Softly Tread

Posted on March 7, 2012

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“Besides love and sympathy, animals exhibit other qualities connected with the social instincts which in us would be called moral.”
Charles Darwin

A soft mouth is what they call it. When Dolce would bite down a little too hard on my hand, I would let out a yelp and stop playing for a few seconds. He learned. And now even while playing rough he either nudges my hand with his nose or, at most, just touches his teeth to my skin. He learned that anything harder than that isn’t okay with me and might hurt me. He plays rough with dogs, but not with me. And even while playing with dogs, he learns what their boundaries are. If he sees them becoming uncomfortable he gives them their space. If he’s too rough with them, they let him know, and he becomes gentler.

Why do we, people, take so long to learn these lessons? Even when we know what we’ve done to hurt other people, we repeat our actions, those same hurtful deeds. We cause pain again. As if we don’t know any better. Or as if their hurt just doesn’t matter to us. And we’re reasoning, rational beings, aren’t we?