Tempers can run thin on a New York City subway at rush hour. People don’t move into the center of the car; one person wedges himself into the pack just before the door closes; a bag gets jammed in someone’s face.
Sharp words are sometimes exchanged, but the real wonder is that so many people, in such tight quarters, do their best to coexist. They employ various strategies, but one of the most powerful methods of diffusing tension is with a smile.
My sister’s new puppy, Finn, instinctively knows this. He has a wonderful mix of mischievousness, curiosity, and confidence…balanced with a healthy respect for his elders. Last weekend, Finn met Koa and Oliver for the first time. Koa, an alpha dog, repeatedly established her authority. When she growled, Finn sat…his version of a smile. He didn’t give up trying to approach her, but he did it cautiously. When Koa chewed on a stick, Finn inched closer and closer. She didn’t growl, so he carefully took hold of the end and chewed companionably for awhile.
Oliver and Finn are still working on their relationship. Finn tried licking Oliver’s chin…and chewing on his leg…but Oliver finds himself in a new role. Now not quite the lowest in the pecking order, he wasn’t sure what to do. I think that will change quickly, since Finn is full of bonhomie, and Oliver can’t resist having fun.