Friday, January 27, 2006

Passing Along the Torch

This is going to be a two-blog day. I want to explain why today is a red-letter day, but--first--have a personal story to tell.

Today, when I opened my blog, I had a comment from Karen, passing along a charge to do a Random Act of Kindness. Little did I know how soon the opportunity would arise.

We have been in the middle of a drought here in Texas, and it's been serious enough that fire has been a big concern over the last six weeks. For the past five days, the weatherman has been promising heavy storms. Anticipating the rain and winds, I've been readying my lawn and garden.

I was out at daylight again this morning to continue working. I'd already put in an hour when a large white pit bull came barreling toward me.

Fortunately, I recognized the dog. His name is Astro, and he belongs to a neighbor about three lots from mine. The dog is deaf, which makes communicating with him difficult.

I keep dog treats on hand for my next-door dog, Penny. Using the treats, I lured Astro down the street to his home. The front door of his house was wide open and the storm door was open an inch or two. I figured Astro must have hit the storm door, knocked it open and escaped.

Don, the dog's owner, didn't answer despite my energetic efforts to rouse him. I soon realized he wasn't at home; he'd obviously left for work through the garage and forgot to secure the front door. And, unfortunately for me, the pit bull wasn't in the mood to be locked up again.

Historical note: I experienced a severe dog bite two years ago that put me in the hospital for a week. I am a little gun-shy and, when Astro refused to obey, I decided to call in reinforcements.

I headed straight for Linda, my long-suffering next door neighbor. She was even less inclined than I was to "force" a full-grown deaf pit bull to do something he didn't want to do. She knows Don's sister and promised to see if she could round up some help for us.

While we were talking, Astro disappeared. I turned around and he was GONE. Of course, there was no point in calling to him--he's deaf.

Linda and I agreed she would continue trying to reach Don, and I would go looking for the dog. I got into my car and started to search.

A note about my neighborhood: While urban, it is very, very heavily wooded and hilly. The lots are enormous, and the result is that it feels rural. The hills are so steep that some of my neighbors' houses are completely below street level. Standing on the street, you are even with their rooftops. Other homes are thirty or forty feet above street level. I mention this to point out how difficult it was to find one roaming dog.

Astro's being deaf was weighing heavily on me. I was concerned that he'd get hit by a car or wander onto the freeway (about three-quarters of a mile away). I'd driven around for twenty minutes before it occurred to me to listen for barking. Sure enough, there was a cacophony of barking off to the east. I headed in that direction and soon found Astro trying to make friends with a pair of barking dogs behind a fence.

Astro would NOT get in my car. He didn't threaten me; he just wouldn't obey me. I still have a leash in my door pouch that belonged to my border collie before her death last year. It turned out that Astro was very willing to be put on a leash. He would walk toward home, but not ride.

Accepting the dog's decision, I parked my car on the road and, together, Astro and I set out for home--half a mile away. Astro pulled and dragged me so that we made the trip in record time. By then, I was in NO mood to take any guff off a dog, even if he was a large pit bull. I marched up to the house, opened the door and walked in. Astro came along like a peaceful pug.

My relief was enormous. I waved goodbye to Astro and started out to walk back to my car. About halfway there, I came across an elderly woman sitting on a fence. She had obviously fallen, her pants were torn and she was tearful. I stopped to ask if I could help and discovered she didn't speak English.

Fortunately, I have a little Spanish and a little Italian. Turned out she was from El Salvador. She takes a long walk every morning and had slipped on some wet leaves. I was able to explain that, if she'd wait, I'd get my car and drive her home. I picked up my pace, retrieved the Explorer and brought her to where she lives with her daughter's family.

All this to say that I think I've fulfilled my Random Acts of Kindness charge for today and am ready to pass the torch along to anyone reading this blog. Your turn.

Later . . . We still need to talk about why today is so important.

1 comment:

For The Trees said...

I suppose the hardest part of Random Acts Of Kindness is that the opportunity to pass it along almost NEVER seems to happen when YOU want it to - somehow it ALWAYS intrudes on one's otherwise well-ordered day.

But then, the interruption almost ALWAYS leaves us feeling better, enriched. Good on ya, Maya. And I know Don appreciates it. Astro, well, you'd have to ask him and you can't...