Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Neighborly Relations

When I got home from running errands today, there was a huge plant under my carport. It was a painted lady hibiscus, a big, lush plant with glossy leaves and gorgeous blooms. I assumed it was a gift from my mother-in-law, who is gifted with plants and probably thought I'd enjoy the showy flowers. Then I saw the card tucked between the lower branches.

The card was a pet sympathy card, the second I've received in as many days. (I honestly didn't know this genre existed but I am so glad it does.) A handwritten note on the inside flap said:
We know that pets are part of the family. We are so sorry this happened. There is no way to replace your cat, but maybe planting this in your yard will help you remember him. We are so sorry, Paul & Judie.

Paul and Judie are the neighbors across the street, the owners of the Siberian huskies who escaped their enclosure and attacked Benny. They have always seemed like nice enough people, but we didn't know them very well. The morning of, Paul came over to tell us to send the vet bill to him and he profusely apologized to Royal (I was too busy sobbing in the bedroom to talk to him myself). I knew they weren't bad people, and this was all just a terrible mistake. But I did harbor a wee tiny amount of resentment toward them. After all, their dogs were alive and howling to keep the entire neighborhood awake, while my cat was dead.

The plant and the card really moved me, though. I walked over and knocked on the door, and Paul answered the door, looking a little wary to see me. At his feet was his little black dachsund, Fred. Paul was wearing a black tee with an American eagle on it that I tried to not look at too closely because I was afraid it might be some Tea Party bullshit. Fred was wearing a neon mesh wife-beater. Paul and I had a nice chat, awkward at first. I've never met Judie, beyond waving to her while she's in her yard, and Paul told me all about her job. We talked about what home renovation projects we're working on, and lamented how it's always something, isn't it? We shook hands as I left and he apologized again. It was a nice chat.

Strangely enough, I felt some weird relief as I walked across to my own house. Benny's still gone, but a neighborly gesture helped me feel a tiny bit better about the world.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry, I didn't realize what happened with Benny (I haven't been paying much attention online). Being a dog person myself, I know it can be easy to slip into denial that your pet would ever hurt another living thing because he's so "gentle." Part of responsible pet ownership is recognizing no matter how much you treat them like little people, they're still animals. I'll bet Benny enjoyed chasing the occasional mouse or chipmunk true to his cat instincts, but of course he wasn't 85 lbs. I'm sure your neighbors are shocked and sad and realize that you're feeling far worse than they are. You were very gracious to accept their gesture the way you did. Thanks for writing this. I hope you can feel a little better soon. (And, hey, call me sometime...I really miss you).