My first mental shift happened when I was eight years old, back when my family and I lived on 24 acres of land. We had a bunch of cows, two emus owned by the landlady, 15 hens, a really sweet donkey named Sophie, and a mule. One day, we were walking in the pasture, going to go feed Sophie, when out of nowhere, the mule charged us. If you didn't know already, mules are assholes, no pun intended. Thankfully, my dad brought a BB pistol and shot the mule in the flank, just enough to discourage him from coming any closer, but I felt the urge to rush in front of my dad, bare my teeth, and growl while chasing the mule off. I probably would have ended up injured if I did it, but that was my first mental shift.
My first phantom shift happened during a mental shift, when I was 12 and running a few miles to train for Civil Air Patrol physical testing day. I decided to sprint for a bit because I was a bit behind my target time, when I felt my tail and ears for the first time. I became acutely aware of birds chirping in the trees about me, the cars going down the road, and the laughs and screeches of children playing. My sense of smell seemed to improve, too, as I could smell the fragrance of the garden flowers a few houses ahead of me when normally I would have to be about two feet away to even get the smallest whiff of the scent. My tail was wagging insanely because I was having fun, my ears twitched and swiveled in response to the stimuli of the outdoors, and I howled. I howled seriously for the first time that day, and I will never forget it.