A while back, I had a wonderful friend and neighbor. Mrs. Neighbor lived with Mr. Husband in a house that was always full of teenagers (some of them were even hers). Well, one weekend, Mr. Husband took the teenagers on a camping trip and left Mrs. Neighbor with the house completely to herself. This had never happened before. There was much rejoicing on the part of Mrs. Neighbor, but secretly I was was worried about her being in that big house all alone. I immediately decided to be a nosey neighbor put myself on guard duty for the weekend.
The very first night, I noticed that her car wasn’t in the driveway when I went to bed. This was a bit strange, considering she was always home and in bed before me.
When I woke up the next morning, her car still wasn’t in the driveway. I started to become concerned. I called Mrs. Neighbor’s cell right away… no answer. I sent her a text. WHERE ARE YOU? ARE YOU OKAY? A couple minutes later, there was still no response. Mrs. Neighbor always responds quickly to my text messages, so I knew right away something was very wrong. What if she was in the hospital? What if she had gotten in a car wreck? Who should I call? Mr. Husband was completely unreachable, out exploring the wilderness. I called and texted Mrs. Neighbor repeatedly while trying to think of what to do next.
And then the thought hit me–oh, my god. Her dogs! They were always in their kennels when no one was home. Had they been let out? Had they been fed? Were they alive?
By now I had worked myself into quite the panic over the whereabouts of Mrs. Neighbor. Always cool under pressure, I sprang into action. I would do the one thing I could–I would make sure the animals were taken care of. I marched myself into her house, let the dogs out of their kennels, and began hunting for the dog food. I searched closets, cupboards, nooks, and crannies. Finally I found a can of wet food and divided it between the two dogs, who were very grateful. Satisfied I had done my very best to keep her animals alive, I returned them to their kennels.
Actually, I only managed to get one of them back in. The other, a grumpy wiener dog named Max, was not so eager to return to confinement. Good will forgotten, he barked and snipped at me while I tried everything I could think of to convince him to cooperate. I used treats. I used my nice happy voice. I used my firm no-nonsense voice (which was really my irritated voice). I tried chasing him around the house with a laundry basket, hoping to trap him underneath.
And this was the point when Mrs. Neighbor returned home to find me in my pajamas, wielding a laundry basket over my head while I chased her dog around the house calling him unpleasant names.
There was some awkwardness while I tried to explain my concern for her safety, and that of her animals. Where were you?, I asked, fully expecting some sort of mishap that had kept her away all night.
Turns out she was at the grocery store. The dogs had only been alone for an hour when I barged in to rescue them.
Always the good sport, Mrs. Neighbor simply thanked me for feeding her dogs cat food, took the laundry basket from me, and sent me home.
I learned a valuable lesson that day, one I thought I’d share during this season of giving and helping our neighbors. It is always good to lend a helping hand… just make sure your help is actually wanted.
And as a bonus, here’s another tip: if you’re going to break into your neighbors’ house to rescue their dogs, be sure to put some pants on first.
Have you ever been overly helpful? I’d love to hear about it!