Stress blog

A gentle reminder to avoid snap judgments

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. March 5, 2010

A few days ago, I was finishing an early morning run in the cold predawn of a Minnesota February. As I was cooling down by walking a bit, I was startled by a 100-pound furry creature with piercing blue eyes and a regal presence. It was a Siberian Husky with a snow-white coat and a fancy yellow collar. He was obviously someone's well loved pet. He walked with me for a few minutes.

I noticed a school bus coming toward us, so I told the dog to stay and held my hands in the palms-up position. The dog looked at me in bewilderment and continued to meander into the street. I quickly jumped in front of him, again held up my hands and said "sit." Again, the dog looked at me blankly and continued on his way. I thought to myself that this puppy must've been an obedience school dropout.

Concerned about the dog's safety, I looked at his tag and saw that he lived just a few blocks from my home. I escorted him back to his owners. When I knocked on the front door, a well dressed gentleman answered and warmly greeted the dog — in Spanish! The dog had probably been trained with Spanish commands, which is why he hadn't understood my English ones.

Thinking back on this episode makes me laugh, but it also reminds me not to make judgments about people — or pets — without having all the information. I'd thought the dog had a low IQ, since he couldn't follow even simple commands. Turns out I was the slow one.

We were all taught as children not to judge a book by its cover. How has that lesson been brought home to you recently?

With

Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

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Mar. 05, 2010