Ask anyone who deals with dogs on a regular basis and they will tell you the worst kind of aggression to deal with is fear aggression. A fearful dog has two choices - it can run away or it can attack. Many fearful dogs do choose to try to get away, but if they feel they can't - WATCH OUT! Of course, many dogs that are fearful prescribe to the theory that a good offense is better than defense. And the biggest problem is trying to figure out what will set a fearful dog off. Things that most dogs don't blink at can make a fearful dog react. Their perspective is off.
Kipper and I experienced this today. We were doing our short morning walk, minding our own business when we saw this woman on the porch squeaking a toy and calling loudly for "Lucky." Then another woman joined her - not nearly as pleasant sounding - yelling in a gutteral voice, "Lucky, come here!" If I was Lucky I might not have come either!
Then Lucky came into view. He was about 8 inches tall and probably weighed about 7 lbs soaking wet. He was a cute little thing - tan and white, but the ferocious scowl on his face ruined his good looks. He came running up to Kipper, barking, showing his tiny teeth, with all the hair raised on his back, doing his best to show how tough he was. Kipper just looked at him, wagging his tail slow and easy. Kipper would have been happy to make friends and play with Lucky.
But apparently, Lucky didn't know this. He kept charging at Kipper but when we moved forward, Lucky backed up. I kept going, in the hopes of sort of herding little Lucky back to his hapless owners - who this whole time had not moved but just kept yelling. (since that seemed to be working so well). When we got to these ladies' driveway, Lucky started getting more aggressive. The whole time the woman kept saying, "He won't hurt you or your dog," Lucky aggressively dove toward Kipper's face, snapping and growling. My sweet dog, who fortunately is NOT dog aggressive, tried very hard not to look intimidating - giving all the doggy signals of "I'm harmless." It didnt' work. Finally, after a particularly vicious snap came within a millimeter of Kip's nose, he growled and barked at Lucky. The women gasped. I'm sure she thought this was the end of Lucky's luck!
I decided to keep walking. If they couldn't come over and pick up their dog while I had him corraled on their driveway for at least several minutes, I wasn't going to stand there any longer and let little Lucky bite my dog. I got a branch and waved Lucky away. I had no doubt that if I put my hand close enough to his mouth, he'd bite me. Then Kipper would feel honor bound to protect me and we'd have a real mess on our hands (literally).
So, off we went. Lucky continued to follow us, barking and snapping and growling. I kept waving him off with my branch. He'd run away and then charge back. His owners kept uselessly yelling at him. I could still hear them as I rounded the bend and Lucky finally gave up. Lucky truly was lucky in this case. Kipper is very good with other dogs and is not aggressive, even when provoked. If this had been another big dog, Lucky might lost his head, quite literally.
Little Lucky did what a lot of people do - lash out because of fear when there really is nothing to fear at all. Fear that someone won't like you may cause all kinds of ugly behavior.
I once heard Beth Moore describe fear as False Evidence Appearing Real. People come after others aggressively, sometime even leaving marks emotionally and mentally because they are fearful and react. I wonder how many times when someone has been ugly to me, it is really fear driving their actions? I wonder how many times I've been ugly to others because of fear? If we look in the Bible, we can see numerous examples of people's really poor decisions coming from fear - Abraham, Jacob and Jeroboam come to mind.
I suppose this is why the command "fear not" is mentioned more than any other. You may wonder how in the world can overcome fear or stop reacting to it. The answer is you probably can't on your own. But in Psalms 34:4 it says, "I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears." In our own strength, we can't conquer fear. Heck, sometimes we can't even identify our fears. But God can. He can show us what our fears are and deliver us from them.
I know I don't want to be a Lucky - spending my life on the offensive, snapping and growling at phantom fears that don't really exist. It's comforting to know that I don't have to!
~ Blessings, Bronte