Her name is Rosie. She is a 102 pound Mastiff/Lab mix. Yes. She’s a dog. A big dog. A good dog. A gentle dog. She’s a rescue. She has a checkered past due to no fault of her own. She feels very secure with who she is. She stands up for herself. She loves her people. She protects her people.
When she is at the dog park, she loves all the dogs and wants to run and play with them. She actually likes to chase the dogs who are chasing the balls. She runs to the gate to greet anyone who enters the park. She stands up for herself when other dogs are aggressive. She lets them know that she won’t be bullied. But she always has her eye on her people. She needs to know that they are there waiting for her. But she avoids them when they’re ready to leave, because she is never ready to leave.
When Rosie is in the yard at home, she feels responsible to protect her turf. She isn’t happy with the neighbor dogs walking on her sidewalk. They’re encroaching on her property and that shouldn’t happen. According to Rosie. When she is in the house, she sits in her chair and watches the activity in the front yard. She barks out a warning if anyone is invading her space. At times she jumps on the window to make sure the potential invaders know this isn’t a safe space for them.
Since Rosie has a habit of lunging for passersby on the sidewalk, I’ve taken to given her instructions before we walk out the front door. Once her leash is on, we stop at the door for a second to slow down and relax. I want Rosie to remember to treat others with respect. I want her to know that the neighbors and their pets aren’t trying to cause trouble for her. They are just passing by. Each time we walk out the door, I give her the same command. Let’s be good. Let’s be kind. I do that in hopes that she will be good and kind to those she may run into.
Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Luke 6:31
I think about how I treat others. Do I attempt to protect my turf at all costs? Do I warn others to back off if they get too close? In the name of safety, do I keep people at arms length? Do I build that invisible wall when others try to get too close? What am I afraid of?
If I were other people, would I like the way I treat them? Sometimes my bite may be worse than my bark. And sometimes my bark is downright brutal. Is it intentional? Do I think before I speak? Do I act without considering how the other person will feel?
I like to think that I’m comfortable in my own skin. So why do I get offended easily? Can I accept the same type of criticism that so easily flies out of my mouth? I wonder if others see me as kind and thoughtful. Or do they see me as the one who speaks before she thinks.
It’s natural to want to be treated kindly. One would think it is natural to treat others kindly in return. Not so. Feelings get hurt. Conversations get interrupted. Drivers are in a hurry or they’re too slow. That one coworker sits too close and talks too loud. Are we ever really happy?
Grace is a thing I’m learning. To stop and look a little closer at the situation. Perhaps the other person just received bad news and is in a hurry for all the right reasons. Perhaps the information I’ve been given is for my ears only. Perhaps my words were more offensive than I expected or planned. Perhaps I need to step back and slow down before I enter the world each morning. Perhaps I need to stop and remind myself of the command I give Rosie.
Let’s be good. Let’s be kind.