One day, I realized that I was happy again. And that’s when the sun started to peek out through the clouds and shine its warmth on my soul….and I could feel it….down deeply. And I started to re-invent who I was based upon who I truly wanted to be. I was so tired of shame, rejection, and judgments from others, and I was ready to embrace a new me. I was ready to really live again, and I was excited and energized by the thought that I could be who I wanted to be…rather than who others wanted me to be for them.
The only friends I really had wore fur suits and walked on four legs. And for me, those were the best friends, mentors and role models I could ever expect to find for myself! Dogs really have so many qualities that I admire and respect, and over the years, I’ve tried to take those wonderful qualities and apply them to my own life. Some of the very best things that I like about myself are traits that I’ve learned from dogs and found a way to apply to my own life.
The first trait that I love so very much about dogs is that dogs don’t judge. They just love and accept people as they are. When I had been dumped by my friends, part of the reason that I was so hurt, was because I discovered that I didn’t measure up to what they had expected me to be for them. I had been judged by them and fallen short. The result left me feeling ashamed of who I was for a long time until I could sort out the real truth for myself.
I hate taking Rugby out in public for any kind of doggy adventure, because he’s completely nutty on a leash if something stimulates him. Honestly. No exaggeration. When he’s out in public, all I ever hear from strangers is judgment about him. “Get that dog trained before you take him out in public!” “Ever think of getting training for that dog?”
Rugby never has a name to the judges…he’s always, “That dog!” In the eyes of others, he’s never a little dog that means the world to me….never mind the rough start he got in life. Judges are irritated because my dog and ultimately me as his owner, have fallen short of their expectation of how he should behave on the leash.
When people take the time to get to know Rugby and me…and they hear his story, they fall in love with him, and realize that he really is an amazing little dog. But the problem is that snap judgments are made by the first impression that Rugby leaves with people.
What I’ve learned from my work with dogs is that there is always another side to the behavior that I see. A pancake always has more than one side…no matter how thin it is. Everyone behaves the way they do for specific reasons. That’s true for dogs and for humans. It might be human nature to jump to snap judgments, but dogs have a different angle.
Dogs often slow down when their first impression of a dog or human isn’t an immediate green light. They watch, and learn and suspend their judgment until they have more information. That’s just a good compass to follow. When someone shows us who they are, we need to believe them. If they haven’t shown us, maybe we just need to watch and wait for the truth to come out. Snap judgments are no good, but eventually everyone over time, shows themselves to be who they really are.
I really admire dogs for their ability to take people at face value and not judge them the way our society does. Dogs don’t care about money, looks, position, importance, cars, vacation homes….they just like those people who like them and treat them kindly. In a perfect world, wouldn’t it be great if humans would learn to do the same thing? The good news, is that it can….and our dogs have shown us the way!