Lessons on fear: one

Lesson One

Josie and I stayed away from the dog. We were lounging in plastic chairs in the shade, taking a break from a hot, busy morning at the shelter. The medium-sized black dog belonging to one of the cleaning women was tied up a few feet away.

“I think she’s getting nicer,” I said.

“Yeah, she lets me get closer now, but she’s still a little scary,” said Josie.

We sat, looking at the young dog, which regarded us warily. Josie stood to get something out of her scooter. As she passed the dog, she looked down at it.

“Oh, no. She has a tick on her neck.” Josie said.

I stood and moved closer. “You mean the one on her ear?” I asked.

“No. What? There’s one on her ear, too?” Josie moved a little closer to the dog. Neither of us dared to touch her, but the the ticks were huge.

“I’ll get Joey!” I declared, and I jogged to the office where Joey sat. I’d seen him pet the dog earlier that morning.

After I alerted Joey to the situation, he came out with me, walked straight to the dog, bent down and gently took its head in his hands. The dog, still uneasy but more comfortable in Joey’s presence, made no noises and continued watching Josie and me.

Joey spoke to the dog in Chinese and flung a tick away. Josie and I shrieked, and I stepped on the tick to kill it. Blood stained the pavement.

“Eeeew!” Josie and I exclaimed, and Joey continued, pushing the dog’s head this way and that, searching for more. He flicked another tick our way, which I promptly stomped, then a third smaller tick, which Josie and I killed.

Joey held the dogs face in his hands, speaking to it in Chinese. Finally, in English for our benefit, he said, “You don’t know English!” to the dog. He rubbed its head, stood, smiled at Josie and me, then walked back into the office.

While Josie and I both have confidence around dogs, we let fear get in the way sometimes. It’s understandable: Josie was seriously bitten in the face not too long ago by a scared dog. Other times, it’s baseless: I’m just a worrywart.

Joey does not express fear with dogs. He acts in confidence around them, with an air of positive energy and strength; he does not anticipate a problem, but reacts accordingly if something happens.

Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.  (Benjamin Franklin)

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