When the tail wags the dog

Even when you have a compassionate heart and the best intentions when trying to help others , it all can still unravel. Regardless, you have to do the right thing. Every time.

If you don’t see the lesson in this one, I hope you at least you get a chuckle out of it. There doesn’t always need to be a lesson. Sometimes the thing we need most in life is just a good laugh.

When I came out of my house this one morning to leave for work, I was greeted in my driveway by two happy, albeit wet, little white dogs. (It had been raining lightly.) These dogs were infamous; they lived nearby and had a reputation for roaming the neighborhood. I said hi to them, and as I opened my car door, one of them jumped in. Seriously, just jumped right in. That’s great.

I checked the tag on its collar and saw the address was one street over from mine. I grabbed the other little dog and put him in the car too, ready for delivery. Before I could even sit down, they were leaving muddy paw prints all over my leather interior. I shut the car door, walked to the back and grabbed a towel from the hatch, walked up to the driver door again, opened it, cleaned off my seat and sat down. In the next 60 seconds that it took me to drive to their house, the wet dogs went from my lap, to the passenger seat and on my purse and laptop bag, to under the steering wheel and everywhere else they didn’t belong.

I found their house and saw it had a For Sale sign out front with a big “Under Contract” sign attached. The house looked pretty stark—not just as if no one was home, but maybe that they had moved out over the weekend. But who would move away and leave these sweet little dogs behind?

But who would move away and leave these sweet little dogs behind?

The driveway

I pulled in the driveway, got out, left the dogs in the car with the engine running and walked up to the front door of the house. No one answered after two loud knocks, so I smashed my face against the window to see if the house looked lived in. It did. They must have left for work or something.

So then I was thinking about whether I should put the dogs in their own backyard or mine. I decided to call the realtor on the For Sale sign with hopes they could get in touch with the owners. I walked back to the car, pulled the driver door handle and… the door was locked. The rear driver-side door was locked. The hatch was locked. The passenger-side rear door was locked, and as I was about to try the passenger-side front door (just in case), I saw a neighbor across the street two doors down.

I hollered to him, “Do you know who lives here? I have their dogs in my car.”

He yelled back, “You’re not supposed to be able to lock the doors like that when the engine is running.”

I replied, “Well, the doors are locked.”

“But that’s not supposed to be able to happen,” he repeated.

“Well it did,” I hollered, “Do you know if the neighbors are home.”

“They were there last night,” was his reply.

I asked again, “But do you know if they work during the day? Do you think someone could be home or might be home soon?”

“They were home last night,” he repeated.

Since this neighbor (a.k.a. Captain Obvious) was not going to provide any helpful information, I yelled, “Thanks. I’m going to walk home and get my other car key.”

As I walked around the block to my house, leaving my car running in a stranger’s driveway with their two wet dogs locked inside and the engine running, all I could think was, “Please, please, please, please, please let my inside garage door be unlocked!”

Thankfully it was. I grabbed the valet key and walked back around the block to my car thinking, “Please, please, please, please, please don’t let the car alarm activate when I turn the valet key in the door while the main key is in the ignition and the engine is running.”

Thankfully it did not. I grabbed both little white dogs and walked with one under each arm to the back gate. One of the dogs was loving this; the other was not. The unhappy one was wiggling madly to get free. I managed to put them both on the ground and swiftly grab each one by its collar, and with that, the unhappy dog began trying to bite me.

I managed to put them both on the ground and swiftly grab each one by its collar, and with that, the unhappy dog began trying to bite me.

The fence

The fence and gate were six feet talk, and the gate latch was near the top. I’m only five feet tall, so I had to reach up to open the gate. I needed one hand free to do that, so I had to get both dog collars in one hand, which I did, but then the little dog’s heads were smushed together. While being bent over holding the two dogs on the ground in one hand, I couldn’t reach the latch. If I ended up lifting them off the ground a few inches by their collars in order to get the gate open, I’m sorry, but it was for their own good.

I got the gate open, shoved the dogs in the yard, latched the fence and then looked around for something to secure the latch. A loose bit of wire on the ground did the trick.

I walked back to the driveway and got in the car, which stank like wet dogs. Dirty little paw prints were everywhere. They had stepped on switches for the seat warmers; they had partially rolled down two windows, and quite obvious in that moment, they had stepped on the door lock button when I had been knocking on their front door.

The call

I called the number on the realtor sign. I was explaining to the women who answered the phone where I was, the unbelievable tale I had experienced, and that she needed to notify the homeowners that their dogs were safely stowed in their backyard. She didn’t quite understand what I was asking her to do, so I began to repeat, “Can you please call the owners and tell them…” I stopped mid-sentence as I saw two little white dogs come running joyfully from around the other side of the house. They ran behind my car and off down the road and never looked back. Adios.

“Umm, well…” I said to the woman on the phone. “If you could just tell the home owners that their dogs are running lose again, that would be great. Thanks.”

“If you could just tell the home owners that their dogs are running lose again, that would be great. Thanks.”

I hung up and backed out of the driveway. I was damp and muddy. My shoes were covered in grass clippings. And I stank like a wet dog. As I drove to work, a strange, tortured laugh bubbled up from my toes, gaining spite and regret as it rose until it spilled over with an earnest outcry of, “What the f*ck was THAT???”

Even if you face a challenge with a compassionate heart and the best intentions, sometimes it can still unravel before your eyes, and you end up right back where you started. That’s life, and you have to face the challenge anyway, again and again. Also, sometimes the people (or animals) who you want to help, don’t want your help, and sometimes you can’t do anything to change that. Regardless, you have to do the right thing. Every time.

Thank you for spending these moments with me, thinking about life. If you like what you’ve read, I’d love for you to share it. Spread some seeds…

2 replies on “When the tail wags the dog”

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