I love animals, especially dogs. I’m not sure why; we did not have pets when I was a child. There were enough human mouths to feed without adding anymore. Not all my sisters are like this. Only one is a genuine dog-lovin’ freak. (It’s just true, Jill.)
Quite a few dogs have come through my life. Almost all my dogs have been rescues, usually older dogs. I have had one puppy out of all the menagerie of animals I have raised or trained. So it was quite a surprise when a puppy came into our lives suddenly.
We were not expecting a puppy. It was a snap decision by one member of the household, and the rest of us reacted in various ways to the little black and white bundle of joy. Stony silence, lukewarm acknowledgement and some screaming. I was the lukewarm one, since I’m the one who is home all day, and the one with the dog-training experience. That told me who would be making sure pupster got out when he needed, and that he learned to chew the dog toys and not the workboots, table legs and antique spinning wheel. But I really like dogs, and ended up in that ambivalent response. Nice dog – but do I need this?
Some went from “oh, oh, oh, what a sweet puppy” to “how dare you do this without asking everyone first?” Because we do live in intentional community, something as demanding as a new dog really needs group consent. We did not have that for about five hours. The seniors went into a huddle, and things were said, arguments boiled, tears were shed, and we reached a conclusion. The puppy could stay.
It was a huge learning process, and I’m glad it was over a puppy and not a baby. Puppies are infinitely easier. And the SPCA won’t send the police if you keep a puppy in a crate for a couple of hours while you go to church. The police will come if you try that with a baby.
I think we all learned something about the stresses of our particular interactions. What I learned about myself is that I am demanding respect for what I am, even when that has nothing to do with the issue at hand. I am asserting authority when I don’t hold that authority for that occasion. I look back to yesterday, and sort of laugh at myself, because pomposity is always funny. Something had to be the snowball hitting my tall black opera hat. The others learned other things, and it’s not my place to say what, but even though we were completely disrupted for half the day, we soon settled down and came to a reasonable accommodation.
I think one thing we really learned is that we can get upset, raise our voices, argue and cry and it won’t tear us up. We are, in just a short period of time, finding out that we are stronger than our conflicts. How could that happen but by the grace of God, who gives us true peace?