I don’t post many pictures of my female ACD, Neena. She’s not overly fond of having a camera pointed in her direction and I try to respect that. When I first got Neena she was very bothered by anything that made a clicking or beeping sound. Grill Lighters or starters, training clickers, camera shutters …. they all frightened her to the point where she’d slink off and try to make herself small. Gradually, Nina has learned to tolerate sounds she doesn’t like, but she still gets a pained expression on her face when a camera hones in on her. So I have fewer pictures of Neena in general, which is sad because she’s a pretty girl and a fine example of her breed.
Sometimes it can be a challenge to treat certain animals or humans with dignity and respect, especially when our interests and desires conflict. We try to teach our companion pets to obey and respond favorably to our wishes, but this must be taught in a way that inspires their confidence and trust in our leadership. If we are always patient and fair we can usually earn our pet’s respect and they will respond with willing compliance. Unfortunately, our human interactions are not always that straightforward.
Yesterday as I lay waiting to undergo more eye surgery I had plenty of opportunity to watch humans interact. The inner-sanctum of an outpatient surgical facility is not the most pleasant place to be, especially when you’re a patient yourself, but it just so happened that they were running behind and that provided plenty of uninterrupted time to people-watch. I quickly noticed that the staff had mastered the art of treating patients with dignity. I watched how they were able to get people (who were probably not feeling their best) to cooperate with them, which often meant having to do things to them that were probably perceived by the patient as unpleasant. Unlike a pet-owner relationship where the pet learns to trust the human through repetitive interaction, these patients had no reason to trust the staff. But while they’d never met before, through kind and gentle guidance the staff gained each patient’s trust. By treating each patient with dignity, the staff was able to walk their patient through a process that was unfamiliar and even frightening to some. Each staff member used a slightly different tactic based on their own personal strengths and the needs of their patient. It was truly an interesting thing to watch. Some staff members related to their patients with a familiarity usually reserved for family or close friends, while others used humor or gentle professionalism as their guide. Some used both, based, I presume, on their perception of each individual patient.
I came away from this experience wondering what it would be like if, regardless of our circumstances we could all try to treat each other with dignity and respect? I wondered how it might change me if I tried, and how that might change my world?