I took my dogs for a walk after dinner. On our route, we came upon a little girl drawing on her driveway with chalk. I will call this girl Amelia, although I do not know her real name. Amelia was startled when she saw us approaching and jumped to her feet. Watching us, she slowly backed up toward her house. I can imagine that the sight of two large dogs walking towards you is very intimidating when you are on the ground. I moved the dogs away from Amelia’s direction when she asked loudly,

“Are those dogs friendly?”

I stopped and answered her with a smile. “Yes, they are very friendly.”

“Can I pet them?” Amelia was standing at least 20 feet away from us when she asked.

“Of course,” I said. I told the dogs to sit while Amelia slowly approached.

As Amelia walked closer, she stopped every few feet to ask me another question. First, she wanted to know if the dogs were boys or girls. So much for the pink collars, I thought.  Hearing that they were girls, Amelia wanted to know their names. Every time I answered a question, Amelia got closer.

“How old is that one?” she said, already forgetting their names.

“They are both five. They are sisters.”

As soon as I said that, Amelia’s face lit up and she caught her breath. “I am five and so is my brother and we are twins!”

“Then you and the dogs have something in common,” I told her. Apparently, hearing that common bond was enough to give Amelia courage to walk up and pet the dogs. One of the dogs licked her face and she laughed.

After a minute or so, I told Amelia that we needed to go and we said our goodbyes. As I was leaving, Amelia’s brother came out of the house. I heard her tell him about the friendly dogs she just met.

As I continued on our walk, I thought about my encounter with Amelia. She was afraid of the dogs, but didn’t really want to be. Like many of us, Amelia wanted something just outside of her comfort zone.

Her first reaction was fear. When the dogs and I approached, she jumped up and back to the safety zone of her house. But instead of going into the house, Amelia stood there and contemplated her next move.  Amelia wanted to interact with the dogs, but they were twice her size. She was understandably intimidated. Thankfully, her curiosity outweighed her fears.

Amelia looked more at ease as soon as I told the dogs to sit. The two dogs patiently waited while she asked her questions. What Amelia did not know was that the dogs were probably a little intimidated by her. They live with older kids who don’t pull on their tail or ears and whose movements are more predictable.

When Amelia did finally work up the confidence to step outside her comfort zone, you could see the joy in her face. She conquered her fear and reached her goal. Having been there myself, I know that high will cause her to smile for the rest of the day. She learned something that day. Each time you step outside of your comfort zone, it grows bigger.

When I heard Amelia sharing her story with her brother, I had to smile. She told him that she got to pet two big dogs who were five and twins like them. She giggled as she told him how one of the dogs licked her. She left out her fear and hesitation and only focused on the happiness she felt.  If only all accomplishments could be rewarded by a big friendly dog who licks your face!

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