Reprinted from December 27, 2017
Recently, we had a single mouse who wreaked havoc on our small household. Not simply because there was a mouse in the house. Oh NO! We have 3 tiny dogs that fancy themselves great hunters of wild beasts great and small!
Picture it…legs are up, snuggled beneath a cozy blanket in your favorite chair, watching a program on TV with your spouse and BAM! All peace shattered instantly. Your three Yorkies have seen a little gray creature scurry across the living room floor and head right for THEIR food bowl! How dare the BEAST head toward their food? And moreover, what is this wild beast doing in their territory? And so it begins; dogs barking wildly, mouse hurriedly scurrying to the nearest ‘safe zone’ aka the radiant heat register, and the hunt ensues. With nose in full detect mode, the youngest Yorkie, Bailey feels it is her DUTY to save everyone from the wild beast known as “Mouse”. With the peace of the evening shattered, you attempt to console Bailey as she runs her nose along the heat registers with no sign of Mouse. She continues for some 45 minutes before her initial attempts to relax once again. Bailey returns to her hunt no less than 20 times in a span of fewer minutes. By this time, the prospect of enjoying a peaceful evening watching TV has ended. While the Yorkies were not successful in eliminating the threat brought by the wild beast Mouse, they did succeed in letting you know they were watching and protecting. Your little guardians were quite pleased with themselves and continued to search for the mouse for days after that initial encounter.
It is often funny to think of how a situation is viewed by the different parties involved. While our pups thought themselves great heroes for defending their territory, we felt quite the opposite; annoyed and irritated that a simple mouse could disrupt the peaceful evening we had been enjoying. This story illustrates the differing perspectives of humans and animals but can easily be applied to other stakeholders in any given situation. Perspective plays a HUGE role in disagreements, negotiations, actions, decisions, etc. Of course, the story of our pups did not result in any life threatening or damaging consequences; however, that is not always the case in life. Being able to seek out another’s perspective in a situation before making key decisions or taking action is a vital aspect of adult life. Yet, today’s society has been trained to react rather than respond. Reacting is akin to what my pups did… they saw something out-of-place and went immediately into attack mode. The Yorkies are probably not capable of responding, only reacting. As humans, we have (or should have) a much stronger ability to reason and assess situations and therefore, should also have the ability to respond. Responding enlists purposefully evaluating the situation and making a decision based in thought rather than just emotion.
Am I splitting a very thin hair here? Perhaps. However, there is a distinction between reacting (automatic usually emotional, no thought to the results) and responding (purposeful, thought through and assessed for possible outcomes). Our world moves at break neck speed and we are often expected to give an immediate reaction. Unfortunately, when the situation is not one we have encountered previously, we may react without thought or regard for possible consequences; be they positive or negative. These reactions are also more often steeped with emotions brought about by the given situation. For example, a person takes the parking space you were just turning into. You react, right? Usually with profanity or anger, sometimes both. And maybe flying the bird just because you have seen it/done it so many times before. Then you realize you know the person. It is the pastor’s wife or your boss’ daughter.. OH CRUD! Now what?
We all have situations that trigger us to react rather than respond. Each of us should strive to respond to as many situations as possible. When someone is pushing you for a reaction, ask them if you can have a moment to think it through. Most people would be grateful that you care enough to give it thoughtful energy! Do a self-assessment of your daily routine. Do you have certain situations where you simply react? How about those which you respond to?
Well, I’m off to train my Yorkies how to respond to the mouse in the house…. wish me luck!
Pictured is the loving Teddy Bear. He is our little hunter/catcher of all things fast. Teddy is fast, furious, and couldn’t kill a fly but would be the FIRST of our Yorkies to catch one!