I joked back and forth with a friend a while back about lightweight, concealable weapons of mass destruction, and weighed their benefits against those of a bear spray aerosol the size of a fire hydrant. I finally decided to simply talk to my neighbors about their dogs the next time they came running out into the street barking and engaging in what I would consider pre-menacing behavior. If that failed, the code enforcement officer of the Sheriff’s Department could issue a citation that would provide stronger motivation for the dogs’ restraint. I knew the dogs were not vicious, but three dogs have a way of packing and surrounding someone until the person trips and falls. Some opportunistic dogs will bite at that point, but I was more concerned, given that I have osteoporosis, about a fracture. We had sent our neighbors a letter, but nothing had changed.
I admit to an uncharitable presumption about people whose dogs run at large. I presume the people to be possibly stupid, possibly hostile, and almost certainly antinomian, with a reckless disregard for the safety both of their dogs and the public. We live on a quiet street very amenable to walking, and many people walk throughout the day. I honestly don’t need the additional aerobic effect of barking, charging dogs urging on my heart rate.
It was a beautiful morning, and as I headed up the road, I could see for many yards ahead that the dogs were out in the street. I have the code enforcement officer’s number in my phone, and I determined either to speak to the neighbors, whom I had not yet met, or the Sheriff.
My heart raced, but I invoked my inner Jedi, and told the dogs to Go Home. I pointed the way. My neighbor came out and stood at the front of his property. He was calling his dogs, and they came when he called. My inner Jedi defaulted to Darth Vader mode. “Honestly,” I said, “I have so had it with your dogs running into the road. If I ever see them out again, I will call code enforcement.” His tone was humble, even a little defeated, with no trace of mockery or hostility. “Good morning to you, too,” he said. Then I noticed his neck brace. It wasn’t the drugstore kind, but the hospital-issue type. The dogs now sat demurely on their front porch, wagging their tails.
“Good morning,” I said. I apologized for my harshness, explained about my anxieties of being surrounded and breaking a bone, and was relieved to hear him refer to his dogs as stupid as he threw occasional handfuls of small gravel at them if they wandered anywhere near the property edge. He explained that he had just returned home and was recovering from an injury he sustained in a war zone. His wife was in the back laying out a fence, and he had made arrangements for a contractor to come soon and fence the property. He was a sincere man, and he was sincerely sorry his dogs had been such a nuisance.
I welcomed him home and we got to chatting, and I learned he broke his neck in Afghanistan; I’m not sure how, but he flies supplies into remote troop areas. He was in Iraq before that. Most interestingly, he’s a huge fan of Nikola Tesla, as is my husband. We shook hands and properly introduced ourselves and assured one another of our commitment to be good neighbors.
I was so grateful for the providence of befriending my neighbor instead of testing bear spray on his dogs. I was so grateful to be able to come home and tell my husband I had met neighbor Mike, and what a good guy he is, and that he likes Nikola Tesla, instead of how well some bear spray product had worked. I praise God for rescuing me from myself, one more time.