Joe and Frank were neighbors. They lived in custom built homes on quarter acre lots in an upscale neighborhood. They were both married, had two children, worked long hours, and had the customary family dog. Oh, and one other thing – they hated each other.
The dispute between them started when Frank moved in next to Joe. Being the loving father he was, Frank was soon erecting a mini playground in the backyard. The problem was, when he had finished building the masterpiece, it spilled over into Joe’s yard by more than two feet. Joe, being the perfectionist and having some space issues, was furious! Frank, being the carefree go with the punches type of guy, couldn’t care less.
In the end, Joe got the police involved and Frank was forced to move his creation which was no easy job due to its enormous size. After wasting a whole Saturday making his playground acceptable to his neighbor, Frank swore off any future relationship and resolved to hate the man for the rest of his life. The feeling was mutual.
Then it happened. One cool fall evening as Joe was relaxing in front of the TV, his wife yelled to him, “Jackson’s out, Joe! He’s in Frank’s backyard!”
Joe darted out the back door and then froze. Frank’s dog, Fergi, was in a protective stance between Jackson and two year old Matthew. The two dogs were growling in deep tones as they sized each other up.
“Marian, call Frank now!” Joe yelled out in fright.
He then crept across the lawn careful not to startle either of the animals. The baby was crying now as Joe’s dog made a dash at Frank’s. The two animals collided in the air as Fergi fought to protect what was his.
Frank rushed out the patio door and took in the scene. He moved towards his son but the dogs were criss crossing between him and the child.
“It’s ok Matthew!” he spoke loudly and with as much steadiness as he could muster. “Daddy’s coming. Just stay right there.”
The dogs were up on their hind legs now lunging at each other’s throats. Anything that moved near them was seen as an enemy to be attacked. Their eyes were filled with lust for blood and they knew no boundaries.
Frank finally was able to circle around the dogs and pick up his crying son. Holding him closely he breathed a prayer of thankfulness.
“Marian! Get my gun!” he yelled.
He saw her rush back into the house and was surprised to see Joe do the same thing. Frank made his way around the dogs one more time and handed off the baby to his wife as he took the gun from her.
Joe returned with his gun in hand and both men looked at each other agreeing on what had to be done.
Joe was the first to lift his gun. He pointed it at Jackson, took aim, and listened as the sound of gun fire filled the air. Both dogs dropped at once. Frank didn’t miss a beat but swooped in and grabbed Fergi by the collar and rushed him into the house pulling the sliding door quickly after him.
Joe stood motionless; stunned by what had just happened. He hadn’t pulled the trigger. He was about to kill his own dog but Frank fired first. He slowly realized that Frank had shot a blank into the air in order to scare the animals and momentarily break up the fight.
Here his dog had endangered not only Frank’s dog but the life of his child as well and yet Frank chose to spare Jackson’s life. Why would he do that?
“Here I’ll help you get him home,” Frank offered as Joe reached down to check on Jackson.
“I don’t know what to say, Frank,” Joe began. “I’m so sorry. Jackson has never done something like this before! Is Matthew ok?”
They laid Jackson down on the kitchen floor and then slowly stood facing each other. They both seemed to see the bigger picture here. The dogs were only acting the same way they had often dreamed of acting towards each other. Seeing the raw emotions played out right in front of them was truly ugly.
Both men went to bed that night resolving to be better neighbors from that day forward.
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