I woke up a little after 8 on Sunday morning. By the time 9:30 rolled around, Huckleberry, my beagle, was ringing his bell insistently, his way of requesting to go outside and evacuate his bowels, or leisurely sniff around because the warmth and comfort of inside is far more boring than the smells in the elements.
I bundled up and we ventured into the 4 degree morning. The dry Denver cold was not near as bad as I was expecting, so I decided to keep the beagle out a bit longer and we went into the court yard to play fetch. I was told once that I’d never teach a hound how to fetch – how I’ve proved that wrong! Huckleberry will chase down a tennis ball, bring it back to me and dance around, enticing me to wrestle it away from him. I always gain control of the ball, because he just doesn’t last long playing games without letting loose a howl, requiring him to fully drop the ball.
After about 5 minutes of Beagle-Rules-Fetch, one of the windows in my building opened and a gruff, inhuman roar echoed through the small courtyard, “GAHHHH! SHUT YOUR FUCKING DOG UP BEFORE I COME DOWN THERE AND FUCKING STOMP ON HIM!”
I wanted to reply, in kindergarten sing-song fashion, “You didn’t say in the magic word…”
I wanted to shout back, “Look, asshole, I’m just as pissed about the Bronco’s losing as you are, pop a fucking Motrin, drink a Bloody Mary, and get over it.”
I wanted to stomp my feet and holler, “You live in a pet-friendly apartment, you could be more friendly to my pet! Or, maybe, move out!”
I wanted to return the threat, “Oh, you’re going to stomp on my dog? Well, I’m telling P.E.T.A. and they are going to napalm your car!”
I wanted to throw a rock through the anonymous window.
I didn’t do any of those things. I called Huck over, “Here, boy. Sounds like someone is a little hung-over. Lets not get ourselves stomped…” and we returned to the apartment.
Over coffee, I reenacted the experience before the Tribal Counsel. I was visibly upset and blabbering, but after a hot cup of coffee, we were able to identify the root of my feelings:
1. I was insulted by the tone and language of the Angry Stranger. I would have happily responded to a shout of, “Please stop your dog from barking, we’re still sleeping up here.” I don’t understand why it is so common for confrontations to be anonymous and hostile. I’ve come to expect internet “trolls” and “haters” from the far reaches of the web, but am still very surprised when people are rude in person. Maybe hiding behind a window shade gave the Angry Stranger anonymity similar to that found online and therefore he felt comfortable addressing me in a manner he would not have had we been face to face.
2. I was threatened by his tone and language. I live in this building. I need to feel safe in my place of dwelling and seek out community with my neighbors. We live in a violent society and I am not one to antagonize an unknown angry man. Being shouted out in such a way made me feel very uncomfortable. I was ashamed of how much it scared me. I felt like a little mouse as I bent down to leash my dog and leave the courtyard.
3. I was bewildered. I’d never received a noise complaint about my dog. Almost everyone in my building has a dog or two and barking happens. I haven’t noticed any out of the ordinary or incessant barking from any of the units and Huckleberry has played in the courtyard with our canine neighbors on several occasions.
4. I felt guilty. I strive to be a careful and conscientious pet owner. I always pick up Huck’s excrement and don’t let him run around in the hallways off leash. When I realized that it was before 10:00 AM on a weekend, I felt truly sorry for being inconsiderate to my neighbors. I know I was in the wrong. Still, I would have appreciated a more respectful correction than, “SHUT YOUR FUCKING DOG UP BEFORE I COME DOWN THERE AND FUCKING STOMP ON HIM!”
Since the Angry Stranger remains a stranger to me, I’ve decided on my course of action, I’m printing out 6 copies of the following letter and posting it on all the doors of the potential offended party:
This letter is addressed to the building occupant who was disturbed on Sunday morning by my dog’s barking. Since you only shouted at me from a window, I was unable to identify you and apologize for my rude behavior. I have printed out copies of this letter for all possible units from which I could have heard your voice.
I understand that playing fetch with my dog in the courtyard before 10 AM on a weekend is disruptive and inconsiderate. For that, I apologize and assure you that I will be more mindful in the future. I strive to be a considerate pet owner and neighbor. I would appreciate your efforts to be a more considerate neighbor in the future as well.
I respond quite well to polite requests and common decency. I assure you, had you opened the window and nicely requested that I take my disruptive dog away from the courtyard, I would have expediently done so. Your profanity, angry tone, and menacing words made me feel uncomfortable and threatened. I did not appreciate being yelled at in this manner, and having no history of offending you; I felt your explosive reaction was unjustified.
Thank you for your consideration. I hope to continue moving towards building a positive community in our building through respectful and understanding interactions.
Erin, Apt 310