Monday, February 02, 2004

Semantics and Acts of Dog

She stood there, hackles standing straight up, teeth gleaming in the hallway light, and the low growl rumbled from her throat.

Not that I was worried. Mitzi, the chihuahua who was giving me attitude, weighs all of ten pounds. I just didn't want to kick her down the hall with her owner in the next room; that might be rude.

"Lisa, Mitzi's growling at me, and I think she's getting ready to bite," I said.

"Don't worry. She's not growling at you. She's growling at Mojo." Lisa replied. Mojo being the 120-pound horse-like dog silently trailing me.

Then I started wondering if I sounded needlessly panicked. Did I sound scared that a ten-pound dog was threatening me? I hope not -- I really wasn't (honest!). I've been bit by dogs before. My old dog, Spot, bit me so badly when I was ten that the scar took 12 years to go away. A friend's dog took a chunk of arm from me once too. Come to think of it, a kid at my old babysitter's took a chunk of arm from me as well, and the dog came off better than he did. But that's another tale for another day.

I guess what I'm getting at here is how I came off looking, and how people percieve us for what we say or how we come across. I was concerned because I didn't want to kill my friends' dog, which could have happened had she bit me and I sent her through the wall into the next room. I just wanted to pee; not commit doggie murder.

But after I left for home that night, did Lisa say to her husband, Brian, that I was scared of their rat - err-- dog?

I encounter this situation a lot. I think many people do; you ask a question with one meaning but the person on the receiving end has a completely different interpretation. And last night, as I lay awake (in what's becoming a weekly ritual: Sunday night sleeplessness), I started thinking about this.

And I came to this conclusion: rather than worry about it, next time, I'm just going to boot the dog into next week.

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