There were two events this past week that inspired the topic for this blog posting – the protective instinct – another more reflective topic for a change.
The first was seeing the acclaimed movie The Blind Side, in which Sandra Bullock’s character is perceptive enough to pick up on Big Mike’s one positive “score” in his school records – i.e. protective instinct. I think the typical viewer probably wouldn’t have really picked up on the significance of this, but mom Sandra Bullock sure did – especially when it came to playing football, and in particular the key position he played. I thought it was brilliant how she drew on that insight to “coach” Big Mike to effectively play his position by drawing on his protective instinct. It was his protective instinct that made him excel in his position on the football team. That in itself was pretty powerful, but then I had a second encounter with this protective instinct just a few days later, this time with an animal.
I was helping a fellow pedestrian who had fallen on her walk to work. She was a perfect stranger to me, but I ended up with her in her home as we waited for an ambulance to arrive. We were alone in the home – except for her pet dog. At first everything was fine – at least it appeared to be on the surface, but that protective instinct was looming below the surface…this time with man’s best friend, her pet dog.
In hindsight I suspect the dog’s protective instinct started to come to the surface as more strangers came into the house. The arrival of the first ambulance attendant seemed to be fine, but add the second one and then that’s when things started to escalate. She had clearly been through this before and immediately asked to have the dog put away. I thought it was a bit odd, but then I understood. They didn’t want a protective dog to go nuts on them and attack them. They were strangers. They wore uniforms. They were in the owner’s house. And she – the owner – was clearly upset, in pain, and being vocal about it. As far as the dog was concerned, we/they were the problem, and were causing her owner harm. The dog was coming to the rescue, with her protective instinct kicking in.
While the owner had assured the ambulance attendants the dog was harmless, they knew better, explaining what was probably going through the dog’s mind, and how the dog may react. Boy was she wrong, and they were bang-on. None of the three of us could get the dog out of the room, and instead the dog started to get very agitated, circling her owner and barking at us. At that point I was dismissed to leave the attendants to do their thing – the second attendant had a dog biscuit to lure the dog away, and seemed to be in control. Needless to say, I was surprised when minutes later, as I was outside putting my iPod ear buds back into my ears before carrying onto work, I looked up and saw the two ambulance attendants rushing out of the house – without the woman who was injured – slamming the door behind them. The dog had charged them, and they couldn’t get near the woman to help her for fear of being attacked – and if they were animal lovers, for fear of further traumatizing the dog.
On one level I couldn’t believe what had just happened, but then again it started to make sense when I thought about that protective instinct – in humans and animals. It’s no wonder they call a dog “man’s best friend”!
As I walked to work, I thought about this a little bit more and realized that I’d also witnessed my own protective instinct at play in helping this woman. I guess this protective instinct is pretty powerful because this was a total stranger – not a friend, or a child, or a family member. I guess I also learned something about myself in all of this…it is said that you never stop learning! It’s also nice to stop and reflect on some of the “deeper” things in life from time to time. This week it was my time!
Have you seen the power of the protective instinct at play?