My cat's life is not ideal. He is afraid of our dog, a rescue that lived peacefully with a cat in her foster home. That cat ignored her, unless the dog chased her. Then, like most cats, it would turn, arch, hiss, and, if necessary unsheath its claws to deliver a more forceful reprimand. My cat, chooses only to run away. Son of a barn cat, he was adventurous and daring, always the first to attempt new challenges like climbing a tree or leaping from the hay loft. We named him Braveheart and when we began to see a mouse or two in our old farmhouse, we chose him to move to more luxurious accommodations. He got along well with our retired sheepdog, Cooper and enjoyed a nightly tussle and chase with my daughter's kitty. Braveheart cleared the house of rodents and became a much-loved pet. We can't figure out why Braveheart's only response to our current dog is fear and flight. He hides in the gated bathroom all day long and only comes out when the dog is in her crate for the night. Braveheart has the run of the house all night and retreats at the rattle of the crate door opening in the morning. He's not so brave. We don't know how to make his life better. We're teaching the dog not to chase, but I'm afraid this pattern is set. I'm thinking this is early barn-cat-conditioning that can't be overcome. How do get past my early fears? Am I even aware of them? How do I come to realize that I'm safe? Can I ever really relax unless I do? Constant hyper-vigilance is exhausting and unhealthy. Like Braveheart, I often believe that I am the one keeping myself safe in a dangerous world. I fail to relax into the keeping love of God. I hope Braveheart faces his fears and finds rest someday. I hope I do too.

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