On a walk this morning, Ruby lit out after a squirrel she saw at the foot of an oak tree. She went all out, from the drop, to get that squirrel.
She didn’t get it.
She did not in fact even come close. Squirrels appear to like to torture her and dogs in general. This one hesitated a second, as if to lure her in with the tantalizing possibility that she might catch it, only to scurry easily up the tree out of reach.
“Hah hah,” it squeaked. “Can’t catch me.”
Undismayed, Ruby trotted back to me after her fruitless chase, thinking nothing of it. It occurred to me that humans can learn a lot from dogs on how to handle disappointment and defeat.
Some nights Ruby will be lying in her bed in our family room while we’re watching TV, when all of a sudden she will jump up as if she’s a volunteer firefighter responding to a four-alarm fire in the neighborhood.
But no, it’s nothing so extreme. It’s a squirrel in the backyard.
Rushing to the sliding glass patio door to be let out, in an utter panic, she whimpers, “Lemme out, lemme out. Gotta go! Now!” One of us obediently complies with her request because otherwise she would fling herself bodily against the glass in her fervent desire to set to the chase.
I think you surely have guessed the end of the story. Ruby fails, yet again, to get the squirrel.
She has never caught a squirrel despite giving chase to them oh, five hundred to a thousand times over the years. Nor she has ever caught a bird or one of the neighbor cats that pass through our backyard mainly, I believe, to tease and torture her.
“You can’t catch us,” they meow, “and you never will. Haven’t you learned that yet?”
“You think so,” says Ruby. “I’ll show you!”
Ruby does not appear to ever get discouraged. She is always ready to try. Again. And again. And again. “Someday,” she thinks, “I’m going to get him! I am!”
Does it mean that Ruby is stupid because she seems so willing to forget her past failures and try, try again? To me it shows resiliency, an ability to cast aside past disappointments and move confidently into the future. She never quits. Her heart is filled with hope.
We can all learn a thing or two from dogs.
P.S. Today on our hike she lit out after a jackrabbit she saw on the trail. Didn’t catch him either.