I am not a natural animal person. As a girl, I was afraid of animals. This fear could have originated from those Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom shows we used to watch at my house. There would be scenes of peaceful animals going about the business of their day, like grazing on the grass, and then out of nowhere a predator would appear and snatch one of them up. Frightening! I used to play in the grass and had no idea if a wild animal was lurking around the corner.
At around the age of 8 years old, I was outside in the front of our house and a dog came up to me and just shoved me to the ground. I scuffed my knee and then was forever frightened of dogs. Now as an adult I think the dog was just coming up to me to say hi and jump up on me as a friendly gesture. At the time I just didn't know dog language.
Things have really changed since then. I now live with three dogs and one bearded dragon. Each one of them is a nonviolent creature that just needs care and love. Things really changed for me when we got our little tree walker coon hound puppy back in 2010. She was like my fourth child. I would rock her and sleep next to her on the couch. I learned from the vet that when her paws were out and she was rambunctious she just wanted to play. The fact that she wanted my hand in her mouth during that playing was just a natural thing for her and had nothing with her wanting to bite me. Sofie made me a dog person.
Today I was about to leave the house to go run errands. Jake was up and looked good so I asked if he wanted to come along. He did and was off and away in the car pretty quick. I never know when he will feel good enough to get out of the house, so when he does we go!
After one stop he told me that he would like to go to the animal shelter to look at dogs. He has been wanting a dog of his own. He needs a companion and someone there with him to give him comfort. I really want this for him, but I don't really want four dogs underfoot.
We enjoyed going through the kennel looking at the different dogs. The first dog I tried to connect with was scared and shaking. A few other dogs would let me touch them. One dog was so sweet and gave me kisses on the chin through the cage.
I chatted with one of the workers about how to treat these types of dogs. The conversation started because I was curious why some of the kennel doors had plexiglass covering over the barred doors. He said it was to keep little people from sticking their fingers in. We talked about how to treat dogs by letting them come to you and how some dogs have been so mistreated by humans that these animals are scared and need to be handled with love and care.
I talked to him about how dogs can teach us about humans. When humans are hurt by other humans they bark and bite and live in fear of being hurt again. Humans put up defenses just like dogs do. The difference is that we have verbal language and animals don't (yes I know they bark but they do not speak with words). Yet, both humans and animals have body language that can be learned and read.
I am more of a people person than an animal person. Over the years I have learned to better read body language of both animals and humans. A friendly open person is one who has worked through their hurts (because we all have hurts) or is one who has very few hurts and they are open to others. Just like a dog that mostly knows love is open to new people. A hurt person shuts parts of themselves off and protects with keeping people out, dogs do the same. Both will bite you and you need to be careful.
The lesson of the day: Take your time with people and dogs and asses them by observing body language and what humans say. People will unconsciously tell you if they are open to you entering there space or not. If an animal says no to you respect those boundaries, if you don't you may get bit. Human's are a bit more tricky, they will fake things to gain your trust to gain access to you without opening themselves up to you in honesty (meaning their motives). Like with an animal, proceed with caution and observe before you take one home (into your life). Remember, if you listen to both animal and people, they will tell you what you need to know about them.