When it matters most
This is a story of real characters, only the names are fictitious. One is a dog (Otis), and the other is a human (Becky). It’s narrative of profound bonding transcending the challenges of ingrained barriers seemingly impossible to conquer.
To help his child with deeply embedded emotional issues, a father was advised to give a gentle canine breed as a therapy animal to help. Enter Otis, at three months of age. Unfortunately, things didn’t go well and the child, likely out of jealousy, was cruel to the puppy. On two occasions, terrible things occurred involving water that elicited Otis’ understandable fear of water. The father rescued Otis both times and ultimately and wisely concluded a therapy animal wasn’t a good fit for his son. Otis was returned to the breeder.
Eventually, Otis and Becky crossed paths and the bond began. They became inseparable and life for Otis couldn’t have been better. Otis’s terror of water persisted and was evident whenever Becky was in the lake where her family spent many summer vacations. He would venture to the edge of the shore, barking, pacing as if to warn of danger only perceptible to him. He was visibly distressed and shivered with fear.
Years later, while walking on a pier, Becky accidentally fell and hit the water face-down, an apparent fainting spell. Otis’ nightmare kicked in once more but something different happened. The sense of urgency wasn’t lost on him as he helplessly looked on from above the pier with his human companion in dire straits. Can we ever know what goes on in a dog’s mind? or anyone else’s for that matter? What can discern, however, our deeds.
Without hesitation or obvious concern for his own safety, Otis leaped forward and swam to Becky, grabbed her by the dress, and dragged her to shore. Otis’ panic whenever near large areas of water remained unconditional throughout the rest of his life. Yet, just once, when it literally mattered as a life-or-death moment, he courageously conquered his most debilitating fright.
What more poignant way to demonstrate our compassion and love toward others than by overcoming what anguishes us the most and acting? What makes us brave and selfless in moments counting most?
We have much to learn about ourselves.