I have spent a great deal of the week dealing with people issues. The women’s group I have been facilitating has disbanded, and while I know in my heart, it was the right thing, it hurts. There have been some misunderstandings with some other folk, and while all but one are resolved, the interim work of sorting through and finding unity is stressful.
The one unresolved issue is my fault. My willful actions caused it. I admit it, and while the circumstances are stressful, and I don’t know what the final outcome will be, I would do the very same thing again. Sometimes in life you just have to choose who to disappoint and make angry, and I stand by my decision.
Let me explain a bit about my odd week, and perhaps it’ll make more sense. Yesterday the children and I were headed to the library when my son found a caterpillar clinging to the window for dear life. We save caterpillars. Okay, we do not try to act in ways we know are harmful to caterpillars. Being on the outside of a window on a van moving 60 mph is harmful for most caterpillars, so we stopped on the side of the road, and I took the caterpillar off the window and sat it on the green grass of someone’s yard. I then got back in the van and was ready to leave when my daughter yelled, “MOMMY!!! THERE’S A PUPPY!!!” There was traffic coming from both directions. A puppy was not going to last on the road, so I asked where the puppy was and opened my door hoping to get the puppy before traffic did. Before I could exit the van, the “puppy”, which was a full-grown Jack Russell Terrier, jumped into my lap. Thankfully, he was a lovable JR, and he had a tag. Not a problem. We simply return him to his home, and all is fine in the world again.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. Because it wasn’t an identification tag, there was no address information. Undaunted, we called animal control to have them run the number on the tag, so we could return the very friendly dog to its home. That is when I realized it was a rabies tag. Not a problem. The officer at animal control called the veterinarian’s office to obtain the address and call me back. We sat where we were and waited for the return call. The phone rang. Good news. The veterinarian had the information. Bad news. It was out of date. The officer and I ran through options. Ultimately, there was only one reasonable option—we needed to take the dog to animal control and let them run names through city address and phone books to hopefully find his home. Thankful to have kept the dog from being hit by a car and yet sad to let him go, we left our new-found friend kissing the officer at animals control.
We had done our good deed, and we felt good about it.
More than that, my children were really excited to have a mom that was willing to make the extra effort for some furry friends. And that wasn’t anything compared to today.
My son asked if we could work on his spelling outside since the weather is beautiful and he focuses better swinging on the swing. I picked up his book and headed out behind him. However, we ran into a problem. Our neighbor’s dogs were barking so incessantly and loudly that we could not focus.
Upon investigation, we found the source of the barking was a cat in a tree in the back of their yard. Upon closer investigation, we found the cat was really barely more than a kitten and had no way to escape the dogs. The dogs were jumping up toward the cat trying to grab it, and the cat was not holding on well. It was a matter of time before the dogs reached the cat, and the Husky-Shepherd mix, Boxer, and other large dog didn’t want to be friends. Without intervention, the cat was not going to survive.
I tried to call the dogs to me in an effort to give the cat time to escape. That didn’t work. I emailed our neighbor to ask how I could get the dogs’ attention and waited by yelling for the dogs and continuing to try to divert their attention. I leaned over the chain-link fence and put out food. Again, no interest. I then tried to bribe them with treats. They already had a treat in mind.
Thirty minutes had passed. The cat was further down the tree, barely above “lunge range”, and there was still no email. I tried calling our neighbor’s cell phone. No answer. In a desperate act, I called animal control and explained the situation. The officer told me they could not enter a private residence. I told him I wasn’t asking for the dogs to be removed. I just needed help getting the cat out of the tree and putting it where it was safe. Could he possibly help me with that? An officer was dispatched, but it would “take some time”. Fine.
I knew all I needed to do was get the dogs in the garage and close the door, but how could I do that? Suddenly, I knew. I went to the front of my neighbor’s house and banged on the garage door. Two of the dogs ran inside. The Husky-Shepherd stayed at the tree. I then went to the wooden gate to the backyard and pounded on it while calling all the dogs’ names. Two came to me immediately. When the Husky-Shepherd saw me petting the other two dogs through a missing picket, she came, too. While I pet the dogs and talked to them, my children kept vigil on the cat.
Then I heard what I had been waiting for—praying for. “Mom!! Mom, I have the cat!! The cat is in our yard, and I have it!!”
I patted the dogs and told them they were good dogs. Then I went back to our backyard and tried to call animal control. I had no need for them now. The cat was safe.
While waiting on hold with animal control, I again emailed our neighbor, who had not responded in the past forty-five minutes or so, to say we had the cat, and I was trying to cancel my call to animal control.
Unfortunately, the officer arrived before I was able to get through and cancel the call, and when he left, there were several slips of colored paper on my neighbor’s door. None of them directly related to my call, mind you. However, there are licensing laws and other regulations, and the City doesn’t like being ignored in those areas.
Although the officer offered to take the cat, which had no tag at all, with him, I told him we would handle it. Our concern was not that it was in the yard. Our concern was that we didn’t want it killed by the dogs. After the officer left, the children and I took the cat around the block to try to find its home, and we did so successfully.
When I returned home, I had an email waiting for me. Our neighbor is furious. The details are irrelevant. The summary is the relationship with our neighbor took a serious blow, and I don’t know how willing she is to allow it to be repaired. We will talk tomorrow and see. Normally, we would have dealt with it today, but they are having a family celebration, and we aren’t going to interrupt that.
I’ll be honest. I don’t want my neighbor mad. I like her. I like her family, and I even like her dogs. She thinks I overreacted. She thinks it is about her dogs barking. She thinks the cat was trespassing and whatever happens to the cat happens. I see where one could argue that it was her private property and her private business. I could argue that the dogs barked for over and hour and a half virtually non-stop making it impossible to enjoy my backyard. It’s more than that, though.
For me, it was less about the animals involved and far more about my children. All I kept thinking was, “I will not let those dogs kill that cat in front of my children, and I will not make my children go in the house and try to explain to them why I am ignoring a situation in which an animal is killed because of my inaction, especially when all we have to do is distract the dogs for five minutes so the cat can leave.”
It took less than five minutes. It took less than three minutes for the cat to leave once it had an open road. My children rejoiced and shouted for joy longer than that.
After we were home and beginning to be still, I processed the seething email I had received. As I considered the consequences of what I had done, my daughter came up to me and hugged me. “Thanks, Mom,” she said blissfully. Surprised, I asked for what. She looked at me with twinkling eyes and said, “For being the kind of mom who is willing to stop by the road to save a caterpillar and for being the kind of mom who tries so hard to make sure a stray dog is safe and for being the kind of mom who does whatever she has to so a cat isn’t killed just because dogs won’t come when their names are called. You are magnificent.”
My son walked in about that time, and he joined in the accolades, “Yeah, Mom, you are the ultimate animal rescue hero.”
My daughter nodded. “Yeah, that is what you are—a hero.”
Yes, my neighbor is mad. You might even agree with her. That’s okay. I won’t try to convince you otherwise. We could argue it both ways. There is one thing that cannot be argued, though. When my children see their friends next, they’ll brag on their mom, the Animal Rescue Hero.
Sometimes life requires choosing who to impress and who to offend. Today, I think I chose well. Granted, I upset some folks, BUT, my children think I am a hero.
Copyright Jerri Phillips 2007