The Bloganuary prompt for today is:
How are you brave?
The simple answer is: I’m not. I’m a coward. I run from everything, both real and imaginary. However, I would love to be brave like my German Shepherd Dog, Incredible Mister Hans.
Hans was huge. He stood almost six feet tall on his hind legs, and weighed as much as a small adult. However, he was so sweet, soft and cuddly that I used to call him the world’s largest lapdog.
Hans’s best friend was my sister’s dog, Marty, a tricolor Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. There was only six months between them, so they grew up together. Marty was clever, fast, and beautiful, and Hans wanted to do everything she did. He’d snuggle up to her as close as possible at nap times, and he was always eager to entice her to play when they went for runs together. While their huge size difference made Marty reluctant to play certain games with Hans (being hit by a paw the size of your head is not fun, even in play), she was just as fond of Hans as he was of her.
Hans got to socialize with my sibling’s dogs on a regular basis. Unfortunately, not all of the family dogs loved Hans as much as Marty. His nemesis was Red, a collie cross, whose bad start in life had left him very nervous for years after he’d been rescued. He was usually sweet and a little shy, getting on with all the other dogs, but Hans brought out the beast in him.
At first, Hans tried everything to make friends with Red. He’d greet him enthusiastically, lick his face, and try to entice him into games. Red didn’t want any of it, so Hans learned to leave Red alone and give him his space. Red didn’t want that either, and he’d often seek Hans out to snarl and snap at him, trying to herd and control his movements. Despite being a larger and more powerful dog, Hans would cower while Red corrected him, trying his best to be pleasing and never reacting with aggression.
One family get together, Hans and Marty were catching up while the other dogs milled around greeting each other. Red approached to say hello, so Hans moved away. Marty got on well with most dogs, including Red, so she stayed to exchange pleasantries.
Now I don’t know what happened on this particular day. Maybe Red was feeling stressed or poorly, or maybe Marty looked at him funny, but he started snarling at her. In a flash, Hans, who had been watching from a distance, stepped forward and put himself between Marty and Red. He stood to his full height, his body tense. He didn’t growl, bare his teeth or flatten his ears, but it was very clear from his posture that he was telling Red to back off.
Red was momentarily taken aback, but then he snarled at Hans, expecting him to cower and move away as usual. Hans just calmly stood his ground. Red looked at him, seeming to notice for the first time how much bigger and heavier Hans was, and after a couple of seconds he walked away.
How Hans handled the confrontation made a huge impression on me. He didn’t act aggressively, he didn’t try to hurt Red or get his own back. He simply said I’m not going to let you bully my friend, and that’s the kind of brave I want to be.