Fear. We all experience it. We all allow it in some way to affect our behavior and our choices. Sometimes we face our fears and sometimes we run from them. The same is true of our dogs.
This past weekend I was reminded just how much we fear what is unfamiliar to us. Hmmm ... we're not that much different in that respect to our dogs. It can often cause issues for us when our dogs react with fear to something new they are encountering. That's why we try so hard to socialize our dogs and expose them in a happy way to all the things we can think of when they are young. This will reduce the number of things they may find unusual and scary.
My heart was truly touched, and I want to share a story with you, about a person I met this past weekend. After hearing me talk about Treasure, a woman commented to me hesitantly that she had never seen a dog without eyes before. When I asked her if she'd like to have a closer look at Treasure's eyes, she quickly said yes.
But when I lifted Treasure so the woman could see her face, my heart sank. I saw this woman quickly turn her face away as her eyes filled with tears. Try as she might, she couldn't make herself look at Treasure's face. She tried again and again, but each time she turned away crying. She told me that Treasure's eyes scared her. But she didn't want to be afraid. She was afraid because this was something so different from anything she had known before.
I wanted so much to reassure her. To let her know that this wasn't such a scary thing. But as we all know, fear is very personal. Just because we say it's OK, doesn't mean the person (or dog) will suddenly not be afraid anymore. I did reassure her that Treasure wasn't in any pain, and I told her about the special care I give Treasure to keep her eyes clean and pain free.
My heart went out to this woman. She wanted to understand and feel comfortable. Yet her fear held her back. It was then I realized that she had not yet actually met and interacted with Treasure. She had only looked at her. When I asked if she would like to meet Treasure, she was very eager to do so.
It only took a moment before this woman was holding Treasure in her arms against her chest. I stepped back and just quietly watched while Treasure worked her magic. The tears faded away quickly and were overtaken by a huge and joyful smile which stuck around a while! And guess what? All of that woman's fear faded away too. She was able to now look at Treasure with a smile on her face and understanding in her heart.
The story itself is heartwarming. I experience stories like this often when Treasure works her magic. But this story left me with a new perspective of fear. I told you about this woman's fear, but what the story is really about is her courage to see past that fear. Her courage to come to an understanding. Once we have an understanding of something, it is no longer different and scary. Then the fear can leave and compassion can arrive.
It also caused me to think about the similarities between us and our dogs and how we experience fear of things and others that are different. Why do we continue to be afraid of those who are different than us? Is it because we allow our fear to hold us at a distance so we don't ever become familiar with those differences? I learned something amazing from that woman. Her willingness to learn about something she feared broadened her life experiences and made her a new friend. I hope the next time I feel fear or uncertainty about someone's difference, that I can make a similar choice. Thank you, my new friend, for this lesson from the heart!