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The truly strong can afford to be gentle

cashmereI love dogs. JoAnn's daughter Sherrie says I am “dog-deprived." Since, for various reasons, it's not practical for JoAnn and me to keep a dog, I found my own way around this problem.

I go to the beautiful Benson Park Sculpture Garden here in Loveland, where most days I can be reasonably sure that I will meet up with a friendly dog owner and, hopefully, a friendly dog also.

So it was the other day when I went to the park for a walk. Just as I was getting out of the car, I saw a woman walking nearby with a most remarkable looking animal. It was a large white dog of a kind I hadn't seen before. I noticed, as I jumped smartly out of the car and began walking briskly toward the dog, that the owner had a thick leash wrapped tightly wrapped around her wrist. It seemed a good idea to me.

"Hi," I said. "What kind of dog is that, please?"

The woman stopped, and with a friendly smile -- most dog owners are friendly -- replied, "He's a Great Pyrenee."

"What's his name?"

"Cashmere."

"Is he friendly?"

"Yes, he's very friendly, very gentle," the woman said, as I bent down and patted Cashmere’s head and admired his humongously thick white coat. "In fact I’m training him as a therapy dog. But they are guard dogs primarily – they can be strong and fearless when necessary."

Cashmere accepted my petting, and enjoyed it – a little bit. He kept his poise, in other words. I could see a gentle and calm demeanor expressing through every pore of his being – though I was in no doubt at all that he would be a very formidable force if necessary

Sherrie, who knows about dogs, told me later on the phone that the Great Pyrenee can face a mountain lion. She said two friends keep Great Pyrenees to guard their llamas. And indeed, I read on the Internet, "Against coyotes, foxes, and even wolves the Pyrenean Mountain Dog can overpower multiple opponents and hold even larger numbers at bay. With larger predators such as the mountain lion they have been known to hold their own one-on-one."

Elsewhere on the internet I read: “His general demeanor is one of quiet composure, both patient and tolerant. He is strong willed, independent and somewhat reserved, yet attentive, fearless and loyal."

There is a story of a "Pyr" giving her life to successfully protect "her" child from a bear.

Ultimately, of course, real strength has little to do with size, and everything to do with character -- a gracious, fearless quality of character.

True strength does not need to tell the world how strong it is. It knows it is strong, and so can afford to be gentle.

What a pleasure it was to meet Cashmere and see a remarkable illustration of this ancient truth that is surely very important to our times.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jill Campana October 23, 2009 at 5:31 am

What a lovely blog, Chris. I love dogs, too, and the Great Pyrenees are just so gorgeous. Do you remember Gordon Malin — did you ever have an opportunity to know Gordon? He dropped by our house the other day with his dog, Elsa, who is a Bernese Mountain Dog — HUGE dog. And oh so friendly and fun!!! Glad to know that you are getting your “dog fix” in a such a fabulous fashion! Meeting dogs and their owners…sharing your spirit…Thanks Chris.

Love,

Jill

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Ingrid October 23, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Chris,

We seem to be traveling along similar wavelengths…hence your blog is absolutely timely for my present experience. It brings to mind a biblical passage from the I Corinthians 13 chapter that I had to memorize in order to receive my HS diploma: “Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up…” Love without ego is a thing of beauty and wonder; with ego, it has been a dangerous travesty–I have known both experiences.

Thanks for your down-to-earth example of a powerful truth of life. Blessings, Ingrid

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Carl June 26, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Normally I don’t read post on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to try and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, very nice article.

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Christopher Foster June 29, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Hi Carl, thanks for your kind words and I wish you all the very best.

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