Ed Rands Kelowna, BC, Canada
Every morning when he awoke, two hungry dogs would come to a man’s door seeking food. The man would lay down a bowl of food, then step back to let the dogs eat.
Immediately, one dog would charge the bowl and begin to voraciously devour it. When the other dog attempted to take some food, the first dog would snarl, bite and chase it away before clearing the bowl. All that was left for the second dog was to lick the residue, and sometimes find a morsel which had fallen to the ground.
After eating, the first dog would run around the man’s yard, tear up his garden and flower bed, dig holes in his lawn and cause general destruction wherever it could. Whenever the dog crapped, it always left the steaming pile right in a walking path, or on something the man valued. On a few occasions, the dog had lifted its leg and peed directly on the man’s leg or foot. Several times, the dog had viciously bitten the man, his wife, his children and his friends. The man despised that dog.
Despite all this, the man allowed the dog to stay, and every morning he allowed it to eat.
The second dog, after licking up what little nourishment it could find left, would approach the man, quietly whimper, and lick his hand. The man would hunker down, pet the dog and scratch its ears. “I’m sorry, girl,” he’d say, “I’ve nothing else to give you today. Maybe tomorrow you’ll get more.”
All day long, the hungry second dog would follow the man around devotedly. Whenever the man engaged in an activity, the dog would attempt to help if it could, but there was little it could do because of its weakness and malnutrition. The man loved that second dog.
Despite all this, the man allowed the nasty dog to win, and every morning the caring dog would get skinnier and weaker.
As the good dog would slowly follow the man around, the man would feel sorry for the dog, and helpless to change the situation. With every passing day, the situation gnawed at him more and more, until it kept him up at night.
As he lay awake one night, he finally cried out to whatever power would hear him. “What do I do?”
Within seconds he heard a few words quietly enter his mind. “Feed the right dog.”
This startled and confused the man. He didn’t know what to make of this new idea.
The next morning, as always, he took a bowl of food outside and set it down. Immediately the first dog charged in and began eating, as it always had. The second dog nearly crawled its way to the bowl, receiving only a nip on the neck for its reward.
As the man stood there, he remembered the words he heard last night. “Feed the right dog.”
The whole world seemed to slow down around the man as he took it all in. He looked at the dog he loved, starving to the point it would die before much longer. He looked at the dog he despised, growing fat from its greed and selfishness. He looked around his yard at the destruction and chaos. He looked at his son and the bandage on his arm. Suddenly he knew what he must do.
“ENOUGH!” he yelled and rushed at the eating dog, grabbed it by the scruff of its neck.
He no longer cared how dangerous his action may be or if he received a bite. He no longer cared about what others had taught him about things always somehow working themselves out, or that nice guys never, ever shake things up. He wanted the dog he loved, the dog who loved him, to live and thrive and be his healthy companion, no matter the cost.
The dog immediately tried to bite the man. Fueled by fury and adrenaline, the man increased his grip on the dog before forcefully throwing the animal several feet away.
“Be gone, you miserable cur! You’re no longer welcome here!”
The dog hunkered into an attack posture, ears full back. It snarled menacingly at the man, refusing to surrender. The man roared in response. “Raaaaawww!”
Intimidated by the power of the man’s response, the dog slowly backed away before turning and skulking off some distance.
Turning to his beloved animal, the man's attitude quickly softened, a warm smile spreading across his face. He knelt down beside the bowl of food. This other dog had not approached, both startled by the recent event and conditioned to not approach the bowl with food. “Come, eat. It’s all yours today, and will be all yours from now on.” Slowly the hungry dog approached and hesitantly began to eat.
For days thereafter, both dogs would still come for food. The man would chase off the nasty dog, allowing the good dog to eat its fill. As each day passed, the first dog would be slower to approach, and the second dog learned to eat with greater confidence.
Eventually, the first dog stopped showing up at all. Only the second, loving and loved dog remained. The man was joyful with his now healthy companion. His family felt safer and his friends started visiting again. The energetic dog was able to help the man, and play with him and his children.
And so it remained for the rest of their days.
Your imagination is like feeding those dogs.
You can feed the harmful and destructive thoughts. You can worry, imagine negative outcomes, and assume the intentions of others. Feeding this side of your imagination will lead to destructive outcomes, crappy results and hurt loved ones.
Or, you can stand up, do the right thing even if it’s uncomfortable or might hurt in the short-term, and feed your imagination a positive, objective oriented diet and nourish a much more enjoyable life.