Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Not the Post I Had Planned for Today

 As I've explained before, I am not a dog lover.  I am a person who has stewardship over a dog. And this is the second post in a week about our dear dog.
Don't get me wrong. I like Roxy, really. She's a pretty good dog, as dogs go.

When Ben turned twelve, he begged and begged for a dog. I've always thought boxers were a beautiful breed, so I did a little research, found a boxer rescue organization (Boxer Luv here in Maricopa County), and one of the volunteers matched our family with Roxy.  She was four years old, happy-go-lucky as most boxers are, a bundle of energy, kennel trained, and fully housebroken.  Ben and I went to meet her, and he immediately fell in love. She's like another kid around here--loving my little ones, snatching treats when they're within reach, and begging for a scratch behind the ears. She loves her people, and anyone else that will pet her.

Adopting a rescue dog always comes with a little baggage. You get the benefits of no puppy stage, already housebroken, etc., but you also get some unknown factors.  Dogs turned into the rescue often have a few quirks, and Roxy's happens to be other dogs--she hates them.  I don't know if she was never socialized with other dogs or what, but she cannot be around other dogs.  She immediately transforms into a fierce snarling beast. 

That's why a match with our family was perfect--she will always be the only dog.  Problem--we have four huge dogs that live next door--a boxer, two golden retrievers, and one is a huge breed I don't even know.  Whenever the dogs are in both yards, it's constant barking and badgering, a playground battle to see who's the toughest.  Occasionally one of my kids leaves the gate or front door open, and she escapes to continue the contest in their driveway, snarling at each other through their gate.
Yesterday, as I was leaving to pick up Lily from her friend's house, I saw Roxy returning to home from a forbidden adventure.  Usually she's excited to get in the car, so I pulled over, hopped out and she sauntered towards the Suburban.  I thought I should open the side gate instead and just let her into the yard, when I saw trouble approaching behind her.  My next-door neighbor had her two retrievers out on a leashed walk, but Roxy had yet to register their presence.  When they entered her sight . . . wow.  She forgot about me, quickly wheeled around and all the hair on her neck stood on edge.  She circled the two dogs and the woman, growling and snapping, and then she attacked.  I don't think I've been that scared in a while.  My neighbor, who had both leashes still in her hand, began yelling, "Get away.  Let go of my dog!"  Then she hit at Roxy and kicked at her, trying to disentangle herself from the commotion.  I was yelling, "Be careful!  Roxy, get off!!"  Finally, after what seemed like forever but must have been less than a minute, I got my finger through Roxy's collar, dragged her off and got her in the car.  Meanwhile, my neighbor had dropped one of the leashes while she checked her dog.  Yelling at Roxy, I got her in the car, shut the door and walked the loose retriever back across the street.

By this time, I was not only angry at Roxy, I was humiliated as well.  I apologized and cowered, fearing the justifiable wrath that was coming my way.  All my neighbor said was, "Don't worry about it.  Really.  Dogs will be dogs."

I was in shock--had she really just turned the other cheek, just like that? After what had just occurred--less than a minute ago? When I got in the house, I cornered Hyrum and Micah, explained to them what had just happened with the dogs because they had left the gate open, then I demanded that they each write an apology letter while I was gone picking up Lily.  I returned, and they had sheepishly walked next door, papers in hand and apology written across their faces.  I still felt like I had to say something more, so Brad and I walked next door, asking for vet bills or whatever was necessary.  Their younger son answered the door, and he reacted exactly like his mother--"Mom's in the shower, but it's no big deal.  Dog's fine.  Don't worry about it."

Thirty minutes later, both parents from next door rang our bell, carrying a small treat box, both claiming "dogs will be dogs,"  and for me not to think about it any more. She even apologized for kicking my dog--it had been bothering her. "And give these chocolate coins to your boys. That's scary to come apologize to adults like that. They were so cute. Thank them for their notes."

This experience was so not about dogs.

What would have happened if she had been bitten? Or me?  What if I hadn't happened up just at that moment? I don't even want to think about it.

And most importantly, how would I have reacted in the same situation--not like this, I can guarantee you.

I wish I could better articulate what this experience taught me.  I learned so much from this neighbor that I hardly see, rarely speak to, and barely even know--I don't even know her boys' names.

I have a lot to learn.  A lot.


  1. Thank you for sharing that story! That's not how MOST people would react. I guess it's just one of those tender mercies that Elder Bednar talks about. Not only that that happened, but that you can share that with others. It's good to remember that we can turn the other cheek even in potentially scary circumstances.

  2. Wow! That is amazing. What a wonderful person. I love that she treated your children with kindness, because it is hard not all adults get that. Believe me, I know.

  3. I'm totally amazed. What an awesome story. Glad everyone's ok!

  4. Your neighbour is a gem - you're lucky. I'm glad that the incident wasn't as bad as it could well have been.

  5. Great post Jen. Kindess shown to others is the best isn't it?!

  6. Tears here. What fabulous people. All of you. xo

  7. Wow! How scary that must have been for all of you. But, what an incredible neighbor you have! AND, you handled the situation beautifully. You apologized right after the incident, your boys wrote & delivered written apologies, and you and your husband apologized again in person & offered to pay any bills. And, your neighbors responded so gracefully.

    THIS is what being neighbors is supposed to be like. People treating one another with respect & kindess & mercy.

  8. P.S. - I forgot to say those are amazing shots of your dog! How incredibly cool that you captured his reflection in the water!

  9. Your neighbors' behavior is inspiring. Wow. Such clarity and understanding is rare. Thank you for sharing. You're so right to see this experience beyond "dog antics"--thank you for showing us this example of kindness.

  10. What a beautiful story, Jen. And it is perfect to read today, so close to Christmas. Thank you!


    PS. I posted my Christmas Eve tale today. It's not a short one, but I think you'll like it!

  11. Two of my married kids have Boxers. They are sort of an ugly/cute dog.

    Great story. Great neighbor. Great lesson.

    Hope you have a great week.

  12. Wow. Thank goodness for good neighbors and a lesson in forgiveness.

  13. how wonderful that it all worked out the way it did ... coincidence? i think not ... what a wonderful christmas lesson - for all of us :)

  14. Scary! I am impressed that Micah and Hyrum walked over before you even got home, good boys! your neighbor is a great example, I can learn much from her! Thanks for sharing

  15. I'm in shock over this. I can't believe how incredibly lucky everyone is in this situation.
    What's with all the water in the photos though? Is that a flooded yard, or what?

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