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My dog’s no hater. But she sounds like it when a rush of don’t-mess-with-my-person erupts from her throat in a storm of barks and growls. At the dog three houses down, at the bear-sounding creature firmly hemmed in by a wall of brick one block over. But it’s not hate—it’s purpose.

At the pound, her floppy lips and happy, bouncy spirit won us over. She’s ours. Where can we sign? We brought her home and had one, small pocket of time with dog-licking peace and then…three days later, she put herself between Chloe and an aggressive dog, forever branding herself as The Shield.

That dog looked at my girl funny. Grrrrr….
That UPS truck doesn’t smell right. Grrrrr…RoWr!
Prime rib on four feet, coming my way. Kill!
Forest fire at night? Earthquake only she can smell? She’s got us covered.

But taking her outside the boundaries of our home where she threatens every furball on legs (or with wings. Or wheels) is difficult. Some days, miserable.

Do I throw away the harness to make my life easier? Never! Walks are like Navy Seal fitness sessions. My triceps thank me; my pants barely fit over my strengthened calves. The challenge of exercising a dog-with-a-purpose has reminded me that resilience is an acquired habit. One must face the challenge.

Of course, some walkers give us “the look” when we come bounding down the street. They might turn and go the other way (it’s okay…I understand), or give us the invisible finger, nose in the air, and stop from rounding the corner as they planned, knowing I’ll have a struggle on my hands (I suspect they’re the HOA types who decide we need permission to PAINT OUR OWN HOUSES). Oh, dog-walking elite, you know nothing of my determination.

The Shield reacts to this behavior with a smiting of fury, no doubt, but the only thing that changes her attitude are the people and dogs who insist on peace.

The man with giant headphones, I don’t know his name, but he looks like a Fred—Bella has lunged at him, and given him the warning bark, but he just walks like Jesus if you know what I mean. For miles, he has graced our sidewalks with forgiveness. No avoidance, no dirty looks, just a polite wave, and on he goes. He even recognizes us in the car now, and will wave like we’re friends. Fred is awesome.

Bella has ceased barking/growling/lunging at him.

And the beagle, I don’t know his name either, but he also looks like a Fred. I’m pretty sure he’s deaf and old, because when confronted by Bella once, he ignored her. He didn’t run, return barks or threaten her in any way. He just sniffed his way down the street knowing something the rest of us didn’t.

Bella ran out of steam and decided he wasn’t a steak after all.

You’d think more of us humans would learn from the Freds. Do you have a Fred in your life? Give that friend a hug!

Thank you to all peace-loving folks, and have a happy Tuesday.

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