August 20th, 2012
Last night, my dog got into a major scuffle with a goat at Kamp Klamath, our camping spot for the night. To be fair, the goat wasn’t actually participating in this scuffle. More like, my dog was charging straight at this poor old goat who was tied up in the middle of a field, barking at him, and running around him in circles.
And as I stood there, in the middle of the field trying to say “STOP IT” and “NO!” in all my “I’M SERIOUS” voices, nothing stopped my dog. He would not pay attention to me, whatsoever. Not even in the slightest. Which is unlike my dog who is usually one of the most well behaved of any bunch.
And it kept getting worse. Coach got more and more riled up. The goat got more and more upset. And all I wanted to do was cry. I tried different things. I tried walking away. I tried being a buffer of the two animals. I tried standing there calmly and strongly. And seriously nothing worked. And not only that, but I had an audience. Two young boys who had come over to see what all the ruckus was about.
Rufus, the oldest, asked me if I normally had my dog under control. A low blow, coming from a 10 year old.
And so I stood there, defeated, embarrassed, feeling like a failure, until finally, my dog wore himself out. At which point I tried the old “walk away” trick and it worked, and as soon as Coach got close enough, I ordered him to lie down, which he did immediately. One small feat.
I hung my head a bit low on the walk back to my campsite. Feeling like a jerk for having the dog that was 1) out of my control; and 2) mean to a poor old goat. And I thought about what had just happened, and how terrible I felt. Not only because of the situation itself, but mostly because it was so completely out of my control. No matter what I tried, nothing worked. And my dog is generally very well behaved. And so I felt like a failure, as a mother, and as a dog owner, and all my old thoughts crept back in. “Maybe I’m not fit to be a mother.” “Maybe he’d be better off with someone else.” “Maybe I need to get us some major training.” “I can’t trust my dog.”
Ouch. Those hurt.
Among all these thoughts, I thought about life, and realized that all of life is out of our control. No matter how well-behaved our dogs usually are, sometimes they might do something we can’t control. No matter how much we think we know how our lives are going to turn out, some wrench shows up out of nowhere.
So how good we are at life should not be measured in how able we are to control every little detail. But rather in how present and creative we can be amidst uncomfortable and unknown situations. How resilient we can be after things don’t go according to plan.
Because honestly, my plan last night was to play ball with my dog. Not be sent into an existential questioning about my merit as a (dog) mother.
And so we got back to the campsite. I gave the boy a squeeze and decided to let it go. My dog is a good dog. I am a good mother. No matter what unsatisfactory situation happened tonight, tomorrow is a new day. Perhaps we can work on voice control. And definitely, in the presence of goats, I will be carrying a leash from here on out.
Does this post resonate with you? What are some of things in your life that feel out of your hands? What do you do when you experience that? Leave a comment below and share with anyone you think might enjoy it.
P.s. I’m keeping a fun photo-journal of my journey over on Instagram. You can find me at @sallyhope. Or add me on Facebook since all the pics are there too. WEEEE!