I had one of those mornings. You know the kind; the kind that remind you of something that should be fundamental, nay Basic. Today’s reminder: “get to the bottom of an issue before doling out blame, punishment or admonition.”
This story actually began last evening with our dog acting incredibly weird. She wouldn’t get relaxed and she kept wanting to go outside and then come right back in. In addition to acting strange, she was walking funny. Given that she is 11 years old, I wondered aloud to my wife “maybe she had a stroke?” She kept the weirdness up for the rest of the evening and finally, when we went to bed, she calmed down and went to sleep on her bed.
This morning, she kept trying to wake me up from a VERY early hour. Whining, whimpering, cold nose on exposed skin, drive-by lickings. Nothing would get her quiet. So, I got up and let her out before feeding her. As usual, she was very quick about her business and was quickly in front of her bowl…hmmm, she must be back to normal.
Then everything was quiet for a bit until I saw that she had done her business on our back deck rather than go to her usual spot. I called the dog with every intention of scolding her. She wouldn’t come (not that this was unusual as she is intuitive about when she was wrong). I followed her around the house trying to get a hold on her collar until I finally had her cornered under my desk. At that point, she did something completely uncharacteristic and started peeing a large lake. On the floor, on the expensive Persian carpet, on herself, everywhere.
Suddenly my desire to scold her became my worse fear…she had indeed had a stroke and now was incontinent. I was truly shaken. Now I didn’t want to scold the dog but get her some help.
I took the dog outside so I could clean up and start to figure out what to do next. While outside, I noticed that one of my kids’ surfboards had fallen over during the storm we had the day before. The surfboard was blocking the path to my dog’s usual place to do her business.
She was not being bad; she was not even having a stroke…she had finally reached her limit…of not being able to go to the bathroom for 36 hours. Everything that had happened from last evening on now made perfect sense. It also made me impressed. I hope that I can hold it for 36 hours when I’m in my late 70’s!
The moral of this story is simple. I quickly jumped to several conclusions – all wrong. Because of these wrong conclusions, I doled out punishment and worried myself sick… What I should have done was taken the time to get to the root of the problem and stand the surfboard back up.