Friday, August 26, 2011

Excuse me Sir!

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“Excuse me Sir, your dog just peed on my lawn!”

I stood there waiting as the large man walking the offending lap-dog turned around to face me four square.  Being smaller than he, I puffed out my chest for effect and braced myself for a confrontation.

This wasn’t the first time that some inconsiderate dog owner allowed their best friend to befoul my front lawn. 

Tanya and I own a dog. When we take Callie for walks, we have two simple rules.  If she engages in business “Number Two” we take out a baggie and deal with it right then and there.  Our second rule applies to the business of “Number One”: At no time, shall Callie ever pee on someone’s lawn.

The reasons for this second rule are simple.  One, I work hard to make sure that our front yard is presentable and I am very proud of my lawn.  Dog urine, especially female dog urine, burns grass.  The second reason is that our kids play in our yard and I don’t want them playing in...well...you know! 

I don’t want this being done to me, so I won’t do it to others. 

Callie is seven years old and I can say with the honour of a Boy Scout that she has never had the opportunity to pee on someone else’s lawn.  We simply won’t let her.

Last summer I invited a dog owner to have her dog do its business elsewhere the next time she’s out for a walk in front of my house.  She launched into a tirade about the City owning the easement on my property and that as a tax payer she and her dog had every right to do as they pleased on the easement portion of my property.

I retorted by asking her, if her taxes paid for the sod I laid on City property, or if she is willing to pay for the water and general upkeep necessary to keep things looking clean and green....and so on and so on.

You could easily tell that this argument went nowhere at all – neither side convinced by the other.

It was this sort of confrontation I expected from my large friend walking his lap-dog last week.

Instead, I was pleasantly surprised as he took responsibility for his actions.  He simply said, “Yes, my dog did pee on your lawn.”   To which I replied, “I don’t appreciate that.”  What was his response?  “It won’t happen again.”  We both thanked each other and we moved on with our day.

Now I would love to convince you that he had to take responsibility, after all, I did puff out my chest!

In reality, he probably lives his life by the Golden Rule, “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.”  Mt. 7:12  This man may not even have the same rule as we do about dogs peeing on lawns, but he did recognize the fact that it bothered me.  If it bothered me, then that was enough of a reason to take responsibility and make a change.

I have to admit that sometimes I’m like the dog owner from last summer rather than this summer. 

 This is usually the case when (through my own fault) I’ve cut someone off in traffic.  So quickly do I resort to rationalizations, justifications and of course, I must boldly stand up for my right to be in the lane of my choosing.  

Then there are the times when my daughter tells me that I’m not listening to her.  She’s usually right.  I’m not really listening to her or trying to understand her point of view.  In my mind, I am right and that is that!

Both of these dog owners have taught me a valuable lesson.  My relationships vastly improve when I am humble enough to admit fault, and make a change.   This is, after all how I want to be treated when I am wronged; it really isn’t too much trouble to do the same in return.

If we all lived by the Golden Rule, this world would really be a better place and we would have far fewer troubles and we certainly would have nicer looking lawns.


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Read 33451 times Last modified on Monday, January 16, 2012
Patrick Clarke

Patrick Clarke is the Administrator of the Cathedral of the Holy Family.  He is married to Tanya.  Together, they have two children: Ava (7) and Lachlan (4) and they are expecting their third child in February, 2013