Guys, I have to take a second to brag on my dog a little bit.
I am sitting here in a tire place getting some new rubber (If you thought I meant anything other than getting tires you are the type of human I will get along with). It’s taken an hour and a half so far and I am still waiting….
A little back story on my dog. He was a disaster when I got him. His previous owner had him for two years and did absolutely nothing with him. Some dogs can tolerate this. Not my dog. He is a ball of energy that turns into anxiety and destruction if left unattended. I had no clue what I was getting myself into with him. He was returned to his original owner 3 times before I got him. And it was not love at first sight… it took me about nine months and the start of professional training before I really bonded with him. This guy is dog reactive, a resource guarder, and just generally a bundle of untamed energy.
As we sit here in the tire store I lack my usual training tools, but I do have some kibble. We are surrounded by children running amok, we are within ten feet of a popcorn machine and people are walking by every few seconds. He has successfully laid down as the children ran past, tolerated some petting, performed some obedience moves and while I know he is DYING to leave, he is being the quietest and calmest version of himself that he comes in. He is tolerating an incredible amount.
A woman commented on his behavior. Yes, the same woman with the three kids. She then asked me to watch said kids… while she took care of paying for her car. I am always shocked at what people will ask a total stranger. She caught me so off guard all I could do was cringe, lift my eyebrows in a gesture of “are you seriously leaving your kids with a complete stranger?!” and said a groan worthy, “suuuurreee?”
As the woman walked away I looked down in horror as three little rugrats ages 2-8, all heads tucked into computer screens (thank god). I suddenly had this jolt of empathy and compassion for this woman. How overwhelmed must she be to rely on a complete stranger to watch her kids. I saw her through the reflection in the store window, walking to the bathroom, sheepishly looking at me and side eyeing her kids. I wondered how long it had been since she had been able to go to the bathroom by herself.
Then the littlest one started to walk about the store. This is when panic set in. One kid went to the bathroom, the oldest was firmly entrenched in his screen time and the littlest one was deciding to adventure. Fuck, how do people do this?! I followed the little one around basically making sure he didn’t kill himself, my dog in tow. It was a glorious moment when I realized mom was coming back, I pointed and said, “One’s there, one’s in the bathroom and the other is where you left him!” Then I went back to my seat. It’s amazing just how much can happen, can be thought of, can be felt and processed in that space of what was probably not even five minutes. I felt compassion, empathy, impatience, anger, humor, and gratitude. The mom walked over to me and thanked me and acknowledged “what kind of mother would be desperate enough to leave her kids with a total stranger?” and she told me about how they had wanted four, but stopped at three. She looked completely exhausted and overwhelmed. In that moment all of the angst and fear that I felt left and there was nothing there but utter compassion for this woman.
I looked down at my pup as he gazed at me, eyes pleading to leave. I pet his head and told him a few more minutes and with a sigh he laid down. I watched the mom walk out to her car, moving her kids as if she was herding cats. Her face showed the fatigue, the worry, the love… and when she turned and looked at me she smiled.
It is sometimes, the littlest bits of humanity that create the biggest ripples.
I will never know what impact I had on that woman’s life, but I do know for a few brief moments she was able to find solitude and respite. And for me, what did I gain? A great training arena for my dog, some pride in his actions, appreciation for the choices that I have made in life and a whole lotta pride for helping that woman out.
Sometimes self love is doing something you don’t want to and turning it into a situation that benefits you and shows you some of your heart. ❤ ❤