Make Allowances for Others – Good for the Dog; Good for You

When the vet lifted the restriction on Ginny playing, I sighed with relief. It was hard to keep her from jumping on Honey. And I knew I was expecting a lot from Honey to expect her not to play back when Ginny pulled on her tail or nipped at her ankles.

Luckily, Honey knows how to make allowances for others. So their play sessions are vigorous enough to help Ginny strengthen her injured leg while not overdoing it.

If only we humans could do as well.

Honey the golden retriever makes allowances for the smaller size of her foster sister, Ginny.

Ok, I’ve made myself as small as I can. Now let’s see what you can do, Ginny.

People Forget to Make Allowances

I lurk on a list serve of animal lovers.

Everyone who participates dedicates themselves to giving homeless dogs and cats the best second chance in life. They’re incredibly compassionate people. Except when they’re dealing with each other.

It could be worse. They’re not terribly nasty or hurling curses and death threats at each other. In the online world, this list serve is quite civil.

But it’s obvious that its members don’t make the same allowances for other people that they do for the animals they care for.

I try to imagine the same people who criticize the actions of other list serve members coming upon a dog who had an accident on the floor and chewed up his bed. I don’t think they’d say in a harsh tone, “What were you thinking? Don’t you know you’re not supposed to poop on the floor or chew up your bed? I’m going to talk to someone about this to make sure it never happens again.”

No, I bet they’d make allowances for the dog being in a stressful situation, clean up the mess, and look for solutions that will improve things in the future.

I wonder how much more we could do if we addressed human failings (or what we think are human failings) the same way?

What would change if we humans could make allowances for others as well as Honey does for her injured foster sister?

Honey the golden retrievers makes allowances for a foster puppy.

Just once, I wish one of these little foster pups would make some allowances for me.

Honey Makes Allowances in Play

I have some video footage of Honey and Ginny wrestling. I hope I can get past some technical incompatibilities to show it sometime. It’s adorable.

Ginny usually starts by walking under Honey and staging an attack from below. Honey replies by “booping” Ginny’s shoulder. Then Honey lies down on the ground so she’s the same height as Ginny. She allows Ginny to climb all over her while responding with gentle mouthing.

It looks nothing like when Honey plays with her friend Mr. Handsome—fast chases, daring leaps, and rough wrestling all over the ground.

Honey the golden retriever wrestles with chocolate lab.

I’m making no allowances for you, Mr. Handsome. Bring it on.

Honey makes allowances for Ginny’s smaller size and weakened hind leg. I have no doubt that if they met six months from now, when Ginny has regained all the strength in her back leg, that their play style would be more aggressive. But not crazy-like. Because Ginny will still be a fraction of Honey’s size.

Honey intuitively understands Ginny’s vulnerabilities. And she’ll always make allowances for them.

Honey the golden retriever makes allowances for Bandit the foster dog.

I won’t make allowances for you forever, Bandit. You’re almost as big as I am.

Make Allowances for People’s Vulnerabilities

The animal lovers on the list serve are vulnerable. Why? Because they have tender, compassionate hearts.

The same openness that calls them to volunteer and work with homeless animals makes them vulnerable to bruising by an unkind word, although it’s offered with the best intentions. And even when it’s not laced with swearing and the bad behavior we see elsewhere online.

You know it’s true. What happens with someone criticizes a jerk? The selfish jerk assumes everyone else is in the wrong. But the tender-hearted person always looks inside and wonders if the criticism is right and what they need to be an even better helper in the future.

I never make as many allowances for other people as I do for animals. But I resolve to do better, looking to Honey as my example. After all, if it’s good for the dog, it’s probably good for me too.

Your Turn: Am I right? Do animal lovers make more allowances for critters than we do for people? Or am I just not making enough allowances for them myself? :)





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  1. Well said Pamela. I have been guilty of this myself in the past, but now my goal is to have compassion and educate. No one needs more anger and vitriol put out into the universe.

  2. I think you are 100% correct. Having only been plugged into this online community for roughly a year, I’ve been surprised at the passion I find, but also the criticality that sometimes, well frequently oozes out over certain hot topics (training methods, rescue methods, etc.). We would all be well-served to adopt our dogs live and let live philosophy.

  3. I think people in general need to make allowances for other people. Everyone can be so judgmental, and it wold be better to just pick up the poop and move on.

  4. I think you’re right. We animal advocates are very compassionate, and we’d do anything for a pet in need. But all too often, we think WE’RE right and everyone else is wrong, and we don’t hesitate to say so. I think we’d do well to realize that in many instances, there’s not one singular right way to do something – there are many ways to get a job done, and just because your way is different from mine, that doesn’t mean yours is wrong.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I love your post and everyone’s response so far. I think most of the dog bloggers I follow try to give allowances. It is forums, FB, G+, and other group interaction sites where I see the most negativity and verbal attacks.

    I can’t wait to see that video of Honey and Ginny playing. That photo of them at the top of your post is absolutely adorable!

  6. I know I don’t make enough allowances for people, although I have been trying to be more conscious of it. For example, I used to be very judgmental of other peoples’ dog training methods and the like, but I’ve come to realize, as long as they are not abusing their dogs, there are much more important things to speak out for when it comes to do welfare…

    Although I personally won’t use them on my dogs, a collar correction or ear pinch on a dog that is otherwise loved and cared for is NOTHING compared to how some dogs are treated, ones that are living chained in yards or rarely getting fed, or living in a puppy mill, pumping out puppies….

    Okay, I guess I’m still judgmental – LOL! – but I’m trying to choose my battles more wisely.

  7. Margaret T says:

    When I assessed a dog in a home for people who were giving her up because they could no longer afford their beloved girl–they had lost their house, and life was very tough for them right then, and the dog needed some expensive dental work–I know she had encountered people who had judged her by the way she kept apologizing and assuring me that the dog was good, that wasn’t the reason they were giving her up. I told her I was not there to judge her, that I knew she was trying to do what was best for the dog, and she nearly cried. That woman will look at our rescue in a much more positive way than she would have if I had given her the “I would NEVER give my dog up” attitude. I’m old enough to know that we should never say never.
    And I have never been able to figure out how someone who believes in positive reinforcement can be so negative to human beings and expect anything good to come of it.
    Not that I’m perfect in that respect. To the woman who claimed she knew how to take care of dogs, but hadn’t taken her golden retriever with such bad allergies that he was nearly bald to the vet for three years, who expected her teen-aged son to take the dog out in public for walks, I’d have cheerfully given my thoughts, except I needed to get the dog out of there, and that was more important.

  8. I definitely make more allowances for BJ. Let’s face it, he may be my four legged child, but he’s still a pup.

  9. Great post. I certainly don’t understand why some people do what they do with their pets but then again, I feel like it isn’t any of my business unless they are abusing their pet. We are all different and have different beliefs but that doesn’t make it okay for me to criticize somebody because they do things differently than me! With that being said, I hope you have a happy New Year!

  10. Hmmm…I would be interested to see the video of Honey and Ginny playing. Gretel “boops” Chester on the shoulder (or perhaps the side of the head….I can’t tell) when she wants to play. I have never seen this behavior before so I worry sometimes that she is being a bully…not merely playing.

  11. Very true.