August 25

The Confident Friend

It’s been about 5 weeks since we began fostering Caddy, the 7-year-old Schipapom (Schipperke x Pomeranian mix) on the left. She was very ill with Canine Influenza (CIV) and at one point had to return to the shelter for emergency care. Her prolonged battle with CIV mirrored the struggle PAWS Chicago was having containing this terrible virus. Eventually they were having such a hard time quarantining CIV-infected dogs that they asked if we could foster a second, 10-year-old Piccolo, who had become friends with Caddy. We said sure. Piccolo, who was also CIV+, has a thyroid condition that had caused him to lose a lot of weight when we met him. He seemed frail and nervous getting in the car with us. Meanwhile, Caddy was licking my face and wagging her tail endlessly.

Caddy being the bigger, bossier and younger dog was already familiar with our home and returned knowing exactly where the water bowl was, where the all-important leashes were kept that indicate when a walk is imminent and where treats are often dispensed. Piccolo, observed Caddy’s ease at our house and dispensed with the usual 1-3 day jitters of a first-time foster. Within minutes he was on my lap and making himself at home, emboldened by Caddy’s confidence.

Watching these two has reminded me of the importance of The Confident Friend. We all have friends whose confidence draws us to them. They take command of a room when we’re feeling a little timid. They take on mammoth roles in large corporations and government agencies. Some people marry The Confident Friend. There is no job that’s too big for them. They are fearless. Or at least we think they are.

It occurred to me recently, when I was feeling beaten up over a business deal that had not gone the way I had expected that we all take turns being The Confident Friend and the friend who needs The Confident Friend to assure us, like Piccolo, that everything with be fine. I had been in tears frustrated and discouraged when a woman called to invite us to teach somewhere. She was excited to talk to me and told me all of the things we had done that she admired. As I listened to her talk I thought, “She thinks I’m The Confident Friend but right now I’m in the Piccolo mode.” I so appreciated her enthusiasm but lacked in myself, at the moment, the confidence she had in me.

I thought about how birds in flight take turns leading and hang back to follow when they get tired. I had licked my wounds long enough. It was time to be The Confident Friend and reassure myself that this too would pass.