As I’m sure you’re all fully aware (lol), I have two beautiful Lhasa Apso’s named Charlie and Belle. I mean it’s not as if I mention them often on social media or post an abundance of photos (looks down sheepishly!)
Okay I confess, I’m Lhasa Apso mad, I love them, they are my adorable furbabies and integral members of my family.
They are my counsellors, shoulder to cry on, my unconditional love and comfort blankets – always there for me when I’m struggling. They lie in bed with me, sit with me, I tell them my problems and they listen without interruption – unless the post man arrives or somebody walks by the window, then they do go on a bit of a barking marathon, but barking aside, they are loving and loyal dogs.
In 2005, I was having CBT and during one of these sessions my psychiatrist taught me a technique to break the loop when I found myself caught in an OCD cycle; she advised me to shout out loud using a sort of safe word (if you like), in an attempt to distract my brain away from the cycle of obsessional thought and ruminating.
It was a legitimate technique and one I was happy to try. The word itself used in this technique didn’t matter, even something as simple ‘STOP’ would be as good as any other, unfortunately it was never quite enough to deflect my attention and I realised that I required something a little more involved than just shouting out loud.
The answer came to me one afternoon whilst in the throes of a particularly obsessive state, compulsive rituals and repetition wreaking havoc on my daily agenda, when suddenly my boy Lhasa, Charlie, gave me the answer.
He had very deliberately and naughtily knocked over the laundry basket and stole some socks, I immediately went to retrieve the socks from him when suddenly he scuttled off! I ran after him and the same happened again and again, two to three minutes later he gave in and dropped the socks. I wasn’t angry because he looked so cute when he ran around with the socks between his furry chops and the whole moment was thoroughly fun.
He looked at me expectantly when I realised that in his mind we were playing a game, he wanted me to throw the socks once more so we could go again. I complied and we played this game for another thirty minutes, until I slumped down in my armchair completely out of breath. It was that moment when it suddenly dawned on me that not only had I moved past my obsessive thought, but the need to complete neutralising rituals had dissolved too.
Charlie had given me the answer, a short-term release from the cycle of being locked into an intensive OCD cycle. I tried this technique again and again over the next few weeks, it worked, it distracted me enough to break the cycle.
Now, whenever I’m in a compulsive cycle of counting, touching, tapping, stepping etc, as a means to neutralise an unwanted thought, I immediately pick up a toy and throw it for my furbabies.
When I made this discovery I only had Charlie, but now I have Belle I’m almost always guaranteed that one of my babies are ready to play! My Lhasa’s, my heroes.
The Lhasa Apso breed originates from Tibet, bred as an interior sentinel dog in the Buddhist Monesteries, they were used to alert the monks of any intruders entering Lhasa, which is the capital city of Tibet.
Lhasa’s are proud and fearless dogs, who believe themselves to be much larger and intimidating than they actually are. This is hard to imagine when you look at the woolly exterior and their striking resemblance to the ‘Ewoks’ in the ‘Star Wars’ movies.
Ive added a video for comedy purposes. The theme is, what Charlie believes himself to sound like vs what he actually sounds like. Enjoy!