We have a new, furry family member at our house. Her name is Greta, and she came to us last December as a ten-week-old pup who was totally shy and had no inkling of canine etiquette. Greta is a beautiful, standard schnauzer who is true to her breed. She is extraordinarily smart and equally as stubborn. I fondly say that Greta vacillates between angel and imp!
During our near eleven months with this precious pup, we have relied heavily upon our wonderful trainer to teach Greta (and for our trainer to teach us how to teach Greta…) the importance of impulse control. Mastery of impulse control is vital as it trains our pets to show respect to others.
Greta has matured a lot in this regard. She is learning that it is not polite to bark at walkers, joggers, and cyclers. She is learning to “stay” until given permission to leave her assigned place. Greta is working on her impulse control to stay calm when dogs are approaching… especially the ones that are larger than she! At long last she has controlled her impulse to lunge at loud trucks, including those mean-sounding and scary-looking garbage trucks. Yes, impulse control is important for Greta, and its mastery could conceivably save her life.
During the past few months of Covid-19’s new normal, I have spent a lot of time walking Miss Greta. As I have seen her grow in her ability to control her impulses, I have also thought a lot about the need for human beings to do likewise.
Regrettably, we witness daily the ongoing deterioration of basic respect across our nation. Why is it that horn honking and road rage appear to have gotten much worse? And what about name-calling and hate speech? Social media provides great value in so many ways, but it has also opened an easily accessible venue where people have become emboldened to spew mean-spirited, derogatory comments.
Next week, the presidential election will officially take place. Regardless of the ultimate outcome, more than half of Americans will likely be ecstatic, and the remainder will be furious.
As mature adults, there is no more important time than right now for us to think about the importance of our own impulse control, especially as we interact with those who do not share our political views. How easy it would be, either in our joy or in our disappointment, to make statements that may be hurtful to others. Is any good accomplished through such insensitive actions? Absolutely not!
Of course, those supporters whose candidates win their races have every right to celebrate, and that is simply fine. However, what is not acceptable is to express that joy by demeaning the opposing candidates or “rubbing it in” via hurtful diatribes. As for those individuals whose candidates do not win… well, we learn a lot about a person’s character in how he or she shows up when things do not go according to plan. Losing while exhibiting grace speaks volumes.
In the weeks to come, “we the people” must take great care to exercise impulse control. In so doing, we can better show respect to one another. And yes, it is possible for us to “agree to disagree” if civility and love reside at our core.
While Greta is still learning to control her impulses, let us take a little tip from this young pup. If through positive discipline a dog can learn “how” to show respect to others, then so can we human beings!
Just remember that those who look up to us are watching our actions. They will hear what we say, and they will see what we do… especially in the days and weeks to come. Our ability to control our impulses at this time in history can teach valuable lessons for the generations who follow.
America, it is high time that we restore decency, civility, and respect into every aspect of our lives. May we all commit to learn from a puppy by showing a little more respect to one another… starting today!