I knew that the Los Gatos Creek Trail dog park had become Bizz' favorite when he brought me his leash to walk him and when we went outside he stubbornly sat at the car waiting for me to open the door so we could drive there. I think he likes it because he gets to play with dogs his size and not the bigger bullying dogs. I can't tell you how much big dogs like to jump on him. He's only 14 lbs so having a 50 lbs dog jump on you cannot be pleasant. In fact what I noticed is that much like in the rest of life there were dog bullies lurking about - dogs that liked to jump on little dogs who are just doing the meet and sniff, dogs that like to bark and lunge at the tinier dogs through the fence. All very interesting.
The idea of bullying is another one of those themes that I've been noticing a lot in recent weeks. The young women who've been bullied after being sexually assaulted, and have committed suicide - one in the town right next to where I live. And the bullying in schools, offices and the ultimate bullies - people who hurt unsuspecting innocents who are just trying to run in a marathon.
I just don't understand bullying. I believe in live and let live for everyone's beliefs - as long as you don't try to impose your beliefs on me and you don't hurt anyone then we're fine.
I remember my first encounter with a real bully. He was a kid that sat next to me in homeroom in the 7th grade. I won't say his last name but his first name was Alfonso. I am still convinced his dad was connected with the mob - a made man so to speak - so no last names. And every day after I took my seat he would punch me full force in my right arm. And I took it. My mom had always told me that because I was taller and stronger than most kids my age hitting someone was not permitted. And of course there was the code - you don't rat to the teacher. I put up with this for weeks until one night I was undressing and my mom saw how spectacularly bruised my shoulder was. I explained what was going on and she wanted to call the teacher. I begged her not to and she told me I had to defend myself. So the next day when Alfonso pulled back his arm to punch me I leaned in and told him my mom had given me permission to beat the bleep out of him so if he hit me again that was what would happen. He backed down immediately.
I have encountered other bullies along my life's path - people who had a different form of strength in terms of power over me, my job, my career - and I've seen how much damage people like that can do. They make you feel powerless and helpless. However, what I have learned is that bullies only have power when you let them. You don't have to stay silent and passive. You can take action and get away from them and you can speak up and make your voice heard. And most of all you don't have to let them take up residence inside your head.
So while what happens in dog park stays in dog park - you don't have to stay there yourself.