The Hand that Feeds...
written by Rev Gary Heard

OK, OK, OK! I have seen all the looks, answered all the questions, and endured all the snide insinuations. So, my dog bit me. Manís best friend actually bit the hand (or - more accurately - the arm) that feeds. Iím not proud, but I have to own at least some of the responsibility. It is a long story, but endure it for a moment:

The painters had been working on the manse, and needed access to the back yard. The only solution was to tie the dog (Ben) up, so I tethered him to the back fence. As I was clearing the evidence of a dogís domain, I heard a simpering, and noticed that Ben was cowering in the corner between kennel and fence, the lead wound around his legs. The dog was grateful as I released his front paw. As I reached to release his hind quarters, my right arm stretching past his face, he let out a low growl and grabbed my arm. What caused his teeth to sink deep into my forearm is open for debate. Whether I flinched, or his 50 kilo frame dropped, I do not know, but I can clearly visualise the large hole I saw in my arm when he let go.

We are often hurt when a stranger or an enemy launches out at us, but what is our reaction when set upon by someone whom we thought loved and trusted us? The wounds of a friend are much deeper because of our vulnerability to them.

We are left with a choice in such circumstances: to withdraw our trust, or to seek ways to test and rebuild it.

It is the nature of relationships that those who are closest to us have the capacity to hurt us most: they know our weak and vulnerable spots Ė we have shared much more with them. We value their opinions. We have come to expect the best from them. But they are human. They have good and bad days, just as we do. They have frailties and failings, just like us. Unfortunately, we cannot have perfect friends - they donít exist. So we are left with a choice: continue in risky relationships with those who may hurt us, or withdraw and live a hermetic lifestyle.

I learnt an important lesson about dogs last week, and about humans: those who feel threatened seek to protect themselves. Though my intentions towards my dog were good, he was intimidated, and sought to grab my arm to stop what I was doing. I learned that it is not solely my intentions which determine the value of an action: the perspective of the person I am seeking to serve also determine their value. And I will have a scar to remind me.

March 30, 2003
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