Roxy spent the night with her eyes transfixed on the basement door. That’s all that separated her from a game of chase with the world’s most awesome squeaky toy—a stray kitten we rescued from the frigid winter’s night.
I tried calling her. I shooed her away and tempted her with food. I tried blocking her from the door. Even “claiming” the kitten, like a foolish pack leader would. But, alas, she is a pit bull terrier and they are pretty determined creatures.
On that night, she was more determined than me.
And the next night. And the next.
Then I crumbled. I borrowed a friend’s vibrating collar. I gave her warning beeps, which momentarily broke her concentration. Then she would return to burning a hole in the door.
So I did it.
In my desperation and weakness, I delivered the zap. Only once.
That was four years ago.
Since then, heaven help us if our fire alarm goes off or one of their batteries dies. We had to skip the episode of Modern Family about the dead battery in the fire alarm. The crock pot, any timers, and certain microwaves all strike fear into her heart of another zap.
And just today, as we sat outside for an afternoon potty break, something off in the distance began beeping.
I didn’t notice until Roxy started circling me. Her eyes were wide in fright, tail tucked way under her belly. I took her inside where she proceeded to shake so violently, I could hear her vibrating against the floor. Thankfully, it only took a minute or two (and some Christmas music) to change her mind set.
All because in a moment of weakness, I bullied her. Even though my dogs have taught me a lot about self-compassion, I’ve never felt so evil.
I’ve also gained some valuable insights from that incident. In thinking about why I made that choice, and in studying particularly nasty people I have regular access to, I think I’ve found a pattern for why people say or do unkind things to others. Whether we attack another’s looks, skills, or choices, whether it’s a one-time thing, mindless habit, or calculating animosity, and regardless of what kind of being the victim is—it all stems from the offender’s sense of weakness or lacking. Usually in the very area they’re attacking in the other person.
I’ve learned to recognize this in myself and others. This makes it much easier to decide how to handle a bully—whether to deflect, ignore, or shut them down.
More importantly, Roxy doesn’t let me forget the consequences of unkind actions. She makes me more determined than ever to accomplish whatever goal I set for myself without hurting anyone in the process. More determined than a pit bull terrier staring at a door separating her from a kitten.
Thank you for stopping by!