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Perspective: A lesson from Spot

John Seraphine

My husband recently posted a blog on our Heatherhope Farm site describing an important lesson he learned years ago in training one of our eager, but strong-willed sheepherding dogs, Spot.

Aled Owen, a Welshman and international champion of many sheepdog trials, was on our farm giving lessons to several people who wanted to be better handlers of these intelligent and spirited Border Collies.

When it was John’s turn, Spot showed his style and power, but when the sheep started to run, Spot dove into the flock to grab a tail. John’s voice increased in volume. “Lie Down,” “LIE DOWN!”- repeated several times, then a loud growl. Mr. Owen, standing nearby said, “John, you’re just telling him to bite harder.” It was a battle of wills that was bound to fail.

John Seraphine

Applying this lesson in a broader context, John wrote, “It would do us well as a nation to see that the crucial divide today is not between liberal and conservative. It is between those who insist on the battle of wills, and those who admit to the futility of such conflict.”

I believe it is incumbent upon us to find non-competitive ways to talk about the issues that affect us all, not pit our will against others who differ. I believe we humans are capable of listening and controlling our emotional reactivity. This would appeal to our better angels of dialogue, cooperation, creativity. Our nation deserves it. Our Democracy needs it to survive.

Thank you Spot for this lesson!

I’m Connie Seraphine and that is my Perspective.

Connie Seraphine is a Sycamore-area writer and poet.