“Perplexed” has been a constant state for me for the past, oh, 8 or 10 years. Before then, I figured there’d be a moment when I’d stop being confused, but it’s gone on so long, in fact, that I’d be perplexed if I were not perplexed.
I remember as a young person really believing that being an adult meant you got it. You got it, all of it, and you were there living with all your immense knowledge and certainty, skillfully relaxing in your being an adult. Adults had answers.
I don’t have answers. Even though I expect that I shall become even MORE adult with the passing years, I no longer think that I’m going to have answers. And, the answers I think I have are very often wrong. Here’s an example.
Last year a dog broke loose from a neighbor’s yard. I always felt sorry for this dog because he was tied up outside in all weather and appeared to be neglected. It didn’t help that when he ran away, he ran HERE. The dog was picked up (because I called them) by the dog catcher and taken to the shelter for his owner to find or someone to adopt, whichever ended up happening. The dog was dubbed “Bullet” and I visited him at the shelter a couple of times to be sure he was OK. I really liked him. He was a lovable big puppy whom I believed to be friendless.
“Bullet’s” situation led me to get very worked up about dog tethering. He was tethered inhumanely, no question, and it appeared he was tethered 24/7. I did an online petition, got hundreds of signatures, wrote an ordinance, proposed it to the City Council, went to a meeting with three men (police chief, city manager, city attorney). The meeting was uncomfortable. I felt that they thought I was an old busy-body from California. We wrote a law and I backed off from the situation. The City Council would pass it or not.
The law was passed. Monte Vista is one of two cities in Colorado with a law prohibiting inhumane tethering. It’s something I’m proud of and of which I think the city should be proud. It’s a simple, straight-forward, two-line law that makes it possible for the cops to ticket someone who’s dog is chained up in a cruel way AND (most important) for cops to educate people about humane tethering.
Meanwhile, the vet who cares for Bullet gave the owner a small dog run so Bullet didn’t have to be tethered. At first, Bullet dug out all the time and, of course, came here. But he’d gotten smart and the dog-catcher couldn’t catch him. Finally, the owner found a solution to keep Bullet in the dog run.
Yesterday, I went outside to get the mail and who should I see? Bullet’s owner walking Bullet. I said, “Hi!” the man said, “Hi!” Bullet — whose name is “No Name,” said “Hi” by urinating on the fence.
“Sorry about that.”
“It’s OK. I love that dog.” I went outside my gate. “Hi sweet boy!” Bullet was sleek, brushed, a little chubby, happy, delighted to see me.
The owner and I talked, the owner helped me break down a box to put in the trash. More talk about “No Name” (husky pit — and unneutered so HUGE head) more kisses from No Name. “He really likes you,” said the owner. “But I don’t raise no mean dogs. A mean dog ain’t no good to anyone.”
They went on their way. In the exchange I learned a lot about No Name’s owner, mostly that he’s a good guy who loves his (very lovable) dog.
It made me think. Bullet — No Name — had inspired me to take an action to improve his life. My action was viewed suspiciously by many people, including No Name’s vet, who cared enough about No Name and his owner to give them a dog enclosure. I have never been opposed to dog tethering, though obviously it’s not a perfect solution. For some dogs and some people it’s the only way they can keep their dog safe, but when I went to the meeting the first thing the city manager said to me was, “You want a law prohibiting dog tethering,” even though at the City Council meeting, the first thing I said was, “I’m not trying to abolish dog tethering.”
It didn’t matter what I said; what mattered to the city manager was what he thought I WOULD say.
Everything in life seems to be like that. We take action all the time without ever being able to know the whole story behind anything, based on what we think is going on. I didn’t know Bullet’s whole story; the town didn’t know my whole story. We act on the evidence we have in front of us or what we believe to be true.
No Name’s owner doesn’t know that I’m the lady who made his dog a minor celebrity for a short time or led to No Name being given a dog run. He doesn’t know his dog runs away to my house. I didn’t tell him anything even though I think he might actually understand just from seeing No Name put his immense head on my shoulder as if we were old friends.
So, Towelie, a heroic character on the cartoon series, South Park. At least he says it straight out, “I have no idea what’s going on.” That’s true more often than we know.