I forgot to blog about this from a couple of weeks ago, when I was walking Ashley and some woman made a big loud and ugly fuss, screaming from the back door of her house and accusing me of letting my puppy make a mess in the alley behind her home. Subsequently I wrote this letter, which I dropped into her mailbox. Since it was signed anonymously and left there without any trace, there has been no follow up, but I hope she and her ilk have read it and feel the least bit chastened. Here it is:
Dear Madam of the House,
I hope you will read this letter in the spirit with which it is written. I refer to tonight’s incident where you stood at your back door and rudely shouted directives at me, and, worse, accused me of being an irresponsible dog owner. I wish to advise you firstly of these points:
a) That my dog is trained and does not do her business in public unless she is under duress (e.g. an upset tummy); she knows that she can only do it, as you said, in the back of my own home.
b) That in the event of any “accidents”, I always walk my dog with newspaper and plastic bag to clean up after any messes.
I found it highly incredulous that you would start berating a neighbour you don’t even know, without even being able to see me clearly, without having any proof my dog making a mess, and with full accusation that the only reason I was walking in the back lane was because I wanted my dog to do her business there. Even more incredulously, I was nowhere NEAR your house.
This whole incident, dear Madam, is regrettably very offensive. Had you stopped even briefly to consider, it might have occurred to you that at that evening hour, the main road was filled with cars, and it was safer for me to walk my dog in the back alleys, which I often do and which I have every right to do so.
To make matters worse, the man in your house warned me to “watch my tone” – highly ironic, given that you, dear Madam, was the one who took on the uncourteous and strident tone (may I use the word "obnoxious"?) to begin with.
(Could I kindly ask, are/were you a teacher? Because the way you talked to me, a complete stranger, was reminiscent of a tired educator in a government school. If I am correct, could I kindly remind you that educators—and parents, mothers, sisters—should educate? If I am off-base, I apologize.)
And then, of course, dear Madam, you had the audacity to say (bark, even) that you were merely trying to inculcate ‘civic-mindedness’.
Dear Madam, this isn’t a letter intended to threaten or insult or intimidate. Rather, it is a gentle and respectful call for you to please watch your own tone when talking to others; to please be mindful of the accusations you hurl in other people’s way; and to, overall, practise the civic-mindedness that you so loudly preached. (May I suggest that preaching, in general, isn’t the best approach when wanting to convey a message to someone else, and that a courteous and civil discourse would, indeed, bring about better results?)
Again, I hope you will take the contents of this letter bearing in mind that I have fully good intentions in writing it. Please, dear Madam, consider other people’s feelings just as you called on others to consider yours. Please, dear Madam and Sir of the house, watch your own tone just as you warned others to watch theirs. And please, dear Madam and Sir, learn that you should always talk to your neighbours with courtesy and respect—yes, even complete strangers— for only then can you expect the same to be returned to you.
I thank you for reading this.
With neighbourly sincerity and affection,
RESPONSIBLE DOG WALKER