Every time I run through a particular alley, there’s this little dog that attacks me from a hole in his fence. His head pops through and his vicious round head snaps at me. There’s really no way he can reach me, but logic doesn’t seem to appeal much to the vicious little dog.
I don’t know his name, but he looks like a “Petey.” So, to me, that dog is Petey. He snaps at me and I yell, “Ah, shut up, Petey.” It’s our thing. And since the alley is the last few yards of my daily run, Petey’s barking and my yelling back at him mean that I’ve finished another run.
But, a on a particular day a while back, Petey didn’t bark at me. I could see him on the other side of the fence, but he was quiet. He actually seemed kinda timid. For a minute, I thought maybe he was sick. I felt bad for Petey and said, “Come on, Petey, get better soon.” It was a bit weird to me that Petey didn’t bark; it almost felt like my run wasn’t really complete.
The next day, though, Petey returned to his vicious ways and barked as loud as ever. Since I missed him, I knelt down and barked back at him. We were sharing a moment, Petey and I, and I felt like we were communicating. But, then I noticed a big black dog in the distance. It didn’t bark, but it was watching Petey. Ever since that day, I’ve looked out for the big black dog and I am certain beyond certain that Petey only barks when the big black dog is with him. I have no idea where the big black dog goes; maybe some days he stays inside and perhaps Petey is too hyper to ever be inside. Who knows? What I do know, though, is that Petey’s mean streak comes out when he figures that if he encounters any real trouble, his big black friend will take care of it for him. I lost a lot of respect for Petey, and now, I don’t even yell back at him.
But, Petey is a really good example of the power of having support. It’s good to have a goal and there will be challenges along the way towards the goal, but having something and someone behind a person provides the tools and strength to meet the challenges that arise when striving towards a goal. I’ve always subscribed to the idea that no one is an island who lives in exclusion from other people. We are all connected, in my view, and if we seek solutions to the problems we face, it’s a lot easier to face those problems when we’re sure someone has our back. As a counselor, I know that part of my job is to provide support when a client is unsure of steps he or she is taking towards a healthier life. As a husband and father, I know that I need to support my wife and son and sometimes be a source of strength for them. I also know that my wife is always behind me. She’s my dream-maker and without her, I guess I’m just like Petey: Timid and unsure.
Next time I run through Petey’s alley, I’m going to give Petey my best. I hope his big black friend is with him so that we can bark at each other. I’m always surprised the way life reminds me that we are better when we support others and allow ourselves to be supported, as well. I guess Petey ain’t a coward, after all…