I was walking back from the bank to my office. It was a hot, sunny day; and I was crossing an open field next to a hotel that allowed dog owners to bring their dogs.
While I was crossing the field, I heard a woman’s voice yelling for Bella.
I turned around and saw a cute little dog running around — and away from her owner — just happy to be free. Trailing behind her was her leash along with her tired and irritated owner.
I stood there, quietly, waiting for the dog to notice me. I patted my leg for her to come visit me. She ran as fast as she could and we greeted each other. As I petted her, I picked up her leash, untangled her legs from it, and waited for Bella’s owner to retrieve her.
The woman came over slowly — still irritated. I smiled and handed over the leash. The woman didn’t return the smile, nor did she get close enough or extend her arm out far enough to grab the leash.
I had to lean up and over Bella to reach the owner's hand, who wasn't helping matter. I was definitely feeling her need for more space between us.
At some point, she appeared to have the leash, but just to make sure I asked.
“Are you OK? You have it?”
“You sure you’re OK?”
And with that, she turned around to take Bella back to the hotel.
There was no “Thank you” or any other niceties from her to allow me into her world.
I think back to that encounter and wonder… if I had tried harder to break down her barrier, what would I have found there? I have no idea what her struggles are, but could sharing her frustrations for a moment ease her day? Would simply knowing someone noticed — and wanted to help — have made her feel better?
There’s a fine line between reaching out to people and intruding into their private space — and with strangers, you have no idea where that line falls. Some people are just not comfortable letting others in… let alone, letting strangers in.
I think back and remember how her behavior told me that she wasn’t comfortable with the help I had already given. Reaching even deeper into her space would have pushed her farther away.
But part of me still wishes that I had taken the risk. What if I was wrong and I could have made her feel better — even if for that one moment?
Yeah. Next time, I will take the risk.