Wisdom From a Puppy: Forgiveness
People say that they’ve learned the most in life from their experiences as a parent. I think I get it. I learn a lot from my child, too, even if my child is a dog. I’m amazed at how much you can love your little one. Sometimes I love her so much that I want to eat her up. I know that sounds weird, but you know exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve heard you say those weird things too. Then there are times when she does something that pisses me off so much, that I almost hate her, for just a moment. She’ll make me so mad that I’ll throw around the not-so-casual: “I’m gonna kill you,” even if I don’t really mean it.
Recently Nola outdid herself by doing the unimaginable. You can’t make this stuff up. I went outside to scrape ice off the sidewalk in front of my house. Typically when I go outside for a short period of time, Nola is mature enough that I don’t have to crate her. She can’t get herself into any trouble because she is too busy running from window to window, howling frantically because she wants to be outside with me. She seriously has the worst case of FOMO that I’ve ever seen.
That particular day the stars were aligned, and this time the unexpected happened.
I finished my work, pushed on the door handle to go inside, and in that moment I discovered… I was screwed. The door was locked! Who expects that you’ll step outside for a moment and your dog will jump on the door and lock the deadbolt? It never once occurred to me as a possibility.
With my husband out of the country, no spare key in sight, my cell phone inside the house, and all windows and doors completely locked, I had few options. Luckily I have great neighbors. Two hours and $170 later, not to mention the new lock I needed to buy and install, I finally got in.
What do you do when you’re still so angry that you don’t want to even look at your dog, but she is beyond excited to see you?
I didn’t want the love, kisses, and the unbridled attention I often seek from her, but I had no choice. Assaulting me with more love and kisses than I ever get from Nola, she forced me to surrender some slight hint of forgiveness.
As you can see, Nola makes it impossible to stay mad at her, even if I stubbornly want to hold a grudge for days. That’s great for her that she’s moved on. I mean, please, she didn’t have anything to move on from. She had no idea that she locked me out of my house and cost me a bunch of time and money. Heck, she had no idea that she also missed her play date that she didn’t know she had on her calendar in the first place.
However, on the flip side, Nola could have been equally as angry at me for playing outside for 2 hours without her, meanwhile rubbing it in her nose by playing right in front of her the whole time. But she wasn’t. She was just grateful and ecstatic to see me.
It makes me think about how we spin such stories and create drama when something goes wrong. We create motives and intentions that may not really exist. This gets in the way of forgiveness.
Nola always forces me to forgive her much sooner than I’m ready. Because she’s so cute. Because she’s unconditionally loving. Because she’s too naïve and doesn’t understand. Because she never stays mad at me. It’s impossible to stay mad at her. So this sometimes judgmental, sometimes stubborn person can learn that it’s not so hard to forgive. It’s not so hard to make that choice.
In fact, it’s kind of freeing to move on.
I hope someday I can say I that am equally generous with my forgiveness toward everyone else, especially myself. Maybe we all need the reminder of a dog’s perspective to dismiss the stories we create surrounding our conflicts. The next time a patient doesn’t take our advice, a spouse lets us down, a co-worker makes a really nasty comment to us, or even we say something inappropriate and embarrassing, maybe we can all rewrite the story as if we are dogs. Instead of assuming and judging and insisting we win or prove a point, maybe we can simplify the story. This just might help us move on more quickly, saving ourselves wasted time and energy.
As that night passed on, my usually independent dog stayed by my side all night, and I realized that she was very traumatized by the whole ordeal. The idea of being locked on the other side of the door for so long was indeed a difficult experience for her. However, when it was over, it was over. It only seemed to make her appreciate being together.
That only made me want to eat her up even more.