Good intentions, but the wrong course of action
I work at a Church that has sponsored a refugee family from Afghanistan. While it is taking forever to get them out and safe, their dog got out 6 month ago. Lucky, a “Lab cross” (according to the papers that accompanied him) is 3 and was taken in by the family when at 4 month of age he was found being stoned, nearly to death, by some school aged boys.
The family nursed Lucky back to health and quickly became part of the family. When the family began the process to come to Canada they wanted to make sure the newest member of the family could come as well. SPCA International stepped up and in a similar fashion to our healthcare system, pets (often) get treated better than people. Lucky landed in Canada 6 month ago while the refugee family is still awaiting word as too when they may be able to come.
As the family waits on their approval to come to Canada, Lucky gets placed with fosters. SPCA International asked that the Church post in their weekly bulletin an ad asking for someone to foster Lucky. At first, the Rector was going to take on the task and a few others (myself included) would provide some relief. After submitting the application to Foster Lucky, the Rector was turned down as she has a young son and given Lucky’s experience being “Stoned”, there was a concern that Lucky might not do well in a home with a younger child. After some deliberation I thought “I’ll be the lead caregiver and they can be my backup.” Well I applied and Lucky (I am happy to say) has been with me for 3 weeks.
There is a problem.
While I am around a lot (I live and work in the same place), Lucky struggles with separation anxiety. As I mentioned, Lucky is listed as a “Lab Cross” and I’m beginning to think part of the “cross” is hound. You see, when Lucky is left alone, he barks, whimpers and howls. Yes howls. Like a Ware-wolf on a full moon whose leg is caught in a bear trap. If there is no activity (people gathering or talking loudly outside) then when I leave, he only does this for a few minutes — then settles down. Unfortunately, if the voices persist, so does the howling.
Last Saturday I had a job to do at another site and had to Leave Lucky. I wasn’t gone more than 40 minutes when my phone rang. It was a neighbour and they were calling to tell me that Lucky had been howling constantly and that she had heard breaking glass so she had called the police. My first thought (as Lucky is 85 pounds) is that he had gotten so riled up that he had smashed through a window. I quickly reminded myself that I had left lucky in what has become his safe space, the stairwell that leads from the street up to my second floor apartment. While it has a window he can see out of it’s a double pane window that I think even if I threw my 170 pound frame at it it would be very tough to break. Plus, the neighbour lives across a lane on the side of my building and that’s where she described hearing the window break. Lucky couldn’t get to those windows. I thanked her for calling me and alerting the police and I headed back.
Well she was right. Lucky had been howling and barking for a prolonged period and yes, there was a broken window. So were these two things related and if so how? Well, the church has a “Ring Pro” doorbell which is motion activated and records video and audio (with surprising clarity). Upon reviewing the footage (it fortunately captures a pretty clear shot of my street level entrance) we discovered that a well meaning individual passing by had come upon the church shortly after I had left and heard Lucky’s howls. He made it his truth that the dog was in distress and tried to calm him by talking to him through the door. As I mentioned earlier, Lucky does calm down but gets agitated if he hears people close by. This attempt to sooth actually put Lucky further into distress. The do-gooder, rather than calling the police, went into the lane a broke a window, entering the church with what I am sure was the best of intention. The odd thing is that he chose not to call the police but by smashing a window at 8:30 in the morning, caused a neighbour to call police. Seems to me his options were to call the police and be seen as a good samaritan or break in and be caught breaking and entering.
The rest of the story is that he never got to the Lucky as he was in a stairwell that was not accessible from within the church. Quite frankly, he’s pretty fortunate he didn’t get to Lucky as theres a chance Lucky would have seen him as a threat and turned on him. I’m also unsure what his plan was had he reached the dog. Was he going to sit with Lucky until I returned? Was his intent to “Release Lucky back into the wild” like an Orca being released from an aquarium? We may never know as he did give up and move on before the police arrived.
The entire experience made me think. I like finding the lesson in things I witness. What is it that I need to look at in me as I chuckle about this seemingly irrational event. The best of intentions but the wrong course of action.
How many times in my life had I been so well meaning but the act caused more challenges rather than happiness? How many times have I not thought things through? Like the do-gooder who was hell bent on saving the dog — was there really a plan in place had he reached the dog? Did he ever consider the fact that the dog may have responded to him as a threat and ripped him to shreds? I’m picturing a Seinfeld episode in my mind where George tries to rescue a squirrel from a tree and ends up needing a series of needles to stave off rabies.
My lesson today is simple. Think through the entire situation and try to match my results with my intention — and think it through to the end. Keep the good intentions but match the good intentions with a well thought out course of action.