning Mayor Colin Basran says social issues, housing and transportation are his top priorities

JoeAnna’s House construction breaks ground in Kelowna

Moving forward on temporary housing facility for KGH out of town patient family members

Kelowna man named as one of Canada’s top 10 insurance brokers

Garrett Jones, with Valley First, was named in Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine

Gold, silver, and bronze earned by Lake Country skating club in latest competition

The Central Okanagan skaters competed in the ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition

‘She’s charging. Oh God’: Mama grizzly runs at B.C. man armed with shotgun

People online were quick to question – and defend – a man’s decision to shoot a grizzly bear charging him on a Bella Coola front yard

Red Sox beat Dodgers 8-4 in Game 1 of World Series

Benintendi has 4 hits as Boston cruises at Fenway

Canada announces $20M fund for women entrepreneurs

New federal program will provide up to $100,000 for female business owners to grow their operations

Vancouver Island man claims falling ice smashed his truck windshield

Man discovered volleyball-sized chunk ice on his truck Saturday, near Nanaimo, B.C.

B.C. veteran combats PTSD in the ring and on the farm

Cam Tetrault is a valuable contributor at Quesnel’s Two Rivers Boxing Club

B.C. vegan butcher to appear on Dragons’ Den

Victoria’s Very Good Butchers will star in Nov. 29 episode

Shuswap offers one-stop wellness for seniors

Salmon Arm centre for seniors with chronic conditions offers collaborate approach to health

Fast ferries from B.C. spotted in Egypt

Controversial aluminum BC Ferries vessels ’big white elephants covered in dust,’ eyewitness says

Canadian troops, families take shelter in hotel after Florida hurricane

Most of the Canadians were evacuated from the military base before Hurricane Michael

Most Read