“Hey, why are you letting your dog hurt this poor child?”
At least, that’s what I think the rather large Turkish man was yelling at me. I’m not really sure because I don’t speak much Turkish.
This happened a few days ago in the local park in Antalya, Turkey.
For a little background, you should understand something about Turkish culture and view of dogs: by and large, they are scared of them. Most people, when they realize a dog is friendly, like them well enough, but the general view is “mean until proven sweet.”
Thus, I have no end to the amount of people running away in terror from my 15 lb Jack Russell Terrier. It’s really quite funny when you get over how sad it is. Why be afraid of something you could easily punt 30 yards with one good kick?
Anyway, while at the park, my fiancée and I let Link (said Jack Russell) run around without a leash. He usually stays within 100 feet of the two of us, sniffs around, and then lies down under whatever bench we’re sitting on.
He’s very friendly and is good with children, so we don’t really have any issues doing this.
On this particular day, it was Cigdem (fiancée), Sude (fiancee’s five year old niece) and I sitting on a bench petting Link. The weather was beautiful and we had been enjoying the peaceful setting for about an hour.
Two young boys, roughly ten years old, walked by and noticed Link. They stopped and reached out their hands to pet the dog. He let them pet his head and even licked their fingers.
After a few seconds of petting, the smaller of the two boys thinks it will be fun to race the dog. I assume this is what he was thinking; I’ll never really know. Anyway, he begins to run in circles around the dog.
Link, thinking this is a fun game, begins to chase the boy. The boy takes off running toward the playground laughing. As Link gets close to the boy’s legs, he barks, letting the boy know he’s back there.
This is where things get a little ugly. The boy mistakes the bark for a threat and screams, pumping his little legs faster in terror. Fear and speed don’t always equate to coordination, and this is one of those times. The boy trips over his own two feet and falls to the paved walkway.
Link, thinking he won, playfully jumps on the back of the boy’s legs and barks. This is quite possibly the scariest event in the boy’s life. He begins wailing in terror while I call for my dog to return. He’s well-trained and comes back immediately.
About this time, a Turkish man walks around the corner and sees the crying boy. He asks what happened and the boy tearfully recites his harrowing experience. The man gets angry and begins yelling at me in Turkish. Since I had no idea what he was saying, I smiled and waved.
Fortunately, an old man sitting on a bench saw the events unfold and told the man what happened.
As I sat there petting my very proud pooch, I began to think about how life really works, and how much we can learn from working with dogs.
Dogs, as intelligent and emotional as they are, are really very simple creatures.
If you feed a dog, he will probably like you.
If you pet a dog, he will start to trust you.
If you give a dog a bath, he will more than likely shake water off. On you.
Finally, if you run from a dog, he WILL CHASE YOU!
This isn’t news for anyone who’s ever owned or worked with dogs. They are bred to chase things running away from them. The best thing to do when confronted with an angry dog is to stand your ground or even approach the beast. Running is always the worst.
The same mentality can be used to overcome fear. Fear is like a dog in that it only chases us when we start running.
Whenever we are afraid of something, we can move in two directions: toward our fear or away from it. When we move away from fear, it hounds us. We can’t outrun it and every second our hearts pound in anticipation of the pain. We become reckless, and often clumsy, tripping over ourselves and making mistakes in our reckless abandon to get away from the fear. Usually, we end up flat on our face crying when the fear catches up to us.
The other approach, facing your fears head on, has a very different outcome. The fear may still growl at us and even snap its jaws, but when we show we aren’t afraid, the fear backs down.
This approach gets easier over time and with practice. The first time I stared down a dog, my heart was pounding like a Metallica concert. The second time, it was more of a Norah Jones’ tempo. Now, my heart doesn’t beat at all. I know the dog will back away eventually.
The same thing happens with financial fears now. I used to become very frightened and run from my money problems. Now, I confront them head on and come up with a game plan. The moment I stand my ground and start to take action, the fear begins to subside.
So, whenever you come across anything you are afraid of, stand your ground or even advance on what causes you to be afraid. I guarantee the fear’s bark is worse than its bite.
Now, the YOU part: What fears have you running right now? Please, leave your answer in the comment section below.
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