Instinctual Friendship – Lessons from a dog

Today I am featured over at Studio 30+, please feel free to show me some love there. I wrote “Freed in Captivity”; a piece showing the strong and the imprisoned.

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This past weekend I had the pleasure of making friends with a dog. I know…I know…who does that and why am I telling you?!? I’m telling you because I think there is a lesson in there for some of us.

I had been told that she wasn’t very giving with her friendship, but I knew we would have to learn to coexist because her master and I were friends. I was going to have to be just as willing as she was to give in a little.

As soon as I got out of my vehicle she came up tail waving like a banner, ears pricked in curiosity; but a stance that said she was willing to challenge. I’m no dog whisperer (Heck, I can’t even get my kids to listen to me half the time.) but I know a little about pack mentality.

I angled my body away from her and dropped my eyes. I was letting her know that I wasn’t going to challenge her. I would let her dictate the terms of our relationship. This was met with an immediate sniff of my hand, a circling and then a pause in front of me to meet her eyes again. I glanced and looked away. Once again, confirming to her that I wasn’t going to rise to her challenge.

I could tell by her body language that I totally bewildered and challenged her in a different way. I dropped down to a knee (Hello arthritis) and held my hand down. As soon as she approached I raised it slightly in a stop motion. I was attempting to show her I was as tentative as she was and no threat. It worked and in no time we both had the reward of scratching behind her ears and chest. Being cautious to not touch the back of her neck, as that is a show of dominance with a dog.

By the end of our time together we had both deferred to the other in several situations. At times I would challenge, at times she would. Both times we would grant the other grace of understanding when to give a little.

This very instinctual friendship is an example to me about how all friendships and relationships should work. Being two different species, we had to understand the unique nature of the other. Communicating on a basic level where actions scream over our words. I could have promised her that I would not hurt her or make her uncomfortable. I could have whispered how I wouldn’t strip away the things that she prized or held onto; but my words would have meant nothing to her. I had to show her; to prove myself through my consistent movements in our time together.

We built a foundation of trust together. As time passed and I would meet her eyes directly or touch the back of her neck, I had proved that I was nothing to fear and she willing gave in. When I saw the slightest hesitation within her body language, I stopped. When she felt strong again, we moved forward.



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1 reply

  1. I love this dance you do with this dog. It sounds like the kind of dance I could handle.

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