I’ve been thinking about defences today. Our dog discovered a very foolish hedgehog in the garden this morning. It was the unknown intruder to her, the prickly thing she didn’t understand. She danced menacingly round it, barking. My husband stood in front of the terrified creature, waiting for a chance to grab the dog. Her response was even more hysterical than when she encounters cats. Interestingly, her hackles were not up this time though. Maybe part of her realises that this animal was more frightened of her than she was of it. She got too close once, and got spiked for it. So much barking, but at a safe distance. The thing about our dog is, she’s nervous of most things, and wants nothing as much as her safe bed in her house near her people. She has scared people before, but what they don’t realise is, she’s like the hedgehog – all prickle and bluster.

Thinking about people, I feel the same is true a lot of the time; the bullies were often once the bullied, the hurt pull up their security defences and the weak turn in on themselves. There’s a face I see quite often, and I’m sure you know it too: the eyes are down, the jaw is set, the mouth is tight; nothing shown, nothing offered. Nearly always, the story behind that face is one of pain, and fear of getting hurt again. How can they uncurl and experience life, if the last time they laid themselves bare, they were almost destroyed? The only answer I have to that is patience and love.

We got the dog in and waited. After a while the hedgehog stuck out his head, dug a little escape route and left the garden, hopefully never to return. It took longer for the dog to come down from her fright. She’s asleep now at last. If only she had realised the hedgehog needed space and time.

Are you playing the waiting game with any hedgehogs in your life? Just remember there are prickles and bide your time.

Mrs Tiggywinkle’s in there somewhere.

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