That first joyful, innocent, peaceful greeting.
My Bella is a super protective dog. She is also very intuitive as most dogs are. So if she accepts your attention or even initiates that first move for attention, understand that gift you have received. Yesterday on the mountain a gentleman stopped near the base of the stairs and talked for a moment. He asked if we had met before, not a come on but genuine question. He then introduced himself, I’m so sorry but I forgot your name sir, then in the process of our brief conversation asked if I were born again and knew Jesus. To which I could joyfully respond with an “oh yes!”. He then moved to pet Bella, who had actually moved up closer to where the gentleman whose name I forgot, stood. She accepted his attention and then watched as he headed back up those steps. As he left, a lady who had been coming down stopped and spoke briefly. She was warning me there was a dog top side that though even on a leash, didn’t appear to be on the friendly side. By the time I got up there thankfully it was nowhere to be seen.
On the way down I spoke with a lady who agreed with me that it was a glorious day. We enjoyed a short conversation and moved on in the direction in which we had been heading. I spoke with several others as Bella and I hiked down, each equally friendly.
Last night, walking through Christmas Town, aka McAdenville, North Carolina, USA, I had this amazing time. The lights were back in their full glorious display and the town was busy. Cars were backed up as far as the eye could see with kids pointing, shouting and loving every moment. Almost as if on a timer you could hear the shouts of Merry Christmas! Thanks to the wonderfully warm evening the town was also filled with folks walking and enjoying the company of friends, family and those whom they simply passed.
My son knows me well though..ever so often I would hear him say, “dog” and there coming in our direction would be someone with their fur friend walking with them. And of course I was overjoyed to be able to say hello to person and pup. You could tell those who enjoyed the greeting. They were as friendly as the dogs on the leash, speaking, laughing, loving the moment. During the entire evening, there was only one couple walking with two dogs who you could immediately tell didn’t want to interact.
Dogs are so much fun because their greeting is so honest and so happily glad to meet you friendly.
If I could give a gift to the world, it would be the ability to greet others readily, joyfully, with a level of anticipatory excitement. That every person we see is a potential new best friend to add to all the other best friends that comprise our treasury of friends and family. That the greeting will be free of fear and caution built from the fear. That we could see the person as a new gift.
I will admit here, that I know, not all people have good intentions, there are reasons to be careful. That is a truth which cannot be ignored. As dogs have that intuition, we can as well, we can sense the hidden red flags and protect ourselves. This, is one thing that is admittedly sad. The fact there are so many walking among us, who for what ever reason, will cause harm if given the opportunity. Be it mental health issues. Be it unchecked anger. Be it chemically induced. What ever the myriad amount of reasons, it is there. If I could give that gift of a joyful greeting, I would find the ways to protect the innocent. To rid the world of the threats from others. But I am no Pollyanna and I know the impossibility of such a thing.
When an animal is part of a family and properly socialized, they enjoy those first greetings. That initial contact and pet on the head. Be they dog, cat, ferret, horse even cows or goats. You can see the enjoyment in their eyes and actions. A wild animal is different, they are cautious, afraid, defensive. There are people who are the same. Those who you must approach with patience and caution. Due to things that have happened in their life either recently or at some point in the past. There are instances, where the individual must see how you treat others first. last night there was a couple with two dogs. The first came right up to me, accepting and all but demanding attention. The second was stand offish and didn’t want to be bothered. We came upon this same couple moments later and the second dog immediately came to me wanting the same attention the first dog had gotten before.
I do know, that people are not dogs, cats, goats or any other animal.
I know, that as humans we have a greater ability to think and process life and events. Animals, while it has been proven can think, they are more emotionally reactionary. Show love, they love in return. Cause harm, some go into a self protection mode while others accept the treatment even as it destroys them. People do that too though. Animals because they know no other way. People because for any number of reasons, believe they are trapped, they can’t escape, they are the cause, there is no other way.
If I could offer a gift, I would offer to each and every individual, that first, innocent, joyous greeting. Where you can meet another without worry, without fear, without concern over any possible ulterior motives. That no matter what they have been through, are going through, there can be joy. When for that brief moment in time, especially if the possibility of every meeting again is small, that the meeting would be that gift of excitement and trusting peace. That for a time, there can be a moment of joy.