The following is based on a true story.
Fred and Carol have two dogs – Slobber and Tulip. Both dogs are quite a handful, especially Slobber. He is huge, clumsy, and often in the way. Tulip is better. She is smaller and easier to manage but can get a little crazy when Slobber is around. The two dogs had belonged to the younger of Fred and Carol’s now adult children and are all that is left in the otherwise empty nest. The couple enjoy the dogs’ company and everyone seems to do alright.
Until… the day Carol goes walking with Slobber and he lunges at another dog. The force knocks Carol over and drags her a couple feet. Gaining control, she dusts herself off and determines to train Slobber to stop lunging. After a few weeks, he seems to do better.
Then… some grandkids come over for a visit and Slobber terrifies everyone by barking ferociously at the youngest grandchild. Fred and Carol immediately take precautions to keep Slobber away from the children.
Tulip doesn’t have the same problem Slobber has in getting along. She typically stays calmly on the floor while grandkids pet and roll all over her. When she’s had enough of them, she goes over to Carol or Fred for protection.
Eventually even Slobber realizes the annoying little people aren’t going away and if he doesn’t want to be stuck alone when they visit, he’d better learn to get along. So, he starts to warm up to them. Soon he is enjoying playing in the yard, fetching sticks and catching apples. Always with appropriate adult supervision, Slobber and the grandchildren seem to have resolved their differences.
Then another set of grandchildren come to visit. Slobber isn’t so sure about them and ends up back in his cage.
As the days and months pass, Fred starts to evaluate the safety of mixing the dogs with the grandkids. While no one has come to harm yet, he begins to worry more and more that something could happen to one of the children. In addition, in the back of his mind, he starts realizing that, as an older fellow, he might not be able to control these energetic dogs.
Carol, on the other hand, has started to really enjoy having the dogs around. While definitely a handful, Slobber is a lot of fun to play with. He and Tulip help her forget about her empty house.
Fred brings up the idea to Carol one evening that maybe it would be better to put the dogs to sleep for the safety of the children. Immediately Carol disagrees and the conversation doesn’t go very far. A few days later, Fred brings it up again but Carol can’t see the need for something so drastic.
Fred continues to worry and starts noticing more and more traits in Slobber that concern him. Unpredictable, emotional, and easily riled, Slobber scares Fred. He doubts he would be able to successfully foresee and prevent harm. After a lot of thought, Fred decides, for the sake of the children, he will put the dogs to sleep.
When the fateful morning arrives, Fred warns Carol again of his plans to which Carol strongly disagrees. Determined, Fred takes the dogs to the vet and, with heavy heart, puts his fears to rest.
When Carol receives confirmation of what Fred has done, she is devastated.
Confused by her reaction, Fred explains that he has done what needed to be done. He is protecting his family and making sure that no harm comes to the children. Every time he would see the grandchildren near Slobber he’d imagine the worst. It was becoming too much for him.
Carol takes a turn explaining that she didn’t get a chance to help the dogs learn how to manage themselves better. She says her objections should have been enough for Fred to wait and not act right away.
Fred is exasperated. His main complaint about the whole thing is that every time they talked about the issue, he felt he was talking to a wall. No matter which concern he brought up, Carol would brush it away. Each conversation seemed to get nowhere. He continued to worry. He realized he had to act swiftly and firmly before something terrible happened to the children.
Carol doesn’t feel the same. To her, Fred’s concerns, while important, could be resolved with education and time. Research, ideas, and more information could help the two of them come up with a good plan to keep the children safe without eliminating the dogs.
Can we sometimes relate to Fred? A serious problem needs to be solved and we can’t seem to get the other side to see things from our point of view. No matter how many facts, feelings, and information we share, the other side just can’t seem to understand. It starts to feel like the other side doesn’t want to understand.
Can we sometimes relate to Carol? Even though we know an issue is important, we don’t agree with the level of urgency other people are placing on it and we would like more time to figure out a better solution. Every conversation seems less about problem solving and more about convincing us of something we don’t agree with.
And for a little extra stretch….
Can we sometimes relate to Slobber? We’re maybe a little clumsy, messing up, and causing people to worry about the impact we might have on society. Do we feel like people see us as the problem that needs to be eliminated?
Can we sometimes relate to Tulip? Although a relatively innocent bystander, our fate is wrapped up in the fate of poor Slobber.