The little dog’s bark

Our little dog Molly is a demon in disguise. She is a mix between a soft-coated Wheaten Terrier and a Jack Russell. So there is the spunky, smart, take-on-all-comers attitude about her that regularly makes life interesting. She has had a tendency to bark ferociously at other dogs as we pass them on the walking path in the morning. It is truly blood-curdling to hear the deep, throaty snarl and see her launch herself violently toward the other dog, only to come to the end of her leash and be spun into the air. It would be funny if it were not so vicious.

The other day, after the 88th repetition of this little stunt in the past two days, my wife had an amazing insight. She realized that Molly’s behavior was the very worst around the largest dogs. When being approached by a smaller dog, she is very nearly manageable! There is only a mild bark… no snarling, no “I’ll rip your face off!!” growl or lunging. We can actually semi-control her.

That got me to thinking… maybe Molly’s fierce reaction to the bigger dogs comes not from rage or anger but rather from fear! The lab or the German Sheperd or big goofy water dog intimidates her, so her response is to lash out angrily hoping to pass that same fear along to the other dog. Mostly they don’t pay the slightest bit of attention and just go their way placidly amid the noise.

So then I wondered a little further… isn’t that exactly what you and I do? We lash out at the things we fear the most. I remember when it became obvious that I was going to have no choice but to take the course in Feminist Theology despite my efforts to dodge it, I made no bones at all about what a bunch of nonsense I thought that was. “Come on… a whole entire theology just for women? Can’t we just have a theology for people?”

My resistance – as I realized later – was based on nothing other than fear… a fear of having long-held and satisfying paradigms messed with… of perhaps having to reconsider my own spiritual map of the universe. Since that time I have tried to stop and notice a correlation between an “attack” response (on my part) and a deep-seated fear that might have been surfaced. And then, if I am willing to make this journey, I find that the real payoff comes in facing the reality of the fear and asking “Why?”

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