Sheepdogs hold wolves at bay

Published 10:25 am Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Many of you may recall the Looney Tunes cartoon where Ralph Wolf and Sam the Sheepdog spend their day fighting each other.

Ralph Wolf’s job was to get to the sheep and Sam the Sheepdog’s job was to protect the sheep.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, an expert in human aggression, at his seminars and read several of his books on why people have such potential to be violent.

Colonel Grossman explains that in our society there are those who have the potential to be violent and only care for themselves. These people are the wolves.

There is another type of person in our society that also has a potential for violence, but has a love for his community and has a true calling to protect those that surround him.

This is the sheepdog, and he intimidates those who intimidate others. The problem people have with the sheepdog is that he is constantly nipping at the heels of the flock, trying to keep them in line. And just like Sam the Sheepdog, law enforcement officers aren’t perfect.

No one wants to see the sheepdog in their rear view mirror as they’re being pulled over in a construction zone. No one wants the sheepdog telling them their dog is running loose or to turn down the music.

Personally, I believe these smaller social issues can resolve themselves with communities working together. Human nature tells us to be more prepared for a fire than an armed encounter with someone on the street or in our schools. Look around any public building and you will see fire exit signs, extinguishers and sprinkler systems, all required by law, but we cringe to think of an armed policeman in our schools. There has not been a fatal school fire in more than 50 years, but violence in our schools occurs all too often.

Sheepdogs are constantly checking doors, driving slow through neighborhoods, and sometimes asking questions that seem to have no logic. Their ambition is to find the wolf. Some sheepdogs are more aggressive than others and some are more seasoned and patient.

Our job is to separate society from the wolf and give an appearance that all is well and there is no violence. However, the truth is that the wolf is waiting and watching, and as long as there are wolves, there will be sheepdogs.

Capt. Chris George is a commander with the Criminal Investigations Division of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.