There is a big white dog that is socially awkward at the park. A rescue that comes on strong and forceful. We thought my two chocolate labs could mellow that dog.
Kozak is a fun-loving but deep down stressed dog. He was always that way. His lucky-go-round attitude betrays deep anxieties. Pablo, his brother is more down to Earth. It takes him a little longer to warm up. A little more socially awkward, it takes him longer to warm up. But when he does he plays in the funniest ways. And when he does, this hundred bound dog jumps using his front paws in ways that make you smile.
Those two couldn't be any more different. I jokingly say Kozak is a reincarnated rugby player while Pablo is still questioning this whole dog thingy.
The dog barked angrily at them. He came on so strong and it shocked Kozak. He flattened out like a pancake at my feet. His normal outgoing nature is now skittish. On the other side, Pablo came sitting next to me scoping the situation. The white dog came running full speeds many times next to them. Taunting them, waiting for a reply after a while Pablo barked him off. I had never seen a chocolate lab bark off another dog. It was impressive. I still have shivers running down my back.
But little Kozak never quite recovered. He's shy now. He doesn't play as much with other dogs. He'll only play with Pablo. And he still plays rough, so rough Pablo doesn't want to play with him. His initial reaction with other dogs is open and frank, but he stops, turns around and comes back tome. He used to be so carefree. He's shocked.
It's amazing how much these dogs have taught me. Sometimes I see life through their personalities. I see a lot of their personalities in my wife and me. I also see my brother and me as kids. And then it hit me.
Something really moved me deep down. I couldn't figure out what it was at first. It was my story all over. My world stopped early. Robbed of any ideals that adults are mature and supposed to protect children, I was let down and never picked up again. I was so shaken up after that I never let the child within go into any situation until it was safe. That meant making things safe around me. And that also meant being the center of attention. Anything to not see what's inside. It took me decades to understand this.
There's a kid hurting in all of us. Sometimes it takes decades to resurface. If and when it does, acknowledge the hurt child. Say you understand him and mean it. Tell him you tried your best. Tell him you might not have heard well until now but you do, now. It takes time for confidence to come back. It takes time for trust to come back.