I have a dog named Sammy. He likes to bark. He barks when someone walks by. He barks at other dogs, cats, frogs, when there is action in the house and he’s missing it. He barks when he wants out and when he wants in. He barks all the time.
So it’s not uncommon around our house to hear me speaking firmly, “Sammy quiet!”
Some nights back I was winding down for the night slowly heading for bed. Suddenly, Sammy’s familiar barking exploded outside. My first thought was “Oh goodness, he’ll wake up the neighbors.”
“Sammy! Quiet!” I ordered.
A few minutes of silence followed, but once again Sammy started kind of barking with his mouth shut. A bark and whimper all in one. So down the stairs I went to speak a little more firmly.
When I opened the door, there was Sammy whimpering towards the water pail. I pulled the pail out and a big rat headed across the floor at full speed with Sammy in pursuit. In seconds that rat was dead. Sammy looked up at me, almost smiling as he wagged his tail. I patted him on the head, saying, “Good dog, Sammy.”
Sammy has a reputation- for barking. So my assumption is he barks for no reason. For Sammy, he always has a reason, but it not always obvious to me.
People are a lot like that. We don’t always like their behavior but they will always have a reason for the way they act. When people behave a certain way rather consistently, we sometimes close off all objectivity and as soon as it starts we have already decided, “There they go again.”
What about if this time it was our behavior or words that set it off? Or what about if we have become so insensitive to that person that we no longer care how we ourselves behave or speak? Then it could be us who has caused the “barking”.
Just because Sammy barks doesn’t mean that his barking is all bad. Just because someone is a certain way does not mean they should be dismissed from our responsibility.
I suggest, next time you are dealing with one of those repeated encounters, with “barkers”, pause a minute and open-mindedly evaluate the situation. You may be able to do something about it.
And there might be a big “rat” hiding behind something.
So that’s my lesson from the dog and the rat.