Scary Dogs, Empathy and Confidence

Apr 23, 2009Heal from the past

Hubby and I had an interesting interchange last night while we walked Pippin the wonderdog at the park. Hubby likes to let Pippin be free, off leash. This freaks me out, not because Pippin is a naughty dog (he’s very sweet), but because I remember how deeply afraid I was of dogs growing up and there were kids and adults around who may have had that same fear.

When Pippin ran, unleashed, toward a boy, I saw terror in his eyes. I knew that look. I grabbed Pippin and asked hubby to please re-leash him. “When there are people around, we have to leash him,” I told my husband.

“I have never seen anyone be afraid of Pippin,” he said. Nonetheless, at my kind (nagging!) insistence, he fixed the leash on Pippin.

“I see it,” I said.

As I ran this morning, I mulled over the interchange in my mind. Because I’d been bitten by a neighbor dog and chased by dobermans, I had an instinctive empathy to anyone who might be afraid of dogs. Since my husband didn’t have that experience with dogs growing up, he was somewhat blinded by people’s worry.

It’s not that either of us is right or wrong, just different.

I need to let go a bit, which is what my husband emulates. He helps me be free.

But he also needs to know there are afraid people out there. He needs some caution.

Here’s my final formulation: I can thank God for the dogs that terrified me. Why? Because in the aftermath of that, I have empathy. And Patrick can thank God he didn’t face scary dogs. Why? Because in the aftermath of that, he has confidence.

Confidence and empathy, both good things. Which is why I love marriage, why I enjoy what God creates between the two of us: a blessed balance.