Just because I can doesn’t mean I should

phone-012014-004It’s kind of crazy how the smallest, pettiest things can get under my skin – especially this time of year. You know, the time of year when everyone is magically turned into nice people without baggage, but that’s another post.

So gather round, its story time again.

Once upon a time a fair maiden lived in a quiet village filled with older people – people who should know better, but seemed to think the rules didn’t apply to them or their dogs. A few of them would take their dogs on daily strolls through the village without restraining them, allowing them to meander through all of the neighbors’ yards.

The fair maiden also had two large dogs, but realized she hadn’t trained them well enough to actually listen to her when she called – or yelled as the case may be. So she took them out 2 to 3 times a day separately on a leash and waited for them to do their business. What do you think happened when the dogs walking by without a leash sees the fair maiden’s dogs?

Yep, you guessed it, the neighbor’s dogs came charging into the fair maiden’s yard, not so much to attack her dogs, but in the first few minutes it’s very hard to tell. I forgot to mention that the fair maiden’s dogs are a lot like her. They are very introverted and don’t care much for other dogs. Again, maybe it’s lack of training and socialization, but the fair maiden doesn’t think it’s a problem since they aren’t charging into someone else’s yard.

The last time this happened the fair maiden took a tumble while trying to hold her dog back. She wasn’t quite sure how she ended up on her hands and knees on her front walkway with her dog growling and the neighbor’s dog barking and the neighbor lamely apologizing from the road, but it happened.

The fair maiden’s anger flashed and she saw red for a few minutes and asked the neighbor if he had ever heard of a leash. Meanwhile the neighbor called for his dog, and called and called as the fair maiden dragged her dog back into their cottage. She never turned around so she didn’t know how long it took the man to get his dog out of her yard. The fair maiden did begrudging note that the man’s other dog – he had two – never left his side. So not all dogs are assholes. Hmmm, kind of like people. The fair maiden would have to ponder that one for a while.

The fair maiden’s knee was scraped up and her shoulders and neck hurt from the jarring they took when her hands hit the walkway, but otherwise she was okay. But her anger and embarrassment were still eating at her. She needed to DO something. There were laws in the village that said you couldn’t go around without some sort of restraint for your dog. There had to be someone she could call. Teach her neighbors a lesson.

The fair maiden slept on it and while the anger subsided a bit she still wanted to let her neighbors know how irresponsible they were being. So she started envisioning large signs she could build and place in her front yard. They would say something like:

Beware of Dogs (and their owner too)

Leash law in effect – punishable by fine

The fair maiden supposed she would be well with in her rights to put up such signs or to make a call and become the neighborhood tattle-tale. But then she asked herself if that was the type of person she wanted to be. The one who reacted negatively toward every annoying thing her neighbors did. The one who let frustration and anger eat at her in her home until she stood at the end of her walkway shaking her fist and yelling at everyone as they passed by. The one every other person avoided because she was just that mean.

So the fair maiden took a step back and thought for a moment. While she was still smarting from the pain and embarrassment from the incident it surely wouldn’t kill her. And maybe she could influence her neighbors by her example instead of just yelling or getting them in trouble. Because as much as she wanted to believe that nothing she did had any effect on her neighbors or people she came across throughout the day, it did.

Actions have consequences, most unintentional – the neighbor surely didn’t want the fair maiden to fall down – but the consequences are still there and still felt. So the fair maiden decided that even though she had every right to put up signs and be angry she would let it go – again.

The End

So there you have it. Just because we can do or say something doesn’t mean we should.

I will be reminding myself of that as I visit with family and friends over the next few days. And I will also be taking an extra moment or two before I say or do anything so I don’t unintentionally cause negative consequences for those around me.

Who’s with me?


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