Life’s a Beach and Then You Die: Why Accepting Others Is So Hard

It was bound to happen sometime, and now it’s official.

Skyla is a murderer.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you know Skyla has a thing for eating bugs. But now her tastes have evolved to include the neighborhood woodland creatures.

Last week, as Skyla and I were heading into our building, a baby squirrel popped out of the bushes and scurried toward us. I was thinking, “Get away, baby squirrel! Can’t you see this is a huge-ass dog!”

I’ve never seen Skyla move so fast. In an instant, she had the squirrel in her mouth and bit down hard twice. She dropped the squirrel, and I struggled to pull her away (she’s 50 pounds of pure muscle).

The squirrel’s leg twitched…it gasped for air…then it stopped moving.

I felt like I had been punched in the gut. My dog had just killed a squirrel on the sidewalk outside our apartment.

When Chris came home, he seemed considerably less phased by the incident than I was. I said he probably had “The Circle of Life” song running through his head. He denied it.

The hardest thing for me was accepting that my precious, innocent, perfect puppy had killed another living being. And a baby at that! Who is this crazy dog and what happened to Skyla?!?

It got me thinking about how I sometimes expect people to act a certain way, do things the way I do them, or like the things that I like.

Why is it so hard to accept others for who they are?

Accepting others for who they are can be difficult for many reasons, most of which have to do with ourselves.

We may think that the other person’s behavior negatively reflects on us. A mom may get fed up with her ill-behaved children because she thinks it makes her look like a bad mother.

It’s true that children often act out because of how they were raised (lack of discipline), but just as often it’s because they’re simply kids, are going through hormonal changes, or don’t have the tools to communicate what they want.

I can tell you from personal experience that horrible parenting won’t necessarily cause horrible children. And vice versa; a child who does bad things doesn’t mean that you are a bad mom.

I worried that people would think I was a bad pet owner (or doggie mama, if you will) because Skyla killed a squirrel. But really, she’s just being a dog.

I started feeling more accepting of her squirrel attack a few days later when we went to the beach. This was the first time she’d been to the beach, and it was beautiful to see the sheer and utter delight on her face as she pranced on the shore.

She’s still my loving puppy who likes to play fetch and sleep on my pillow. She didn’t change who she was; I changed by accepting her.

How to be More Accepting

  • Remember that it’s about you. Think about why you’re having such a hard time accepting someone. What are you feeling? Are you angry at someone with different political leanings? The other person isn’t causing you to feel that anger—YOU are. Your feelings are your own, and you have the power to change how you are feeling.
  • See the good in the differences. As disturbed as I am about Skyla’s taste for squirrel meat, her secret aggressive side does make me feel safer. If a burglar ever broke into the house, I have no doubt that her powerful jaws could easily break every bone in his hand.
  • Acknowledge that they must accept you too. I’m not perfect, and by remembering that other people accept me despite my flaws makes me more apt to accept them.

If Skyla can still love me even though I don’t eat squirrels, I certainly can accept her and all her doggie behavior.

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  1. Tinfoil Tiaras on October 3, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    I dread the day my (now outdoor occasional) cats come home with a mouse, my childhood cats used to kill families of birds but it was always more upsetting when the animals were suffering- my Mum would put them in a basket with a towel so they died in peace 🙁 But like you said, animals are animals (my cats aren’t vegan that’s for sure!) I tend to judge mothers when kids are crying hysterically at grocery stores but shouldn’t assume it’s a parenting fault!

  2. Alexandre L'Eveille on October 2, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Great post and great advice. My dog, Macy is also lightning-fast when she spots a squirrel or bunny, but so far, I've provided enough ballast to keep her from satisfaction. Hard to feel good about those instincts but her alert look of anticipation is hard to beat.

  3. Alexandre L'Eveille on October 2, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Great post and great advice. My dog, Macy is also lightning-fast when she spots a squirrel or bunny, but so far, I've provided enough ballast to keep her from satisfaction. Hard to feel good about those instincts but her alert look of anticipation is hard to beat.

  4. Shybiker on October 1, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    I had the exact same experience with my doggie (Juno). I’m sorry for your discomfort.
    You draw the correct conclusion from this. Skyla was acting on instinct which, in dogs, is strong. Your larger understanding, applying this lesson to other people, is true and super-important. One of the best insights I’ve learned in life is to see and accept others for who they actually are. It has helped me in innumerable ways.

    • Sage Grayson on October 1, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      It WAS really uncomfortable for me. 🙁 I forget that she’s a dog and that’s what dogs do. I guess I just wanted her to be my little baby. She’s teaching me to be less judgmental.

  5. xvavaveganx on October 1, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Aww poor squirrel. I think that you make really great points in this post! You are definitely right in that she’s just being a puppy and that unfortunately sometimes the aggressive side does come out, but it’s just nature. She’s a good, loving pup and you are an amazing, loving mama to her. Your tips for being more accepting will be helpful to me in my life in trying to accept people for who they are and that I am the one that will have to change. Beautiful pics!

    • Sage Grayson on October 1, 2012 at 7:52 pm

      It was so disturbing…probably more so because I’m a vegan. 🙁

      Accepting others is hard, but we can all try to be better versions of ourselves. Some people make it so difficult to like them! I should write another post called “Accept Others….unless they’re assholes.”

  6. Molly on October 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Oh my, I always fear that with Emma. She’s so reactive to small critters and I could see her doing that. You made such a good point, though. It’s who Skyla is (and Emma has killed a frog before- *shudder*).

    I have a hard time accepting certain people, but I am getting better with it. I think managing people at work has helped me with that a lot. I have to be a lot more patient and understanding with the job.

    P.S. Love the family picture at the end of the post. 🙂

    • Sage Grayson on October 1, 2012 at 7:48 pm

      Ew…I can’t imagine what that frog looked like. At least this squirrel was still “in tact”. OK, I’m going to stop talking about it now…

      I’m very opinionated, and I’m working on being more accepting. That’s a good point that accepting others is important in the workplace.

      I love the family picture too. 🙂