master or be mastered
I had the experience this past weekend of being with a puppy who was constantly nipping, to the point of drawing blood. It reminded me of my previous experience with a neurotic (adult) dog who, one year after his rescue and devoted maternal care from me, nipped frequently and ultimately almost bit off my nose.
Two plastic surgeries and one dog later, I have often wondered why I never made a good dog mommy. I realized over the weekend it was for the same reason that some people, especially women, get abused.
We are unable to assert ourselves OVER another living being. We coddle and resonate, nurture and coo. We do not dominate. So we get dominated. (That logic still does not make sense to me but that is because I live in a non-hierarchical world).
What was happening with this puppy was that she (it was indeed a she) was trying to figure out the pecking order. She tried nipping at all us of (in this case, four women) but it was the worst with the smallest member of the family.
We were all discouraged. We were fighting her off, squealing as she sunk her sharp little teeth into our calves, trying to flee or push her away, sometimes being backed into a corner tears in our eyes.
Then we tried something. When she'd nip at our hands and fingers we would ball them into a fist. She couldn't get a grip.
Then instead of bending over her and pushing her away, we stood up and froze. She seemed to lose interest.
Last we noticed that if we struck a pose, fist balled, arm rigid, took a step toward her or backed her into corner, she gave up and walked away!
It was by trial and error, but we shifted our horizontal world into a vertical one, and went on the offensive.
We didn't have to fight back or punish. We didn't have to dominate or attack. We just had to NOT back up or back down.
We stopped being on the defensive.