Karen B. London
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He Walked His Dogs All the Time
That’s enough for me to like my neighbor

Years ago, when I lived in New Hampshire, I had an unpopular neighbor. Most of the people who lived near this man disliked him, and my own husband said that he made him uncomfortable. True, he wasn’t the friendliest man and was more likely to grunt at greetings than reply kindly. He was by no means the quietest one in the area, seeming to feel that 6 AM on a Saturday was a perfectly reasonable time to mow his lawn or use his chainsaw to cut wood. He parked his cars in places that inconvenienced us all, and was quick to file an official complaint if anyone hadn’t shoveled their walk after a snowfall. Generally speaking, he was a bad neighbor by most measures.

In spite of his faults, I never felt ill feelings towards him because he walked his dog several times a day, every day, no matter what the weather. For those of you who have not braved a New England winter, the weather can be foul for many months. (When it’s 20 below, my thoughts run more along the lines of “If it were 50 degrees warmer, it would STILL be freezing” than in the direction of “Let’s go walk the dog.”) But this man never missed a walk, and his happy, polite dog was the beneficiary of that wonderful habit. I was completely unable to dislike a person who was so good to his dog.

Have you noticed someone who is so good in some aspect of dog guardianship that you can look past all other transgressions? What does it take to earn a forgiveness pass from you?


Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Tricia | August 12 2009 |

I find that my own feelings towards people change when I see how well they treat their dog. At the park I've seen owners that I would describe as a UF (an unfriendly), but somehow their dogs are delightful. I always remind myself that this person can't be that bad becuase they're so good to their happy dog.


Submitted by Dorothy Hearst | August 13 2009 |

I love that you forgave your neighbor his trespasses because he is good to his dog. We are our best selves when we are around dogs. Dogs allow us to love something unconditionally, to give of ourselves, and to see ourselves in the eyes of a creature that doesn't judge us. Dogs have been our companions for much of our evolution. How human would we be without them?

Submitted by Julia Kamysz Lane | August 16 2009 |

What a great story! Maybe your ex-neighor would've been even more socially awkward or isolated had it not been for the companionship of his dog. I've met a few people with whom I did not "click" until we found common ground over our dogs. But nothing as touching as what you experienced. Thanks for sharing it!

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