It was one of those beautiful fall days where a gentle breeze incited colors to play in the sunlight. The dog was tied to the tree by a long rope. Coonhounds are rather short in stature and do not look very threatening, though this one summoned a low growl as I approached. I was undaunted ~ surely he would be happy to be my friend.
Our neighbors are rarely outside, but they had friends over helping to create some new landscaping along the front of their home. My husband and I were greeted warmly as we walked up the lawn to compliment them on their hard work. “It’s okay,” she said to the dog as I offered the back of my hand for him to smell my scent. He seemed a bit nervous, but I raised my hand up to pet the top of his head anyway. That’s when he latched on. The wound drew blood, but that’s not what hurt.
I was trying to be kind and loving and I got bit. That’s never happened to me before from any animals except the humans, and it put me in a place of deep reflection. The spiritual path I follow is one where I look for the light within others regardless of how they’re behaving, and I try to be a loving presence toward all I meet. Yet, there have been times when I’ve picked up on various cues that someone was not in a receptive place ~ but I persisted in giving them loving attention until the bite poked deep. Admittedly, part of this has to do with an unhealthy desire on my part to be liked at all costs (I’ll keep working on that one).
The lesson is this ~ it is judicious to see the light in others regardless of their behavior, but don’t invade their territory unless they desire to let you in. Knowing where the boundaries are is important as even love can be seen as a threat when someone is in a fearful place. I am very grateful for this clear message ~ thank you, my dear dog neighbor.
Later that night the doorbell rang. My neighbors were there with a big bouquet of flowers and many apologies. “Please,” I said, “Let me be the one to apologize. Your dog warned me he was afraid and told me to back away, but I didn’t listen. I am so sorry for causing this stress. Please be extra kind and loving to him.” Once bitten ~ all the wiser!
Pen Augustin is author of Waves of Light and The Priestess Tale series. She is also founder of Lady of the Lake Holistic Health. Pen loves to give messages about how we can heal ourselves and bring balance to our beloved planet. Living near the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, she enjoys spending time in nature and communing with the local wildlife.