Going to the Dogs

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Doesn’t it seem a shame that some people, though they are of at least average intelligence and are comfortably well-off in their lives, enjoying advantages that some may never have the good fortune to experience, aren’t able to appreciate their position, to find noble endeavors in which to busy themselves, perhaps even meriting respect for benevolence which helps ease the lives of others? Here was I, innocently tooling along at 65 MPH (and feeling perfectly well gruntled, I might add) when, WHAM, a two-minute conversation brings me to a screeching halt. Okay, maybe I had already slowed to 40 because of a phone call the day before . . . but still. That truth is often stranger than fiction has been confirmed — you can’t make this stuff up, though I’ll pretend for the sake of handling the situation (and myself) gently that all of this is ‘just’ a story.

Once upon a time, there lived a pack of dogs in the Lovely Woods, woods that appeared peaceful and calm, a sanctuary for those who lived there. There were the Border Collies, a pair who displayed a high-strung need to keep everything in order and a fanatic willingness to try to keep everyone in line; there was the Pit Bull, whose temperament from moment to moment was anyone’s guess, now drooling with charm, now snarling; and there was the Basset Hound, a quiet hanger-on who nevertheless was eager to add to the baying chorus if circumstances seemed to merit. This pack of dogs was seen regularly patrolling the neighborhood, the Border Collies in particular on the lookout for anything that might be amiss or anyone who seemed not to be following the rules – this is after all, what Border Collies do best. And they knew they could always count on the Pit Bull as their staunch ally in nosing out threats and the Basset Hound as a loyal dogsbody when the need for action arose.
Enter yours truly, who wants only to paint the trim on her new home black. The painter is to begin the job by providing me a small painted sample; however, gifted with the first dry stretch of days we’ve had in weeks, he decides to give almost all of the woodwork a first coat of paint. The dog pack responds with a full alert – WOO, WOO, WOOF – hassling the workers at the job site, and registering a complaint with the Architectural Committee (to which we must answer regarding all design details). And so I receive a phone call: “You must submit samples before proceeding with any work. The committee is meeting tonight, so we shall consider the work that has been done so far as your sample, and render our decision about your color choice based on that.”

Tap the brakes, slow to 40 – there’s trouble stirring in the Lovely Woods.

I arrive at the job site the following morning, and the mason shows up for a meeting. We conduct our business, and then, because he is troubled by something that has happened, he shares with me that he had been up on the roof of the Cottage a day or two before when some of the dogs from the pack had approached the property with a group of others, upset about the black paint. The Pit Bull proceeded to detach herself from the group at the curb, and after acknowledging the mason’s presence, began to sniff all around the property and take photos before rejoining the group at the curb. And this is when the vicious barking and growling began: a diatribe against the project that stunned the mason with its vehemence.

Hit the brakes hard, I’m at a complete standstill.

Wow. Just . . . wow. Really?!?

In my world, the words ‘private property’ mean something. I’m a generous person by nature, but even had she wanted to take photos for innocent purposes (maybe she likes a design detail?) permission to be on the property, and especially permission to take photos should have been asked for as a courtesy. To have run loose all over the site without my knowledge, taking photos with malice in her intent, is beyond reproach to my way of thinking. (Perhaps this Pit Bull needs to be on a shorter leash.)

Further, to set forth her opinion loudly and publicly that the project is ill-conceived and bound to lower the property values in the neighborhood – all this when I am not present to defend myself or the project – that’s the kind of display that is frightening to experience (no wonder the mason was upset!). Moreover, her rabid rant was wounding to hear repeated. (Perhaps this Pit Bull is in want of a muzzle.)

Acorn Lodge is the product of my heart and soul, and it has been impossible for me not to take this episode personally. I am angry and hurt — and deeply shaken to find myself made newly aware that the Lovely Woods may not be quite the sanctuary I yearn for. I am generally a very trusting person (probably to a fault), always expecting that people are putting forward their best in the day-to-day. In other words, I’ve never been particularly afraid of dogs. But moving forward I will be wary, very wary, of the dog pack of the Lovely Woods as I try to anticipate the end of the story.

It may be hoped that the oh-so-capable Border Collies might come to donate their considerable energy to the community in some more worthwhile cause than challenging my color choice for the trim on my home; that the pugnacious Pit Bull might receive some training and encouragement to render her better able to respond appropriately (read: sensitively and courteously) to a perceived crisis; that the doleful Basset Hound might come to realize her steady companionship could be better appreciated by other quiet souls, ones with more worthy intentions. Sadly, I’m not sure I should hold my breath waiting for any of them to discover a Happily Ever After.

In the meantime, I will shake myself out; put myself in a good, long Down Dog pose; then begin again to wag my tail as hard as I can (“Fake it till you make it,” right?). There are neighbors whose  appreciation of all that we are bringing to Acorn Lodge is continuous and genuine – these stand ready with welcome and warmth, and with these I shall look forward to sharing the Lovely Woods.

Live and let live.

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