While we were in the guesthouse in Ethiopia, I asked the cook to translate for me. "Drink your water," was what I asked her to tell Abi. She poured forth in a stream of Amharic, upon which Abi quickly drank her entire cup of water. I remember feeling satisfaction that the cook had produced such good results, and I asked what she had said.
She turned to me very cheerfully and reported, "I told her if she doesn't drink her water, the dog will bite her!"
Fast forward to coming home.
Our family includes a very sweet, very nice, and very exuberant 80 pound black Labrador. He loves the kids, and LOVES to give them wet, sloppy kisses, no matter how much I try to break him of the habit.
Can you see the drama poised to happen?
The other day, I let Shadow in for a little bit when Abi was up, but mostly I have been having Hubby walk him (Hubby hates dogs), and playing with him in the evenings when the kids are in bed, and feeling really guilty that he is outside alone all day instead of with us, his pack.
And I miss him.
Today I decided to bite the bullet. If Shadow is to be a part of this family, Abi is going to have to face her fear of him and learn that he will not in fact eat her.
With a sincere prayer for strength and patience, I put Abi on the couch, warned the kids that the "Woosha" (dog) was coming "wust" (inside), and opened the back door. Like a joyful, 80 pound tornado, Shadow burst into the house and headed straight to the table to look for bites under it. Abi began to whimper. Like before, I held her and introduced her to the dog with lots of petting and reassuring words.
When I went into the kitchen, the storm broke. She climbed off the couch to follow me into the kitchen. The dog curiously investigated this new human that smelled deliciously of coconut oil, and gave her a big, sloppy kiss.
I didn't think Abi could scream louder than the Bean, but I was wrong.
She absolutely flipped out. Poor kid, she was shaking and screaming. She oozed terror from every pore.
Hmm, this wasn't going well.
At first, I tried comforting her, but I knew she couldn't hide from the dog; she needed to interact with him. She needed to "see" him and discover that he wasn't going to eat her. It would take time.
It did. For almost an hour she screamed at the absolute top of her lungs. It sounded like someone was murdering her slowly using every torture method known to human history, and pouring lemon juice in the wounds at the same time.
The poor, sweet dog cowered, wondering what he could possibly have done wrong.
I continued to force her to pet him and touch him, feeling like the most cruel despot to ever force another human being to face her fears. I wondered if I was doing this right.
I told her in as many words as I could that the dog would NOT eat her. He was a nice dog, a kind dog and he would not hurt her. I told her she was okay.
We tried getting some doggy treats to show her what he DID eat (as opposed to little Ethiopian girls).
I tried to tell her that we did not bring her all the way from Ethiopia just to feed her to the dog. She shrieked.
I expected a knock on the door any time with a curious neighbor wondering who was being racked.
At last, AT LAST, she calmed down.
At last, she touched him.
Then, OH LORD ALMIGHTY, her inner drama queen kicked in. She began following the dog around holding her hand out, enticing him to lick her. When he did, she screamed and kicked him.
Well, that had to stop.
I scolded her and told her to be nice to the dog.
Then she tried grabbing my pants and hiding behind me. That had to stop too.
I went and hid in the bathroom.
Finally, the "Woosha" and the "Set Lidge" (little girl) called a truce and decided to coexist in the same room. She still whines if he gets too close.
Tomorrow, I have no doubt, will be a repeat of the whole dramatic scene.
Woosha, the Sequel.
My prediction: By the time we get to Woosha, part XII, she and Shadow will be best buds.