Several years ago, I was invited to speak at a conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I took my son Peter, who was five at the time, with me and was looking forward to spending three or four days with him.
We drove my truck from Salt Lake City and arrived early so we could camp together before the conference. Peter wanted to camp the entire time, but I explained that since I had been hired to speak twice, I needed to stay in the hotel and participate in the conference once it started. He was ok with this.
I was an avid jogger, so Peter and I went to a local high school track for my morning run. Peter started playing on the field and I could watch him as I ran my usual 3-4 miles.
A couple of miles into my run, I noticed a pack of 5 or 6 German shepherds playing on the south end of the track. I realized there were no people near the dogs and that made me a little nervous. I decided to keep running any way, but pay close attention to them as I did.
I ran past them and nothing happened. They acted as though they were not interested in me or my run. I ran another three laps and still no problem, but on the fourth lap their interest in me picked up and by the time I passed them they decided that they didn't like me very much. They growled as I ran by, bared their teeth, and then started running towards me. I was nervous and afraid, but more concerned about my young son Peter.
I didn't know what to do other than to offer a silent prayer for my safety and Peter’s safety. The thought came to me that I should stop and turn around and look those dogs in the eyes.
I stopped and turned to face them. I was scared but prepared to do whatever I could to protect my son. I decided that if they came for me, I might be able to get in one good kick. It seemed like I was staring at those dogs for five minutes (but it was probably only five seconds). I stood there looking at them, with them staring back and growling at me. Fortunately, they must have thought that I wasn’t worth the effort, and they turned around and went back to where they were originally playing. I said a quick thank you prayer and ran towards my son, picked him up, gave him a big hug and a kiss, then we went back to the campground.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to protect your children from a pack of dogs, but kids face many kinds of danger in this world. What dangers do your kids face today? How do you decide when and if and how to jump in and protect them?
Happy Failing Forward,
Calvert and Anne
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