A few weeks ago, my nephew Mitchel was walking their small family dog, Barney (pictured here in all his cuteness).
They took their normal route around the village, which included walking through fields and woodland. Plenty of other dog walkers do the same in this beautiful part of England. Unfortunately, one of those walkers did not keep their dog properly under control and it attacked poor Barney, resulting in the need for a trip to the vet, who prescribed antibiotics to ward off infection. Perhaps more significantly, the episode traumatised Mitchel, causing him great distress and undermining his confidence in going out for a walk.
My sister posted a concerned message on Facebook, warning friends and family about this aggressive dog. She received lots of sympathy and a few suggestions about possible next steps. What none of us expected, however, was the following reply:
“I am so sorry Rachel. It was our dog who went after your little dog with no provocation at all. I still don’t know why and I can’t apologise enough. Your son was crying and so was I. All dogs are off the leads in the woods so they can have a good run. Please let us have your vet’s bill. We live in [X] and everyone knows us. Please forgive us. We were at the School sports last week and you were wonderful. XXX”
How very brave of the owner to come forward like this. How easy it would have been for them simply to stay silent. Instead, Rachel was able to thank them very much for speaking up, and very importantly was able to help Mitchel to recover from the incident.
The owner’s actions reminded me of the following short but powerful video, full of wise advice from Dr Maya Angelou. (This is part of a series filmed for the Oprah Winfrey Network, another edition of which I featured in this post.)
In just three words, Dr Angelou gives us an unbeatable way to assess how we should behave in life. I have watched this video a few times now, and I love the way in which Dr Angelou articulates a potentially complex philosphy in such straightforward and undeniable terms.
I think most of us know, in our gut, how to act in a way which chimes with our core values. Of course, for myriad reasons, we don’t always take the decision to follow through on that action. But we often know in our heart that we should/could have chosen differently. How much better, then, to take the ‘right’ course in the first place. As Dr Angelou says, such action will ‘satisfy your soul’; it will enable you to engage with the world on your terms and make it better.
The dog owner in my sister’s case has done exactly that. Bravo to her for doing so, and for setting us all an excellent example.