Wisdom From a Puppy: Shaking Off Conflict
Last week I wrote about the human decency that we can learn from (ironically) dogs. Later that same day 2 interesting things caught my attention. First, on a walk with Nola, we ran into her old acquaintance, Lady, whom we hadn’t seen in a while. Deep down Nola always wants to jump on everyone she sees, but somehow she has learned a little about how to greet other dogs. She usually knows to come in slowly for a more smooth greeting. She often cowers down, puts her bum on the ground, and sometimes even rolls over on her back. It is unexpectedly very passive but very calculated. She seems coy, but she’s planning her next move; and if the dog stays around long enough, Nola will pounce up in excitement, ready to wrestle and romp. Lady and Nola have always played very well together, but for some reason, on this day, her pal Lady got aggressive with Nola. In her sweetness, Nola rushed backed and squealed, reminding me that she’s still a baby; and reminding me that even though she pulls, jumps, and is wild, she is always so sweet. Meanwhile, Lady’s mom explained that sometimes Lady gets shy. Shy? Growling and snarling is a response to shyness? I guess we never really know why one acts the way they do, whether it’s humans or dogs. Without putting too much thought into Lady’s motives, we moved on with our walk and didn’t let it rattle us.
This interaction reminded me that socially dogs are just like people. Some are amazingly sweet and friendly and positive, always seeking out fun; some are scared, aggressive, and unfriendly; and some don’t fit neatly into either box.
I guess dogs are people too.
A few hours later the second interesting thing caught my attention. My yoga teacher started the class sharing her experience at the women’s march last weekend. I was happy to hear that these marches were peaceful everywhere. Not that I expected the participants to get violent– it wasn’t that kind of event. But I did wonder if someone else might show up and instigate clashes. Anytime I’ve ever participated in a Breast Cancer Walk, there has always been someone on the sidelines holding up pro-life signs, harassing the participants and blaming their breast cancer on abortions. You can be at the most positive, supportive, and emotional events filled with women and men who come together to support a cause and each other, and still someone has to vomit their uninvited hatred. With so much division in our country right now, I didn’t know what would happen at these women’s marches.
To my delight the teacher told us about how wonderful the event was. However, on their way walking home with her 2 young daughters and some friends, unfortunately a guy in a car kept circling around them, yelling horrible things at them. Her husband got defensive and responded to the unwelcome taunts of this troublemaker with equally combative words. And in that moment, she stopped to think…
It’s easy to be peaceful, happy, and kind when you’re in a peaceful, happy environment, but what happens when we are faced with conflict or aggression?
How do we react when we break a glass, or the person driving in front of us is too slow, or things don’t go our way? It got me thinking about Nola, and how it’s easy for her to spread joy and love in a positive situation, but what really defines her character is how she reacts and responds when the situation isn’t ideal. How does she react when her old pal, Lady, “yells” and snaps at her for no reason?
She reacts the way she knows how, which for her is with sweetness, and then she quickly moves on.
She hasn’t quite figured out to back off when other dogs warn her, but instead it makes her want more. Of course, this may not be the best approach, but it’s clear that it doesn’t get her down, and in some ways, I admire this. She doesn’t fight back. She just shakes it off and moves on. Just as my yoga teacher did when faced with conflict in front of her 2 little girls. It can be hard to keep your cool in these moments. I know I sometimes struggle with it, but when I’m aware enough to keep my cool, shake it off, and move on, I’m lucky to realize that the conflict has no power over me.
I don’t know about you, but I like the freedom that brings.