Can A Tiger Change His Stripes?

This is Sheriff Peanut Butter Brickle. One day, not too many years ago, I was a pup. A good looking pup. That goes without saying, but I said it.

I was taken to a school that taught dogs to do things on command. But even back then, I knew I was a Sheriff. And a Sheriff is a Sheriff. And so? I didn’t listen to “sit”. Or “stay”. Or even “leave it”. And in fact, the one thing I ignored most of all was learning how to be trusted off leash. By myself. And so, one day, and maybe two days, I decided to take off running toward a highway. And one day, maybe two days, I decided to leave the dog park beach at low tide. And one day, but not two days, I decided to run after that deer in Cloverdale, California over those hills and valleys. And after that? Well, the leash never came off.

I was ok with the leash. Deputy Digby and I got to go to dog parks to run and on hikes every single day. But lately, Girl Person and Boy Person haven’t been ok with it. You see, they figured that at 10 years old, which is what I turned last week, that I deserved another chance. It seemed like I could do it. That I wanted to do it. And that I deserved another chance. But it was going to take courage. Not on my part. But on theirs.

So as Girl Person worked up her courage in a safe place, she took off my leash. Slowly. And I pretty much could not believe it. I was free. Yet I didn’t want to run away. I wanted to prove myself. It was in my heart to let my freedom guide me. But yet, what was in my heart was appreciation for the trust. And for the love behind that trust.

Every time Girl Person would panic a bit when it seemed I was walking too fast or too far away, I slowed down. A few times, her courage left her and she would put my leash back on. But just for a moment. And after she could see I wasn’t leaving, she let me off again. It was glorious. Glorious, I tell you.

Was Deputy Digby jealous? He seemed to be just as happy for me as if he was off leash. But we know that’s not happening any time soon. Let’s not get carried away.

I suppose that I could have lived the rest of my days on a leash all the time and have not been sad. Or unfulfilled. But when anyone is given the chance to change and to grow, you realize what you are made of. I’m more than peanut butter cookies. I’m more than “just a dog”. I deserved to safely try to be free. Can a tiger ever change his stripes? We have to think why the stripes are there to begin with.

There is a reason that each of us are the way we are. Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes we hurt others. Sometimes, we regret those mistakes and we think ourselves that maybe it’s impossible to change when others don’t believe we can.

But it’s not up to them. Only we can change our stripes. Only we can do our best. Only we can prove ourselves.

It may take 10 years like me. But change is not impossible. Where are your true colors? What will it take to bring them out?

So try dropping that leash. Only then will you see where you can go.

Sheriff Peanut Butter Brickle

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