You may have notice that the last few blogs I’ve written have centered around puppies. That tends to happen when you have a litter of 11 little yappers that take up most of your life. While you’re taking care of them, you learn all kinds of lessons in a short amount of time.
If you’ve been around puppies at all, you know they like to do two things:
- Chew on things
Ok, there’s a third thing: play by chewing on each other.
Most of the time, their playing is all in good fun, with the occasional yip when somebody gets a bit too rough. But after while, as they get tired, the tone of their play gets a bit tense. Then you know it’ll be just moments before it gets nasty.
When I say nasty, I mean, they snarl and snap at each other. When ours start to do that, I’ll just reach in there and break them up and push them away from each other. After all, I’m the alpha–the one in charge.
So, the other day, the snarling and snapping started with an intensity I haven’t seen in awhile. When I reached in to separate them, my hand went right in front of Basil as he counter-attacked Sage’s offensive with a savage big. Yep. He chomped my thumb HARD. I yipped just like a puppy who was hurt. I wasn’t even faking.
As I yanked my hand back to see if my thumb was still there I saw that it was, and that I was bleeding profusely. After dripping blood on the floor as I went to wash my gashes, I put triple antibiotic on their and three bandaids. As I soaked in my pain and humiliation, I asked myself, “What I have I learned from this?” Good question. In fact, we should all follow this line of inquiry after a failure. It can be painful to our ego, but enlightening.
Here are a few things I learned.
- Consider the possible danger before jumping between two animals in conflict. In fact, this applies to humans, too. Even if it looks like an abusive situation, both people often turn snarling and snapping at you.
- Check the ego. Am I truly trying to help because it’s the thing to do? Or maybe I just want to look like the “alpha” to the people around me.
- When it comes to people, I am not called to be a miniature Holy Spirit. Most of the time, my job is to be kind and supportive, offering advice only when asked.
- If I am asked for advice, be kind, yet candid. You do folks no favors by candy-coating the truth to spare them. And yes, you do run the risk of making them angry. As the great advertising guru Roy “The Wizard of Ads” Williams famously says, “The risk of offense is the price of clarity.”
In the end, before we step in, three words apply. Count the cost. And have bandaids ready.