Reflecting beyond the day I found out why.

Neighbors Need Nurturing

Published September 13, 2014 in Daily Reflections - 0 Comments

To know a bad neighbor is to know a better one elsewhere.

Among the most embarrassing circumstances of dog walking would be watching as your dog takes a dump on a neighbor’s lawn.  Some fellow homeowners meticulously groom their grass all summer long, leaving it perfectly green and clipped, so seeing a dog desecrate their pride and joy can easily induce rage.  Further frustration ensues when witnessing such desecration as the dog’s owner casually walks away from your lawn.

I was that bad dog walker, going on my first 5K, not carrying the required trash bags to clean up after my dog, Sage.

I made it a point to ring the doorbell of the first house where this happened, introduce myself, and promise to return to clean up the mess.  To say this person was surprised was likely an understatement, but she gratefully accepted my offer to clean up the mistake, and I returned with a handwritten apology and a jar of homemade peach preserves.  Do I make peach preserves?  No.  This was regifting at its finest, so I hope it tasted good.  In fact, the jar just said peach, so I’m not sure if I gave her peach jam, peach chutney, or peach barbecue sauce… because all looked like plausible options.  It was the nicest looking little small gift I could find, perfectly tied with a bow on top.

The second drop zone was farther out, so I returned to the guy’s house where it occurred.  He was outside when I arrived, and looked at me funny when I parked my car in his driveway.  His face was contorted as I extended my arm, bent over, and picked up a wet clump of dog poop.  This wasn’t meant to be exciting, but it certainly was my responsibility.  He remarked that most people wouldn’t return to take care of such a small infraction.  This is how I was raised though, at least following that time I TP’d a kid’s house and soaped his car in high school… then got caught sneaking back in at night and had a sit down with that kid’s parents to apologize about what we did.  And once you’ve had soap in your mouth, you don’t easily forget the taste of doing the wrong thing.

I supposed this is just a common sense approach to doing the right thing, and it takes some good (sometimes harsh) parenting to kick a bit of sense into you.  But when I thought about it further, I realize good parenting is just as important as being a good neighbor.  Building strong community relationships require setting a good example for others to follow and imitate, and furthermore, being willing to do the right thing at the right time is required to foster a positive perception of the people living around you.  If just one person does that on their block, it helps the others believe in that sense of community, and more good acts of kindness should ensue.  In this case though, this isn’t just the “kind” thing to do… it’s the right thing to do, because everyone needs to take responsibility for their own actions and the actions of the people and pets they influence.