January 22, 2018

The Stories That People Bring

Back in 2006 I was attacked by a large pit bull. It hurt, I healed and have not thought much about it since then. I love dogs and have not found myself afraid of them since then in response to this incident.

That was until a couple months ago.

Early one morning I was out for a run. It was still dark out. I passed by someone walking a large dog. I didn't think much of it.

That was until about a block away.

I could not hear much because I had headphones in but the street light cast a shadow that told me a dog was running up from behind me.

And then I felt its muzzle touch my leg.

And then a paw.

I froze. In a moment an incident that happened 11 years ago rushed into my body more than my mind. My stomach ached where I had been bit so many years ago.

Within milliseconds I then realized that this dog was not attacking me. It wanted to play.  I could do nothing but stand there. I heard muffled yelling under the music in my ears and pulled out an earbud. A woman was running up to me saying, "I'm so sorry." I couldn't respond. She grabbed her dog by the leash and started coaxing it the other direction. I stared blankly at her as she apologized. Eventually I said no more than, "Okay." I wanted to scream at her, "Are you out of your mind?! Put that thing on a leash!" I didn't. I turned and started to jog away, trying to stop my hands from shaking.

She was just walking her dog. Her dog just wanted to play. I thought I was being attacked.

If I had screamed at that nice woman she would have had no idea where it came from. She would not have known what happened in my life to make me so angry at her playful dog. If I had screamed at her, it would have been in the absence of reflection on my own story. The dog that attacked me 11 years ago was on a leash. The leash made no difference. So, making it about the leash would have been illogical.

We don't always know the stories that people bring into the circumstances in which we encounter them. Before we judge, or react to, people's actions it's helpful to know their story. And its always wise to reflect on our own before we choose to act.

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