Bertie squirms on the floor when he sees me. Tail flailing. Maggie’s looking through the books. I’m on the floor with Bertie before she notices me. He’s the sweetest-natured little dog. Coffee-and-cream. With a lopsided haircut. Maggie insists on cutting it herself. He insists on running off when it’s half done. He and Maggie are inseparable. I don’t think I’ve seen her without him in the past four years. I envy the comfort of their relationship. They know each other inside out. Respect each other utterly. Love one another with devotion, wholly devoid of fear.
The three of us wander onto the patio. Maggie and I chat about plants. The weather. It’s Glastonbury weekend. It rained heavens hard this morning. Naturally. A new British tradition. Bertie hares off across the lawn. He jumps and dances by the corner of the fence. Barking his head off. I watch the performance. Maggie moves the potted geraniums. A small, blonde head topped by a green baseball cap pops up over the fence. Grins. Vanishes. Bertie’s going crazy.
“What’s up with you?”
Maggie straightens up. Satisfied with the geraniums at last. She brushes the soil off her hands. The face reappears. For a split second.
“Come, Bertie. We’re going in now.”
He’s torn momentarily. A game of peek-a-boo. The love of his life. The treat box clinches it. One last furious bout of yapping and he’s at Maggie’s feet.
“He’s such a frightened little dog,” she says.
Bertie dances for his treat. No-one’s ever looked less scared to me. She tells me people have set bigger dogs on him. Someone threw a beer bottle at him from the back of a motorbike once. I rub his ears and listen. I’m at a loss to understand why anyone would want to hurt him.
Things might have been so different. If Bertie had been bigger. Had his person not been Maggie. His cavorting in the garden looked like fun. Maggie’s wise. She knew that wasn’t all there was to it. If he’d been three times the size. Hurling himself at the fence. Snarling. That little head would’ve disappeared. Screaming. Quite rightly so. A frightened dog’s a dangerous animal. Especially in the wrong hands. Frightened people like frightened dogs. Fear creates ferocity. Then the dog-person combination is disastrous.
Truth is, fear does horrible things. It tells us lies. It makes us put up barriers. It creates doubt. Distrust. It’s never a good basis for decisions. Unless you’re face-to-face with an escaped tiger. A little caution’s probably a good thing then. Fear makes people dangerous. A lot more dangerous than Bertie’s slavering-Rottweiler of a cousin. A frightened person’s far more scary than a dog. Manipulative. Aggressive. Dishonest. Full of hate. A frightened person won’t just attack the neighbours. If he’s hateful and manipulative enough, he could wipe out six million people. Just because he thinks they’re different.
The other day I saw a dog on Facebook. I’m not going to glorify the picture with a link. Neglected. Half-starved. Beaten. Heartbreaking. The epitome of everything we find outrageous. Rightly so. I was offered the opportunity to click on a link. Make a donation to help stop this kind of cruelty. I’m getting a tad cynical in my old age. I checked the source. It was group called Britain First. I was angry beyond words.
Britain First is a registered political party. It has no connection whatsoever with any charity working for the welfare of animals. It was cynically exploiting our love of animals for purposes of its own. Deliberately diverting money away from charities that might have done some good. Its advertising was manipulative. Aggressive. Dishonest. Full of hate. Sounds familiar? Should do. These people are just plain bloody scared. Scared of anyone who’s different from them. Fear makes them aggressive. And dangerous. Very dangerous. To anyone who values any kind of freedom.
Bertie’s had some pretty bad experiences. So has Maggie. Her story’s maybe for another day. They give me hope. They’re one small piece of evidence. We don’t have to give in to the bullies. Or bully other people, out of fear. It’s possible to live a different way. Because there is no fear in love.
I’m blogging to raise funds for a charity close to my heart. I’ve given up NOT being a writer for 125 days in support of One25’s work with vulnerable women in Bristol. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, you can find out more about what I’m doing by visiting One25’s website at http://www.one25.org.uk/. You can also support them by visiting my fund raising page at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=JeanMutch where you can make a donation and suggest an idea for a short story or a post on the blog. Thank you.