The other day, Joy, Timmy and I were leaving a birthday party in DuBois when this adorable dog waddled across the street and down into the parking lot.

Since we got our dog, Ruby, Joy and Timmy have been very attentive to dogs around them. Timmy noticed the pup and asked what was going on with him. He certainly wasn’t where he should be.

If I were alone, I would have gone to the dog, checked the collar, and located the owner. When I have Joy and Timmy, I am decidedly more cautious (okay, paranoid) and usually take the safest path. In this case, I answered, “I’m sure his owner will find him, buddy.”

“But we have to do something!” Timmy insisted. “What if he gets hurt?”

Against my better judgement, I told Timmy to stay behind me and approached the dog. I called, and the dog joyfully waddled up and sat down, tail wagging. I found the name on his collar and the address.

I looked around while the dog rolled on his back for Timmy to give him a belly rub. The address was down the street a little bit, so that was easy. My whole family walked toward the house and the little dog waddled beside Timmy. We went to the front door and Joy rang the doorbell. After a minute or two, Timmy tried the knocker. I then had Timmy crouch down and turn the collar toward me because I remembered seeing a phone number there. I was halfway through dialing it when the door flew open.

Now, I don’t know what I was expecting. I feel like answering the door is one of those skills that has two options: politeness or caution. “May I help you?” is a decent response. “Yes?” could work. I mean, you don’t even have to fully open the door! You just poke your head out and see what’s up. I admit that I’m cautious, so I tend to open the door with a “May I help you?” I keep the door partially closed, though, because I’m paranoid. I’m still not rude.

The door flew open, a woman stepped with cigarette (I think) in her mouth, and she shouted, “What the (expletive deleted)?!!?”

Joy gasped. Timmy shrank back. I said, “We found your dog.”

Oh, and Timmy learned a new word. I was careful to stress, over and over, that he hasn’t unlocked that word yet. I had done so well at shielding him from it.

The woman and her male friend stared at us. To his credit, the man said, “That was rude.”

We left, quickly I might add, and hurried back to the Bundymobile.

The couple sat dazedly on their front porch and continued to swear at passing cars. I went around another way to avoid driving past them.

I try to teach Timmy that kindness should be our default setting. He apparently learned this because he was not about to ignore the dog as I would have. Silly me.

People complain that no one is nice anymore. Have a few experiences like this, and you’ll start to lose niceness. I remember getting lost as a teenager on my way to places and asking for directions, but the older the person in the house, the less likely they would do anything but tell me to get off their property. This isn’t a new problem.

Maybe this couple has had people knocking on their door a lot for reasons I won’t speculate. Maybe they were asleep, and I woke them up. While that might explain this behavior, it certainly doesn’t excuse it.

So, let’s endeavor to be kinder, everyone – especially when we open the front door.

q q q

Andrew Bundy is a husband, father, teacher, writer, and nerd.

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