I’m emotional and I have a big mouth. Two things that have gotten me into lots of trouble. As I’ve gotten older, I have learned that my opinion is just that, my opinion, and that telling someone what I think about the way they are treating their dog doesn’t matter to them. Sometimes I still get myself into trouble. A few months ago I witnessed an off leash dog narrowly miss getting hit by a car. I jumped out of the car to try and call it and a man walking down the street turned the corner and kept walking. After a few minutes the dog ran off after the man and I asked him if that was his dog. “Yes” he said and kept walking. I asked if he saw it almost get hit by a car and he told me to “mind my own business”. Some very unflattering words came out of my mouth and I got back in my car and drove off. Did I feel any better for what I said? No. Did I change his mind about being an idiot for allowing his dog to run down the street off leash? No.
Several years ago I listened to a speaker talk about “maps of reality”. Every single person has their own map of reality based on what they have learned from teachers, parents, friends, acquaintances and experiences. These maps of reality make up our “beliefs” about what is right and wrong and how we should act. Sometimes we fail to realize that our map of reality might be skewed and it’s quite possible that what we believe really isn’t true.
I grew up in sunny California and we had a dog named Crybaby. She was never allowed in the house and spent 100% of her time in our backyard, alone. It breaks my heart now when I think about it. I loved her, but as a child, I never really thought about spending time with my dog. She was just a dog, an animal. What was wrong with her spending all of her time outside? THAT was my map of reality.
Fast forward many years and my heart breaks for a neighbors dog that is condemned to a life alone in the backyard. When I walk by I wonder why they even have a dog. I have to remind myself that everyone has a different map of reality. Maybe they grew up in a family that believes that animals belong outside.
Cali is my first dog. The day we got her we ran out and bought a bunch of books on how to raise a puppy. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but we decided to educate ourselves. The more we learned, the worse I felt about my childhood dog. Luckily, my husband grew up in a house where the dog was a part of his family and I learned a new map of reality. The reality where a dog is an integral part of the family, not a possession you keep in the back yard for your entertainment.
So how can I change my neighbors mind about leaving their dog outside? Or the mind of the guy that is letting his dog ride in the back of a truck? How about the minds of the people that believe Pitt Bulls are a dangerous breed? We can’t. All we can hope to do is expand their maps of reality by sharing our experiences, and try to educate them by showing them another way. Hopefully then, they begin to question their beliefs and develop new ones. I know it can be done, I’m living proof!
I have some ideas that I’m working on to help spread the word, our challenge is getting the information in front of the people that really need it. I feel like it’s a worthy cause, don’t you? How will you help make the world a better place for animals? I can’t wait to hear all about it!THIS is the life!