Our beloved portie, Luna, was attacked by a boxer rescue in our neighborhood last month. It was frightful. The dogs approached each other, tails wagging. Then, the boxer lunged for Luna, locking her jaws around our pup’s nose. Fortunately, the owner was able to force her dog to loosen the hold and restrain her. But, the damage was done. I ran home with Lu, wondering the whole way what emergency vet we might go to for stitches on Easter Sunday.
We cleaned her wounds and found they were not deep enough for stitches; so, we committed to a medicating routine 3 times a day. Thankfully, she completely healed in two weeks. However, I suffered some post traumatic stress from the incident, experiencing excruciating jaw pain the next day. And, I now have a guarded tense posture every time I walk anywhere near a dog with a choke collar in our ‘hood.
I have had many thoughts about the whole incident. Thoughts about how many dogs are living in our city because of human desire for companionship. Then, thoughts about the lack of sustained commitment and loving care for so many of those chosen best friend dogs. Chicago has a major pet abandonment issue like many other cities. Shelters are overflowing with rescues that need good homes and committed care. However, a conversation with the boxer’s owner last week shifted my thoughts.
I ran into the husband on his way to work. He asked how Lu was doing and I responded. I also asked if he could somehow show dominance over his pup when we walked by their house. The boxer still barks viciously at their front window and I have always been told that dogs who are prey-oriented need to be shown dominance from their owner. He responded by telling me that she does this with every dog that walks by. And, he also told me that their dog trainer said that the boxer is insecure. The trainers prescription was for the owners to spend more time looking into their dog’s eyes while training/playing, in hopes that loving human eye contact cures her insecurity. I was a little shocked by his response; but, I stopped and again pondered deep.
I have always believed that loving care provides more powerful healing than top-down authority or dominance. So, could it be that these rescue dogs are very similar to many of our city’s kids – insecure? Insecure because so many have been abandoned in their formative years, never receiving unconditional love, safe guidelines or nurturing support. They have had to conform to top-down authority and insensitive cultural systems without any regard for their feelings, how they are gifted or a village that deeply cares for them.
Both humans and dogs seem to thrive from some type of top-down leadership. However, that type of leadership doesn’t tend to work well without an equal amount of true delighting-in-you love within a home and from a supportive surrounding community… for dogs or our kids. That being so, it just seems that Chicago’s healing plan for our children cannot be about top-down leadership, or government services or our go-to education answer as the cure-all solution for every troubled child in under-resourced neighborhoods. To me, it seems like we must all deeply contemplate our personal lifestyle choices, rethink how we passionately love others not like us and begin looking deep into every single kid’s eyes in this city…