A Lesson From Trixie Noodle
A Short Story
Yesterday Trixie Noodle and I went for an early morning walk. The early morning streets on Cape Cod were quiet and it was overcast and fairly warm for January 2d. As we walked we passed few cars and no people were in sight. Trixie had lots of sniffing to do. After walking for almost a mile on Route 6A we turned off onto a quiet side street, heading back home.
We walked quietly as Trixie continued to sniff.
Suddenly Trixie Noodle picked up her head and began to sniff the air. She clearly sensed something that I did not. She used all of her concentration to stare down the road about 500 feet ahead. I squinted into the distance. You see, I have been trying to train myself to"see like Trixie" for the past few months. Trixie occasionally bolts after rabbits and usually it happens when we least expect it, so it is better for us to be aware and try to see the world as Trixie sees it when we walk so that we aren't injured when Trixie pulls with all of her strength.
Trixie stood stone still and continued to stare straight ahead. I tried to focus my eyes but could see nothing unusual, but eventually the tentative stance of a deer could be seen in the distance. He stood perfectly still on one side of the road and after searching a little longer I could see the shape of a second deer on the other side of the street, also frozen in space.
I continue to stare at Trixie and attempted to get her to move down the street as I knew that the deer eventually would run into the woods, but Trixie would not move and the deer also silently held their ground. Trixie would not respond to my calls, and was rigid with what I believe was fear. For the first time ever I noted that fur on Trixie's spine was standing straight up. She was like a bolt of lightening waiting to shoot. I don't think that Trixie has ever seen a deer, and just like she has probably never seen snow and ice, sensing these creatures and the smell of something clearly foreign to her must have been very unsettling.
Finally, after I was able to tug enough on Trixie's leash to break the spell and I coaxed Trixie Noodle to turn around so that we could retrace our route back to our home. There was no way that Trixie was going to continue on the side road back to our home. Under no circumstances was she ready to meet up with the deer so we returned the way we came.
Trixie saw something that clearly she was unfamiliar with and it probably frightened her. Instead of acting upon impulse and heading mindlessly toward the "danger" she opted to leave the danger behind and to leave it be. She decided that something unknown and potentially dangerous needed to be handled with care. She opted to separate and be
cautious. When Trixie saw a red flag she reacted with some suspicion and deference.
Perhaps I could say the exactly the opposite about Trixie. She could have seen the deer, been frightened and gone forward anyway just to learn that the deer were not a danger to her at all; in fact, the deer were probably as frightened of Trixie as she was of them. The next time she saw a deer perhaps Trixie would not have been frightened at all. Had she been a human, perhaps she would have reacted differently but Trixie only has ancient instincts to follow and she acted contrary to the instinct to hunt.
We have in our midst a danger which was altogether unfamiliar last year and the world is slowly learning more about it. A year ago the Corona Virus was that deer five hundred feet down the road and the danger was just becoming clear. A year ago this country did not react as Trixie did. We were not as cautious, we were not as deferential to this newfound danger as Trixie was to the deer. Perhaps this behavior, along with a thousand other choices, have brought us to where we are today with the novel Corona Virus. What would have happened if our choices were a little more like Trixie's ? Of course we cannot compare a dog's decision to a human's decision, but we can compare outcomes of the different choices we make when we approach a dangerous situation.
Trixie's situation happened just yesterday, but it gave me time to pause and reflect upon actions that we take when we meet a potential enemy coming down the road. We began to hear about the Corona Virus just about a year ago. Hindsight is 20-20, but I can't help but thinking that had some decisions been made more cautiously a year ago, even six months ago, even 4 weeks ago, that we would not be in the situation we are in now.
We can learn a lot from Trixie Noodle.
"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.' --Marie Curie