Mom says that you should do something everyday that scares you, so you will get over your fears one at a time. As a cairn terrier there is not much that gets my heart all aflutter except gunshots and thunder, which scare the living bejesus out of me.
My brother Seamus, on the other hand, is a fear factory. However, I have to admit that he has met his fear challenges admirably and inspired me to relate this story of our recent walk in the woods with our friend Bailey; who, although large and handsome, is the biggest scardy cat we have ever known.
It was a beautiful day. Mom and her friend took us to the woods for a run around the lake. When we got there we could see there was a canoe with a man and two small children on the water. Mom’s friend was talking real loud, reading some texts from someone called the “love guru”, and every now and then mom would ask her to talk softly or at least not curse so much….sound really does travel across water, you know.
Now, me and big Bailey are struttin out in front while Seamus was more interested in barking at the people in the canoe. Mom is shushing Shay and then her friend, so I just kept moving along the path pretending I didn’t know anyone behind me.
It was getting pretty hot, so I waded into the water for a cool dip, when suddenly there was a big splash and shout from across the lake.
The canoe had flipped over and the children had disappeared. Seamus started running along the shore while I followed mom at a full out run, which for her is pretty impressive.
We could see that the kids had popped up to the surface with their life jackets intact and the man was trying to get the canoe to flip back over, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen; and meanwhile, Seamus was heading out into the water to rescue the little girl swimming towards the shore.
You have to understand that Seamus does not swim; does not like to swim, will not and cannot swim. In fact he is afraid of deep water and yet he had put his fear aside to swim out to the young girl. What could he have been thinking?
I stood on the shore watching my little brother as his feet began paddling him out to the rescue. I was stunned into stillness.
When he saw the girl stand up on terra firma Seamus swam back and left the water to move around the lake to help the man with his canoe.
That was a mistake. Not much a Shih Tzu can do in the muck of the lake bottom and he soon abandoned any hope of helping to lift the canoe onto the shore.
Finally, the canoe got tipped and emptied, but there was still the little boy holding on for dear life to a red inner tube out in the middle of the lake. So Seamus approached the boy’s father to go along for the final rescue.
But no one was listening to a little doggie, and off the father went, paddling fast to pick up his son floating along on a fine spring day.
Seamus was a muddy mess. Bailey was nowhere to be found because he was too scared to go near strangers, and mom was pacing the shoreline making sure that everyone was safe.
I asked Seamus later what made him forget his fear and swim out into the water. He said that holding on was nothing compared with what would happen if he did not let go of his fear. It no longer made any sense to be limited by something that was all in his mind; and hadn’t he just proved to himself that he could swim when called upon to do so?
“Maybe next time I’ll just swim across the lake for practice,” he said.
Although we both knew he was full of the bluster of the moment, I wouldn’t put it past the little guy to try.