Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Stranger at the Door

The knock came on the door late in the evening, well after eleven.

The dogs, of course, were set off a-barking, and I was summoned upstairs by my wife to see who it was.

Just about a minute later, we let her into our house.   She was lost and confused, but clearly no threat.  She was totally trusting, even though we'd never ever met.  Our dog...being a gentle but occasionally suspicious sort...took to her right away, but we're dog-sitting our dog-in-law, who can get aggressive with strangers, so we sealed her away in the kitchen.

We tried to sort things out with her for a while, and in the meantime, our unexpected guest paced around anxiously.  We offered a snack and water, which she eagerly accepted, guzzling the water like she'd not had any in weeks, after which she flopped around on the floor for a while and tried to get us to rub her belly.

She was a dog, of course, a big derpy and utterly trusting yellow lab.  "Luna," we learned, from her collar.  A neighbor from a few houses down was walking home from a late night of futbol at a local field, saw her running around in the darkness, and thought that she might be our dog.

Hence the knock, which is usually beyond the ability of yellow labs.

She was clearly friendly, so we decided the best thing to do was to host her for a while as we figured out where she came from.

We put in calls to the numbers on her tags and collar, and found our way to the family that was at that very moment driving around the neighborhood in the darkness anxiously looking for their dog.

Luna, I learned from the immensely grateful dad who pulled up just a few minutes later, had spotted one of the foxes in the neighborhood, and gone barreling off in pursuit, leaping fences and generally having a delightful adventure.

After she'd left, having been fed and watered, I found myself reflecting on just how neighborly she'd been, and how much she'd evoked neighborliness in us.

Not every dog is that pleasant, I'll admit.  But her assumption was that we were her friends, that we were there to help.  She wasn't anxious, or afraid, or aggressive, or defensive.  Being a dog and all, she was utterly oblivious to the endless whispering madness of our fear-based profit-media and our social-media hysteria.

Dogs may have co-evolved with us as social animals, but that part of what we are becoming as social creatures they have blessedly missed.  Not for a moment did she fret about us, or worry about accepting the shelter of our home.  She was just happy to take what hospitality we had to offer.

It's one of the reasons it's good to keep them around, I think.  They remind us of things we forget about ourselves.