Kicking the Cat

11:03 AM


Famed motivational speaker Zig Ziglar told the powerful story of an executive in a financial institution who, frustrated by the events of his day, takes his frustration out on his sales force, assistants, and secretary. The human fallout resembles one of those competitive domino videos on YouTube.

Each employee is bruised with harsh judgement, then turns around and doles it out in kind to subordinates, and down they all go, flailing and slinging their reactionary behaviors.

The story ends when the angry and hurt little boy of a mistreated employee, having no one else upon whom he can dump his resentment, cruelly kicks his cat.

Not my girl, but looks just like her


Between the ages of 7-17, my nanny, best buddy, body guard and entire posse was embodied in a gently imposing, jasmine-eyed German Shepherd named Heidi.

Proven by tolerating my bossy leadership style for years, the patience of that sweet girl amazes me still. My perception, looking back, classifies her as my dog, but I think that’s just the story I told myself back in the day through the hazy view of my possessive inner brat. She was the family pet, but she and I were close friends.

I didn’t manage relationships very well as a child, making assumptions that my vision for games and activities were to be followed without complaint, possibly a byproduct of being the youngest of four; I didn’t have a lot of control in the sibling pool, and would tend to over-assert myself with peers. When these expectations of control over others in my sphere of relationship didn’t pan out, I wandered the hood with Heidi, my best friend.

Aware of my premature shedding from the girl pack at our home on North Beverly Drive, Heidi knew I needed a close-runner with a gentle fetch. She stuck to me like glue, traveling the alleyways and gently sloping hills of our neighborhood, sometimes even willing to pull me behind her on roller skates. We laid ourselves out on the lawn, looking at rolling clouds, and sometimes, stick-macheted our way through the backyard jungle together, two peas in a pod.

She was the willing companion who listened to my performances and tirades, at times, my only friend when I was too dictatorial for the neighborhood kids who opted instead to pair off with Debby or Lindy, leaving me to play alone. Sometimes, I even threw the ball for her and took her on walks without ulterior motives, but in a world that taught me that I was at the low end of the totem pole, she was my bitch.

Although I may have only held omega status in the Boone girl pack on Beverly Drive, Heidi bore the brunt of my behavior as a self-decreed-alpha where she was concerned. I have a painful memory of yelling at her harshly, even swatting her, unfairly and without cause. I bullied her, ordered her around...a reactionary tendency. Kicking the cat.

It is tough to face this truth about myself, and harder yet to admit it to anyone else.

I wish I could make it up to her, but Heidi passed quietly at my childhood home a year after I started college, so I have chosen a pay-it-forward approach.

My memory of this strong, gentle Shepherd who absorbed my irritability without becoming hostile or unfriendly inspires my desire to be forever kind…to people and to animals, especially dogs, in my circle of influence. This sweet girl-dog, my old romping buddy, reminds me to stop and wonder about my agitation, to question it, and to seek to resolve it before giving it the power to do harm. To anyone or anything.

German Shepherd image courtesy of Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Shepherd

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