Turning the other cheek (HLD 290)

7 Jan 2021

As we walked past the activist dog on our morning walk this morning, my dog gave me yet another life lesson about turning the other cheek.

Firstly, if you didn’t grow up in a churchy family, you may not understand the reference. Feel free to look it up yourself, but it basically refers to nonresistance, a non violent response to someone inflicting injury on you. “If someone slaps you on the cheek, turn and offer the other cheek”.

So. My dog, the theologian.

This dog, in the course of an average morning walk around the block, will stop and sniff at something every five metres at the most. She will stop and greet every human or canine we cross paths with. She reacts when she hears something unusual (this morning we came to an abrupt halt when a lady in her own garden turned on a hose to water plants, and another occasion had her leaping about in a startled manner when a gentleman opened his garage door). She stops and says hello (I’m assuming) to every dog we meet, and if there’s a dog who wants to bark a greeting or a warning, she will respond in kind. She interacts with everything – human, canine, or weed.

If there’s a dog five kilometres away who is barking, my dog feels it is in her remit to respond.

Except for one house we pass.

This house is the home of the activist dog. I know this dog is an activist because it features in multiple photos on posters attached to their front wall, decrying everything from live sheep exports, to buying animals from pet shops, and more.

Obviously this dog is not being exploited in the photography sessions for its humans’ purposes, because that would go against the whole cruelty to animals scenario happening. So it must just be a very world wise and socially aware little dog who consents to being the star of these posters.

It’s a toy poodle cross, for those who are wondering.

And by golly is it an angry little dog. I’m not sure the nature of its complaints whenever we pass its house – whether it’s the leg of lamb we had for dinner the other week, or the fact that my dog is wearing a cute pink harness purchased from a pet shop, or whether it merely wants to get its point across that it has a lot of posters for us to stop and look at and we don’t appear to be stopping.

But it goes off. A lot. Aggressively.

When we first started the block walk nearly four years ago, my dog would usually react in a startled manner and would scuttle past, stopping to pee and sniff at the next available house that didn’t feature an angry dog.

But now, Chewie doesn’t react. She doesn’t flinch. She continues walking at the same pace, even stopping to sniff and pee on the verge of the home of the activist dog – who will be barking ferociously as if we were about to rush out and buy a puppy farm before heading to the docks to help load some poor starved sheep headed for the Middle East.

She just doesn’t bother. She knows we aren’t about to do either of those things, and she also knows that whatever that angry little dog is yelling at her, doesn’t involve her.

She’s not so clued up about the dog on the other side of the road further down the hill, who looked at her sideways. That one deserved her wrath issued verbally.

But not the activist dog.

Wouldn’t it be good if we could all learn to turn the other cheek when people are expressing their opinions in our general direction?

It’s not about us, so let’s move on and pee elsewhere.

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