We We started out sharing positive experiences that had shaped our attitudes toward winter. But as happens at our Peace House meditations, we veered off on a tangent about animals in our lives.
Lawrence told us about walking past a yard in his sister's neighborhood that was enclosed with a stout metal fence. Every time he walked by that house, a dog would rush the fence, repeatedly slamming its face into the bars hard enough to raise welts.
He learned to ignore the dog, but it never stopped its charges or moderated its furious barking.
His sister had a pit bull she kept in her yard. It was mild mannered and bit mischievous. Occasionally the dog would escape its tether and run off to explore the neighborhood.
One night when the dog slipped its collar, Lawrence volunteered to find it and bring it home. A few blocks away, he spotted it. The dog would stop when he called its name but then would head off again when Lawrence got too close.
They had played that game before. Sometimes the dog would lead him on for a mile before it would agree to be caught.
After a few blocks of this, Lawrence stopped trying to command the dog and dropped down on his hands and knees, making higher pitched puppy talk and wiggling his butt like another dog.
It worked. The dog came to him. He stroked its ears, nuzzled its face with his and offered all kinds of good doggy positive reinforcement, until he was confident the dog would return with him.
Okay, go home, he said.
The dog trotted ahead and then took a turn into the open gate of the house with the metal fence.
This pit bull was not his sister's after all.
I had my face right down with his, Lawrence said. It could have ripped it off or clamped onto me before I had a chance.
The moral of the tale seemed self-evident. Affection and kindness can work wonders where anger and aggression fail.
Lawrence starting thinking differently about a few things in his own life after that.
But the next time he saw the dog, it hurtled into the fence, barking and drooling just like old times.