What to do when someone does something really bad

I had planned for a different topic for today’s post. However, I’m in the midst of a traumatic experience and felt it was important to share it. There will be no pictures, but be forewarned that it is a sad animal tale.

Arriving home this morning after a breakfast meeting, I took Grace outside for a short walk to do her business. We go where we often do, down an unpaved road with a little turnaround. It’s quiet and quick. Normally.

As I walked along and glanced behind me, I noticed that she had lagged behind. Sometimes that’s not too unusual, but today I got all the way to the end, turned around, and she was still not in sight. Finally I got a glimpse of her and she was tracking a scent, her nose firmly to the ground as she darted here and there.

I rejoined her and after a few nudges, I convinced her to follow me on the way back home. Then it happened. I looked to my side, about 100 yards away in the woods, and an adorable wild bunny, white with black spots popped into my view. Grace saw it, too, and she sprinted off in the rabbit’s direction.

I heard a yelp. My heart sank.

Next thing I saw was Grace carrying this bunny to our house. She stopped with her catch and as I’m yelling, “NOOOO!” she picked it up and starting moving it closer to home. The whole experience lasted about two minutes, probably even less, even though it seemed so much longer. I’ve heard that animals know how to kill their prey quickly. As I’m typing, the poor, dead bunny is on our deck, just outside the side door.

I’m devastated. Just the other night I was having a hard time watching the show Frozen Planet on the Discovery channel because of all the violence between and among species in the wild. I know it’s natural, it’s the way animals survive. And as my husband says, “even an [insert whatever animal you want] has to eat.”

I wanted to kill Grace. Well, that’s harsh, I know, and overstated, but I wasn’t happy. And as shaken as I am, I realize that I can’t be angry at her for doing what an animal is supposed to do.

It makes me think deeply about the people in my life who sometimes do things that irritate me to no end. In reality, they are acting on their own instinct. They are doing what they need to do to survive.

I have (nearly) unlimited compassion for Grace. Which makes it easier for me to forgive, easier to try to understand the motive, and realize that the act wasn’t one of malice. That same generosity of spirit isn’t as easy in situations where you don’t have the same kind of relationship, such as a more casual type of association that you typically have in the workforce.

Next time I get provoked by another person, I’d be wise to dig for a deeper understanding of why they did what they did. I still may disagree with the action, but it could lead to greater awareness and compassion for the other person.

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  1. Laurie Bartolo on March 20, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Oh, Robin, I am so sorry. I know how you feel – Daisy has 3 kills under her collar and I have suspicions about several other poor dead animals that I’ve found in our yard. It has broken my heart every time. It is always such a harsh reminder of the natural ways of the animal kingdom. May the little bunny rest in peace.

    • Robin on March 20, 2012 at 12:52 pm

      Thanks, Laurie. I do feel horrible about it. Nature can be harsh, can’t it? Thanks again for your thoughts.

  2. Deb on March 20, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Dear Robin,
    I’m so sorry that you had the upsetting incident with Grace and the bunny. In our civilized lives it’s easy to forget that Nature is not always kind. But it’s also a good reminder for us that people, too, are natural creatures who may behave instinctively, rather than thoughtfully, in situations of heightened emotions. I hope the rest of your day goes better.

    • Robin on March 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      Thank you, Deb. I hadn’t thought about the point you make that especially in times of great emotion, all animals (humans and otherwise) have heightened reactions. How true. Thanks for your words and commenting. I really appreciate it.

  3. Michael Charney on March 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I know exactly how you feel, Robin. Having lived in rural areas for much of my adult life, I’ve often been subject to the same thing. Even now, both of our dogs will chase chipmunks–and sometimes catch one. It’s particularly difficult when it’s one of those “cute” animals–like a rabbit–that falls prey. But, as you note, you can only manage instinct to a point.

  4. Tammy on March 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Robin, I’m so sorry you went through this. As others have commented before me, many of we dog owners have had the experience and it’s just awful if we’re animal lovers and protectors.

    Rod reminded me tonight of the time our Newfoundland mix, Hugo, grabbed a bunch of baby birds from a nest in some shrubs at MacDowell Reservoir. We could hear them chirping in his mouth as we tried frantically to pry his large mouth open before he started to chew. My heart just about stopped.

    I think it says something special about you that even in the midst of your sadness and horror, you could still clearly feel and see your love for Grace.

    • Robin on March 21, 2012 at 7:10 am

      It absolutely helps ease my sorrow to hear these stories, thank you all. Tammy, also thanks for your words about being able to see through it. I think your words make me realize that it opened up my heart to a new level with Grace (overcoming great disappointment with something she did yet knowing I needed to let that go). Thank you.

  5. Happy.Bark.Days on March 22, 2012 at 7:56 am

    As the owner of a small dog, I often worry that bigger dogs might mistake Lil’ Miss Maple for a bunny (although, she does scamper about like one). And, so, I end up playing down her predator instincts and hyping up her prey persona. I couldn’t be more wrong because animals, regardless of their size, have natural instincts. If given the opportunity, I know our munchkin would hunt down a bird, rat, gecko (you name it) without giving it much of a thought. I’m not a big fan of geckos, but I would certainly be disheartened if Maple were to ‘get’ one. Humans are sensitive creatures and your emotions sound as natural as the actions of Grace that day in the woods.

    • Robin on March 22, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      What a thoughtful comment that makes me feel so much better. I’ve gone through that scene over and over in my head this week, thinking of how I wished it had been different. But seeing your words about my emotions and Grace’s action being natural is very comforting. Thank you.

  6. LeeAnn on March 23, 2012 at 5:17 am

    Oh Robin – I am so sorry that you went through this. I am amazed at my reaction when reading this. After worrying about you, I immediately felt compassion for Grace. With my bulldogs, I am constantly aware of their aggressive tendencies towards other animals, so I avoid situations where there are risks. I suspect that they would have similar reactions as Grace. My thoughts are with you and Grace. As an aside, for some reason, I am not getting notices of your posts – I was thinking you were still catching up on things after vacation. I see that I have some catching up to do!

    • Robin on March 23, 2012 at 8:01 am

      Thank you so much, LeeAnn. Part of the reason for my warning in the opening paragraph was with you in mind as I know you don’t like to hear about these types of things (who does???!!!) so I wondered if you had read it and would have completely understood if you hadn’t. I was so bothered by the whole thing and definitely appreciate your thoughts. What a bummer about the emails not getting through. I double-checked the mailing list and you are there and it is not showing as bounced; the only thing I can think of is that your firewall has prevented Constant Contact emails to get through. I wonder if it’s in your SPAM/junk folder? If you continue to have problems with receiving the emails, please let me know as I’d like to troubleshoot it. So glad you let me know. Enjoy your Friday!

      • LeeAnn on March 23, 2012 at 8:44 am

        Hey Robin – I re-registered this morning, and had to choose the updates I wanted – and it didn’t look like I had done that before and “blog” was not chosen. Hopefully all is good now – and I will let you know if not. I figured your warning might be for me, but you presented the story so gently that it didn’t bother me that way – seriously, my concern was for you, and then for Grace. Take care!

        • Robin on March 23, 2012 at 8:46 am

          Thanks for all, LeeAnn. I certainly appreciate the concern; what a good friend to us both you are.

  7. Judi on March 23, 2012 at 9:28 am

    When I moved into my current home we had these tiny little mice that I would occasionally see but I would know were there by the mouse poo in my kitchen drawers. Yuck. After wishing I could convince them to move onto no avail, I got a kitten. Although I never saw mud hey with a mouse, we never saw the mice again either.

    Murphy did turn out to be a hunter and loved to go outside where he would bring us the occasional poor squirrel. I tried not to hold it against him. It was easier to do since we new he was a hunter in his nature.

    When I got married, my husband came with a pampered indoor cat. She disliked Murphy. But over time, she picked up his habits and started to hunt too. Since she is an indoor cat and we no longer have a rodent issue, Shelly catches socks. We never see her do. But she finds a sock, wrestles it down and drops it at the inside of the front door. The she crows and yowls likes warrior.

    It is so easy to forget that our sweet pal still have these primal instincts until we are confronted with the occasional rabbit, squirrel or sock.

    Thankfully my Bassets ares not fast enough to catch anything live. But it makes their day when they find one of Muphy’s cast off squirrel carcasses. Yuck.

    Poor Grace was probably as surprised as you were. Sorry that you had to be there to witness it.

    • Robin on March 24, 2012 at 9:20 am

      Judi, thanks so much for sharing all these examples. It makes me realize how common those animal instincts are! Appreciate you adding to the conversation very much.

  8. Kas on March 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    I know exactly how you feel … Diesel has killed 2 birds (he actually leaped and caught them mid-flight), a squirrel, and 1/2 of a skunk (it scampered off but I am sure it was mortally wounded) and Evee, believe or not, killed my pet hamster. I felt exactly how you felt each and every time – it can be heartbreaking. Those predator instincts are just there, whether or not the dog is wild or domesticated, and they are stronger in some dogs than others (would you ever think Evee would do such a thing??). It’s devastating to us animal lovers, but try to not hold anything against Grace and remember that it’s just innate instinct. Hugs!!

    • Robin on March 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm

      No, I would never think of Evee going after a pet hamster! But as you and others have said, those instincts run deep. It’s funny because I had to hold back my immediate disappointment with Grace — I certainly didn’t scold her or even act mad towards her, but I kept thinking to myself: “How could you do that?” But just like in working with people, we have to understand what motivates them in order to understand their actions. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting, Kas!

  9. Lionel Lloyd on April 30, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Sorry to hear about your exsperience Robin. We are the same way with the conflicted thoughts of our pets acting “natural” and it isn’t easy with the two dogs and eleven cats. I agree with you about people although it can be hard to stay focused on understanding why they do the things they do. Being a business owner has helped me understand more of the human condition.

    • Robin on May 2, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      I would love to be an observer in your sizable animal kingdom! And it sounds like it has really served you well in your business, too.

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