Tara the Chivalrous Watchdog

Last week I came home to an unusual sight. When I opened my garage door, there was a strange man crouched on top of my washing machine, and on the floor in front of it my Rottweiler, Tara, was sitting, looking up at him. I stopped the car and, with my cell phone in hand, got out to find out what was going on.

The man explained that he had come to make a delivery. He said he had stepped through the side door in the garage to leave the parcel inside where it would be out of view from the street. Then, he said, he had turned around to leave and found the dog standing between him and the exit. As he explained all of this I noticed that he was wearing a uniform shirt, I could see a box on the floor, and there was a delivery truck parked on the street, so it all seemed to make sense.

“So, how did you get up there?” I asked.

“Your dog went nuts,” he said. “I jumped up here because I thought it was going to bite me.”

This seemed like an exaggeration, because Tara, despite her appearance, is usually very friendly. She was just sitting quietly, like she was hoping he would throw a ball for her to chase. So, I slipped my hand through her collar and told the deliveryman to come down, but as he started to put his foot down, Tara looked straight at him and gave out a growl that practically rattled the walls. He retracted his leg, and suddenly she was quiet and content again.

“You see?” he said. “That’s what she’s been doing for the last twenty minutes.”

I laughed a little, put Tara out in the back yard and sent the deliveryman on his way. But after he was gone, it occurred to me that Tara had been an example of chivalry – strong and brave, but also gentle and merciful. She sensed something was wrong, and she undoubtedly could have mauled the deliveryman, but instead she showed just enough fierceness to get things under control, then backed off.

That’s how I learned an important lesson about strength and courage from my dog. Does barking and snarling solve anything, or does it just make a tense situation even worse? What I learned was that sometimes the best way to be courageous is to just sit quietly, observe the situation and show that you won’t back down.

Susan Sullivan, Idaho

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