I have learned that hate is not necessarily opposite to love.
This week rescue dogs Lily and Lulu and I went to a park we seldom visit but like, especially before hurricane Isaias hit and the pier was damaged.
Lily and Lulu enjoyed walking to the end of the pier, sniffing the spots where fishermen had cleaned their fish, sitting on the benches as we walked. But the county parks department has been slow in clearing trees and making repairs so though we can still walk at this park the pier is closed.
I noticed a person sitting at a picnic bench and thought what a nice day it was for a picnic lunch when this person yelled, “You better watch out, I have two pitbulls here!”
I looked around to see whether she felt threatened by someone else. Nope. Just my dogs and me walking. So I called back, “Well, how can I get by then to avoid your dogs?” (pitbulls do not frighten me, in fact this lady scared me more than the dogs, as she continued…)
She stood, pointing to the far perimeter away from her, yelling her dogs were on very long chains. I pointed out this was a public park, which I probably shouldn’t have. She replied (I will clean up her words)…
“I’m so ****ing tired of you ****ing slow people down here. Idiots, can’t figure out *unintelligible*…”
Again, probably against better judgment, I replied, “Maybe you could go someplace you’d be happier.” Again came a very angry response as she reeled in her snarling and snapping dogs and their very long chains.
I was beginning to shake at this point. You never know when someone will snap. And many people have guns. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the Second Amendment. My dad was an avid hunter (for food, not trophy) and collector. My brother and I were taught at an early age about guns and how to use and respect them. I have many friends who have guns for protection. These days this is a good idea. But this woman was becoming unhinged and I was worried so we walked faster over to the pier.
Since we had not been to this park in a long time Lily and Lulu were enthralled with the scents and marsh tracks (the Cape Fear is a tidal river and it was low tide), so I let them wander.
I slipped Lily’s collar off so she could have more freedom and she was so happy. She darted in among the reeds, chased little spider crabs, stopped to explore and smell under and around uprooted trees. The day was quickly warming so I put her leash back on to head back to the car, and we circled around the far side of the park to avoid the angry lady.
I glanced her way as we came parallel to where she sat. She was affectionately stroking her dogs who gazed up at her with complete adoration. So whatever had caused this woman’s defensive anger toward me and loathsome comments, had been mollified somewhat by the love she shared with her dogs. I found myself praying for her. For all I knew she may have lost a job, or a relative, or a friend. I will never know what caused her unjustified anger at me. She did not know the first thing about me. She will likely never know. She won’t know that I tend to be impatient with slow people myself. Or that I am respectful toward other dogs we meet on walks even if the persons with them indicate they are friendly. You never really know how dogs will react to other dogs. My language, though much cleaner than when I was a single parent and juggling 12-too-many balls in the air and way more impatient than even now, can be salted occasionally by words I immediately ask forgiveness for.
So despite her preconceptions of who I am and how I behave, however mistaken, she and I had more in common than she will ever know.