Love your people like you love your dogs….
I was sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace reading one of the many spiritual tomes that currently adorn my nightstand. My two dogs were lying on either side of me; so peaceful and sweet and relaxed. As I was rubbing Junior’s belly it occurred to me that if I were to treat all of the humans I encounter with the same patience and forgiveness that I afford my dogs, my world might change.
I have two Jack Russell Terriers, Chili and Junior and have had various numbers of JRTs in the house for over 20 years. They can be a handful, but I love their spirit and athleticism and sense of humor. They require a fair amount of training and lots of praise and patience.
We’ve always used rewards much more than punishment and we allow them their dogisms; chasing squirrels (within reason), killing small rodents (again, not encouraging massacres), tugging, chewing, wrestling, digging, occasional barking binges. At our house, they are allowed on the furniture and one sleeps in the bed. I just let them fulfill their nature and ‘be’.
As with humans, there are occasional bumps in the road. A couple of months ago they got into a fight to the death over some food and I foolishly got in the middle of it and ended up in the ER getting intravenous antibiotics due to a badly infected dog bite. Chili, the perp, was unapologetic, while Junior seemed upset about the fight and my injury. Me? I was pissed that I was dumb enough to get into the middle of the rumble knowing that the dogs wouldn’t have any idea who they were biting.
I forgave and moved on. After massive doses of Levaquin and Flagyl.
But, what if that was one of my ‘people’? What if during a rough stretch or an emotionally raw moment, someone sliced me open with a thoughtless comment or action? Would I be so forgiving of their human-ness? Doubtful. The anger and hurt would fester like my dog bite, but it would not heal. It would calcify into at best, a checkmark on their permanent record or at worst, a hardcore grudge. Maybe even hatred.
I hear your cries. “But, Jane! Our dogs love us unconditionally and they don’t know any better. People are different. People know what’s right and wrong!!”
My reply is: so what. We’ve all been that person. The thoughtless one who said something cruel or let someone down or lashed out in anger or frustration. That is us being human. We all have those moments and I am going to try and remember that next time I want to toss out a ‘screw you’ to someone that I feel has wronged me.
Every religion and spiritual path in the universe teaches us two things: Love and forgive your fellow humans. Period. So, no excuses about how dogs are nicer than people. You should have been at my house when Chili was clamped onto my wrist like a Great White. Or watched them round up and murder the foreign squirrel in our house. That is their nature and we allow it and forgive it. Let’s try it with each other.
I’ll go first…and I hope that you will in turn, return that grace to me next time I say or do something stupid or hurtful. Trust me, it won’t be long…..