(Sigh, okay this is actually from last week but I’ve been busy)
Gracie came with me on my interval run this week (six minutes of running/three minutes of walking x5). Luckily, I earned my place as the neighborhood lunatic in the process.
Gracie is “leash trained” but she still goes psycho when she sees another dog. And by psycho, I mean she tries to rip its face off and eat it for dinner. I think perhaps she is trying to protect herself and me, but usually the other dog is approximately six times larger than she is and could obviously destroy her with one well-placed breath. On our run this week, she tried to do this on a street that was full of other walkers with better, well-behaved dogs.
When Gracie goes into one of her rages, the only way I can snap her out of it is by squatting down at her eye level (in a manner that looks like I’m going to use the facilities in a developing country), holding her down on the ground, and staring her in the eye, sometimes out of the side of my face. (As a sidenote, if I ever hold you down to the ground, then I mean business.) As I did this on our run this week, I realized that some of the walkers were staring at me in horror and the man who was walking the large German shepherd actually sneered a little and then patted his well-behaved dog on the head. I may or may not have glared at him from across the street.
I’m sure animal control got a few calls, “Um, there’s a woman wearing moderately stylish tennis shoes who is holding her dog on the ground and squatting like she’s going to poop on it while she stares it in the face. I don’t really know how to handle it.”
C’est la vie, right? Sometimes dogs are embarrassing. Gracie needs to know that it’s not acceptable to rip her owner’s arm out of socket so that she can pretend to be protecting said owner and so I need to deal with it when it’s happening.
Perhaps Gracie is just preparing me for what comes next. I’ve always been one of those people- the kind that run away when kids start screaming at the grocery store, the kind that are trying to maintain composure when a kid starts wailing at Wal-Mart/Target/the movie theater. SOMETIMES, it’s user-error and the parents don’t know how to set limits and it’s just a bratty kid. But, and I need to get better about being compassionate about this, I don’t always know the whole story.
The more I hear and learn about adoptive/foster kids, the more I realize that we’re going to have some rough times…in public. Not all of this trauma will wait patiently until we’re in the safety of our house. Some of it will inevitably work its way into the public arena and I’m starting to prepare myself for that.
This is where I need to put my money where my mouth is and start extending grace to those that are having (ahem) issues with their kids in public because I might need it myself.
Because someday, that might be me sitting on the floor in the cereal aisle at the grocery store, holding my inconsolable 10-year-old like a baby, because some smell at the entrance to the store triggered memories of her birth mom and when I said “No” to the Coco Puffs, she couldn’t hold the sadness and anxiety in any longer.
That could be me.
And I’m okay with it.
(Read more about this half-marathon and how you can support us.)