I’ve always wondered if I were threatened bodily harm whether Lily, my dog, would protect me. Oh, I flippantly tell everyone, “No one will bother me with Lily around.” Honestly, who would want to tangle with a 4 year old, 76 pound German Shepherd? But what would she do if someone did bother me? She’s never been trained in protection. Would her natural instincts and loyalty take over?
One idyllic afternoon in the doggie park that question was answered forever. While I read a book in the shade, Lily was whooping it up with her canine friends. None of them paid much attention when a white German Shepherd entered the park or even while the dog and its owners made their way to a bench near mine. As the couple seated themselves, they explained to me their dog, Lexi, had been roughed up during some recent trips to the park, so they temporarily stopped coming. After a brief hiatus, this was their first trip back to get Lexi re-acclimated.
Lily, ever the amicable peacemaking dog, ambled over to check Lexi out. My dog’s temperament must have soothed Lexi’s fears for soon the two of them were running as a pair never venturing more than 30 feet away from her owners and me. Watching Lexi, a white German Shepherd, dart alongside Lily, a black German Shepherd, was captivating as they gracefully danced as a salt-and-pepper team. Weaving in and out, their powerful strides carrying them quickly through the green grass were a perfect picture of canine euphoria.
I’ve been told dogs sense fear. I can now tell you from firsthand experience that is true. After the two German Shepherds were frolicking for a short time, with Lexi feeling a bit more confident, they slowly widened their circles around us. Just enough, unfortunately, to catch the attention of two pit bulls playing at the opposite end of the park. These pit bulls dashed over, separating Lexi from Lily. Extremely frightened, Lexi hotfooted it back to the benches, but for some reason, maybe because I was closest, charged straight towards me, not her owners. Within seconds, a dog fight erupted at my feet.
Sensing I was in dire trouble, Lily hustled over to my side. She promptly placed herself between me and the three other dogs. The pack was winnowed down to two as this action gave Lexi the time needed to retreat over to her owners. But the two pit bulls were not backing off; angrily snarling and with great menace lunging towards Lily. I tried to get the attacking dogs to withdraw, but they grew even more antagonistic.
I was scared for my dog, but Lily showed great courage. I’ve never seen her so agitated, so fiercely protective of me. The only way those pit bulls were going to harm me was over her dead body.
Love is not something you earn, but something you receive. It is a benediction, a blessing that is undeserved. We are protected, healed, uplifted when someone shows us love. We were not meant to walk this road alone. Amid the teeth barring, the vicious growling and the loud barking, my little lady turned into a warrior. Her bravery in the middle of this scuffle, despite my concern for her safety, made me proud.
Doesn’t it bring you great joy when a friend becomes your champion? They reach out to you, hold your hand tightly, form a protective barrier around you and gently whisper to you, “You’ll get through this. You’ll find yourself once again in a better place. You’ll laugh again, sleep well once more, find happiness. It will happen. I promise.” They make a sacred space of your grief and mess.
Fortunately, the owner of the pit bulls finally came over and got them to back away. Once they left, Lily, sat down quietly at my feet, still protecting me even though the danger had subsided.
When you sense a crisis, loneliness or pain overtaking the life of someone you care deeply about, take a lesson from Lily’s action during this incident in the doggie park. Bathe them with goodness from God: comfort, protection and the firsthand knowledge that peace will follow seasons of turbulence.