Both Sides/ Sarah and Storm, a Special Encounter

  • Diario de Xalapa
  • en Cultura

Por Remedios Aguirre Sullivan


On a happy summer day a few years back, our little neighbor Sarah came from across the street to explore our garage sale. She also met our female pit bull, Storm. It was an encounter worth writing about.

Sarah wandered into our garage sale and, once she was done examining the items we had for sale, told her mother she wanted to come inside the house. I extended her an invitation to see my husband’s fish tanks. Her mom accepted and Sarah and I went inside. She glanced at the fish in awe and asked about what they ate.

Storm, our blue nose Pitbull, was outside in the backyard. It was my intention to leave her there during the visit. Although she was a very gentle dog once you got to know her, she would bark at people she wasn’t familiar with and she was also terrified of children.

After Sarah was done looking at the fish, she realized there was a dog on the other side of the sliding glass door, on the patio deck.  I was not too keen on letting her approach the door, because I thought Storm would begin barking at the sight of her and startle her. But Sarah was curious.  From the other side of the glass, Storm was too. They both looked at each other in silence.

Our dog would usually bark loudly at people she didn’t know. Being a Pitbull, she seemed all the more menacing, if the media horror stories of Pitbull’s hurting children popped up into your head. The dog on the other side of the glass door was nothing like that. Sarah squatted down to see Storm face to face. The dog didn’t move, didn’t make a sound, she just stared into Sarah’s eyes.

My little neighbor asked if we could let Storm inside the house. I started opening the door slowly, in case Storm all of a sudden decided to go into “protective mode” and scare her.  Nothing happened. She came inside very slowly, as if trying not to upset the youngster. Sarah reached out to pet her.

Pretty soon, Sarah and Storm were playing together. Sarah found a blanket in the living room and she lay down on the carpet telling Storm, “Come on, it’s time to go to bed.” The dog lay down next to her under the blanket, obediently. After a few minutes, Sarah got up and told Storm, “Get up; it’s time to go to school.” The dog obeyed and followed her around the house as she talked to her and played.

When Sarah’s mother came to pick her up, Storm immediately barked at her as if to protect Sarah. That was her usual behavior towards a stranger approaching our home. So why did her behavior around Sarah change so much? Did our dog sense there was something special about her?  It was almost as if she knew Sarah is a beautiful child with Down syndrome.