“Let Sleeping Dogs Lie”

Everybody knows dogs like to sleep. Our beagle, Buddy, spends most of his day sleeping. Upon closer examination, he isn’t always in a deep sleep. Sometimes Buddy’s eyes are half open. He’s relaxed, but ready to bound out of bed the minute I start cooking. Did you know the amount of sleep a dog needs is relative to their age?

  • Puppies (0-12 months) need to sleep 18-20 hours a day.
  • Adult dogs (1-5 years) need 8-14 hours a day.
  • Senior dogs (5+years) require 18-20 hours a day.

Buddy is almost twelve years old now, so sleeping is the main event in his life. Just like older humans, senior dogs don’t have as much energy and need to catch some extra Z’s to stay healthy.

Buddy’s routine reminds me of the idiom, “let sleeping dogs lie.” Scholars believe the phrase dates back to the 1300’s, specifically to a sentence written by Geoffery Chaucer in Troilus and Criseyde. Here is the phrase in old English:

“It is nought good a slepyng hound to wake.”

Clearly, Chaucer knew that if you wake a sleeping hound, he might become aggressive because he wants to protect himself.

“Let sleeping dogs lie” is also a proverb, since the phrase gives advice for wise living. Experience teaches us it is better to ignore a problem, if trying to solve it can cause a greater problem.

Similar advice is offered in the bible. “Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.” Proverbs 26:17. (NIV) My translation—mind your own business and you will be happier.

Think of the times you decided to ignore a problem instead of trying to fix it. Maybe you decided to ignore a co-worker’s annoying habit of talking too loud on the phone. When you made the choice to ignore your co-worker’s behavior, you helped your department unite as a team and finish a project before deadline.

Ignoring the annoying habits of co-workers, family members, and neighbors can lead to building relationships and fostering community among people. Sometimes “waking the sleeping dog” can escalate conflict, and create enemies. How often have we heard of feuds which continued for so long, that both sides forgot how the conflict began?

Whether to let a sleeping dog lie is a matter of inner debate, especially regarding personal relationships. Each of us needs to consider if sharing our opinion can resolve the issue, or create more conflict. Will it help or hurt? Picture yourself six months from now, what regrets might you have if you do not try to solve the problem? Ask yourself if the person who is annoying you really able to change? And must he or she change for your sake?

There’s value in choosing our battles. The Serenity Prayer speaks to this struggle. Here is the full version, written in the 1930’s by Reinhold Neibuhr. 

“God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world

As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life

And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.
Amen.”

Sleep well tonight, my friends.


Author: debbieburton.blog

Debbie Burton is a children's author and award winning poet. Her books, "Buddy the Beagle on Blueberry Street," "Return to Blueberry Street," and "Truckload of Trouble." (Elk Lake) are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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