I have always depended on the blindness of strangers. A contest!

Weh-heh-hell, it was bound to happen.  As I mentioned, we got a puppy a few months ago, and have spent the summer training him.  This morning on our front porch, we found a copy of a children’s book called Orville:  A Dog Story.   Written inside the cover was this note:

Here is a wonderful story of a dog, passed on to you with love.

When you are done reading about Orville, you may keep the book or pass it on to someone else.

From a friendly stranger

The book is about a dog who has had a bunch of different owners, all of whom had hearts of stone and did not understand dogs.  An excerpt:

There had been other people, too, whose smells gave their whole lives away, but he had left them.  There were some things he remembered (a leaky doghouse at the edge of a muddy yard, a little girl who carried a one-eyed doll), but mostly he tried to forget.

Everywhere he had ever lived involved a chain, and he had broken every one, and there were six spots on his neck where hair didn’t grow because the chains had rubbed it off.

Things just get worse from there for this canine David Copperfield, this furry Ivan Denisovich, this four-footed, slobbering, kibble-munching Job.  His new owners chain him up in the mud, giving him little more than straw and ice for sustenance.

Night after night, Orville thought about the world, and all his sadness turned angry.  He knew about the broken hearts of people, and how they failed to love and do right, and knowing what he knew just made him want to bark. He took to barking.

I kinda skimmed the rest, but after that I guess he eventually meets some orphan named Sally who has blonde curls and is just as lonely as he is, and they find solace with each other, and nobody even needs to be chained up ever again, because when there is love and understanding, there are no chains . . .

and if Orville had found a harmonica

(N.B.:  This is still a dog we’re talking about.)

and if he’d known what a harmonica was, he would have picked it up and given it a toot, just like that.

Just like that, indeed.  If someone had given our dog a harmonica, he would have gobbled it up and then frantically galloped around the yard with a musical butt for the next week, just like that.  But that’s neither here nor there.

Why, you may ask, did someone give us this book?  What crimes against doghood did we commit, to earn this gentle rebuke, with the nice pictures for kids, like this one:

We racked our brains, and this is what we came up with:

Sometimes we tie him up. On a sixty-foot lead, with a trolley. For ten minutes or less, by the clock. We do this when he is in one of those moods where he is so wildly in love with us that he just can’t help devouring us.  We feel that it’s important to instill a strict No-Devouring policy in him now, while he is still only about forty pounds of exuberant muscle, because within a year, he will be tall enough to eat off the top of the refrigerator.  Did I mention that he is half German Shepherd, half Great Dane?  Did I mention that he spends 25% of his life sleeping on the couch, 25% of his life eating the baby’s food while she laughs and tries to lick him, 25% of his life pooping or watching someone else clean up his poop, 24% of his life playing wild chasing and wrestling and tickling games with nine children who adore him, and 1% of his life tied up?

Anyway, back to our cruelty.  When he’s tied up for five or ten minutes by the clock, he barks for a while, then he lies down.  We peek out the window to see if he’s learned his lesson, and then we rush out and shout, “WHO’S A GOOD DOG? ARE YOU A GOOD DOG?” and hug him we give him a bacon-flavored treat.

Diabolical, isn’t it?

Well, I’ll tell you, we’ve learned our lesson.  I’m never going to tie up our precious pup again.  If he decides he wants to chew on our faces, we’re going to let him, because love!!!1!  We are also planning on buying the poor guy his own harmonica, because you have to admit, that would be entertaining.

Also, I’m going to take our benevolent stranger’s advice and pass the book along.  Who wants it?  Tell me your most irritating or outrageous “interfering stranger” story in the comment box, and the best one wins a slightly chewed-up copy of Orville:  The Dog Who Loved Too Much.

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  • That illustration reminds me of Slender Man. Thanks for the nightmares, sanctimonious dog-loving stranger.

  • Rebecca Lamb Mlinek

    When I was about 8 weeks post-partum with my first baby, I received an anonymous envelope in the mail that contained a magazine ad for some celebrity-endorsed weight loss juice. (I think it literally said, “The secret weight-loss trick used by celebrities!”) I’m pretty sure I know who sent it, and someday (deathbed?) I plan to bring it up. Not today, though! It’s only been 14 years, I need more time to heal.

    • Stephanie

      Are you serious?! Did it look like it was a page ripped out of a magazine, with your first name written on top? Because that happened to me with my last baby this year!
      I swear I turned 5 shades of red just standing there in the doorway (in my urp-stained plus-sized sweats) opening the mail. I really think that it’s some sort of address-selling scheme worked out between the weight-loss company and the hospital. Or the registry of live births. Anyway, be healed. It’s not just you.

      • Rebecca Lamb Mlinek

        Yes, it did look like a ripped-out magazine page! Now you are making me wonder….You may have just saved one of my relatives from a turbulent deathbed. 😉

  • Regina

    I remember it like it was yesterday. . .It was August of 2013. Miley Cyrus had just twerked her way into America’s heart and America’s favorite anti war president was about to go to take us to war, Syriously. I had just come home from a week long camping trip with my six kids and my husband. We had packed our entire 3600 square foot home into a 500 foot cabin. I had delusions of grandeur. I anticipated family gatherings around a campfire. I envisioned s’mores and roasted hotdogs. But it was not to be. It rained. It rained nearly every day. The wood was wet. I had to make sloppy joes from an electric hot plate. The children HATE sloppy joes they said. Noah saw less rain. In fact, Noah had less people, a bigger ark and fewer bugs. Noah was on a cruise ship compared to my camping trip. I was okay on days one and two. But by day three, I started the eye twitch. By day four I was cursing like an 18th century sailor. By day five I was legion. When we repacked the 3600 square foot household into a mini-van to return to civilization. I stopped to go to Confession. I was muddy. I was sh*t-besmirched. I was wearing shorts. But I needed sacramental grace. When I got out. . .I found someone had placed on my disgustingly dirty minivan a copy of “Dressing with Dignity” by Colleen Hammond.

    • Regina

      I have no pets and I recuse myself of the contest. . .Just felt good to vent.

    • Gary TheAlligator

      Pictures, or it didn’t happen.

    • kiwords

      NO. They did NOT.
      Oh, honey. I am…wordlessly shaking my head now.

    • NurseTammy

      I know this woman and she already dresses with dignity…when she can get her laundry done. She sometimes posts photos of her laundry pile and it makes me gasp with horror. She is also the very best story teller (of either real stories or wild yarns) ever. I hate it when her kids are good in Mass because I know Im missing a great story later.

    • This is the best laugh I’ve had all day! awesome.

    • anna lisa

      This one made it to the “must read to husband category”. He laughed heartily until it came to the punchline, and then said something I can’t repeat.
      Yesterday, I hung out with my sister’s moderately pagan dancer friends for a beach potluck. It’s always a breath of fresh air to be around people who act like Christians.

  • Mary

    Tying up = cry it out for dogs. He’s clearly been scarred for life.

  • Pamela Cipparulo

    I don’t have an entertaining Stranger Who Cared Too Much story, but I do have a highly entertaining one about Pets Who Eat Too Much which involves a cat, some strapping plastic and poop. Perhaps I should write it up and pass it along?

  • Pamela Cipparulo

    I say Regina wins.

  • HAHAHAHAA!! Nothing I’ve got beats that. 🙂

  • terentiaj63

    I once left my dog in the car while I stepped out 10 feet away to mail a letter. I turned around to see my dog running across a busy parking lot, toward a highway and a supremely self righteous woman holding open my car door. Apparently it’s abusive to leave your dog in a running car for 15 seconds but OK for a stranger to set him free to be run over.

    • MLP

      You should have looked in the car, looked at her and screamed “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY TWO YEAR OLD??” That’ll teach her.

  • Evan

    Regina wins, but I have one that’s not bad, especially since it involves a tremendous amount of irony from the “helpful” stranger.

    It was Pentecost, so I selected a special, fiery organ toccata to play as postlude after the final hymn to celebrate the birthday of the Church. Naturally, the piece ended fairly loudly with passages running up and down the keyboard. The church wasn’t completely full so I eschewed the loudest stops on the organ, but the music was still pretty powerful.
    Once the piece ended, an irate lady shouted from the opposite end of the approx. 250 foot church: “YOU PLAY TOO LOUD.” I didn’t say anything, because I didn’t trust myself to respond charitably. But I thought her shouting from right next to the sanctuary spoke for itself.

  • Melissa Hunter-Kilmer

    Of course, who can compare with Regina? Even her name reminds us that She Is Better Than This. Still, I can think of a few amusing stories.

    There’s the time that the farmer across the fence complained to me that the (renting) horses in my pasture didn’t have enough space and were eating too much of my grass, even though their owners left bales and bales of hay for them 200 feet away. The horses were well fed and didn’t quite understand the problem.

    And there’s the time that the police came to my door because a dog in the neighborhood had been barking for about three minutes, so it had to have been my dogs—who were sleeping inside the house.

    But I think the one that wins in my own life is when I was five months pregnant with #3 and my husband and I came out of church to find that somebody had parked directly behind our car, blocking our way out. The parking lot was only about half-full by the time we got to our car, but I’m sure it was completely full and bursting when the offending car arrived and the driver didn’t realize that there might have been parking spaces in the adjacent residential neighborhood. I mean, come on, wouldn’t you double-park in your wild desperation to get to Mass immediately, because you were already too late to get a real parking spot? And then stay about fifteen minutes after Mass ended, making up for your lateness?

    When the driver finally came out, she was mad at us for being annoyed. She apparently did not think that anybody would ever need to leave church; we could have camped out there with our pre-schooler and toddler, I guess. Her very sarcastic and eye-rolling parting shot: “I’ll pray for you.”

  • Lydia

    A friend of mine was expecting her second baby and had mentioned at a mom’s group thing that she was planning to get an epidural. Later that day, someone helpful left few pamphlets about how epidurals were evil and dangerous and wrong and proof that you didn’t love your baby. And then there was the time when I was nursing the baby after mass at a potluck thing and an elderly pillar of the community type gentleman came up and smiled and said “Well, I see you’ve FINALLY GOT AROUND TO REPRODUCING!” because we only have the two children, five years apart.

    • LiveOaksandSpanishMoss

      Yes, because women should feel as much pain during labor as possible, duh.

  • Karyn

    Are you sure the book is meant to be a rebuke? Perhaps your family was meant to be the equivalent of the blond orphan girl and the harmonica toot? Maybe they thought the book was sweet?

  • The Jerk
  • $50360981

    How rude. There is nothing cruel about managing your dog as you describe. There is nothing inherently cruel about leads. It reminds me of the anonymous note from “a neighbor”, though we think we know who it was, who informed my parents that a certain yard tool was not welcome in their neighborhood. Anonymous … *** hock *** spit *** ptui ***

  • Marchioness Pezzulo

    I don’t have a funny story, but… three weeks ago, I went to Praise and
    Worship on the Franciscan University campus with my two-year-old. I
    don’t usually go to shenanigans on FU’s campus because of how rude the
    students tend to be, but I was with friends and I figured, what the
    heck? We were in the little claustrophobic Eucharistic Chapel with the
    ugly windows. My Rosie ran to the front of the church, plopped herself
    down between the Tabernacle and whatever the altar thing is called if
    it’s never used as an altar, and began pointing at the Crucifix
    proclaiming “Gee-gee!” and “Boo-boos!” and “Toesies!” and basically
    meditating on the wounds of Christ in her own two-year-old way… this
    was while everybody was singing loudly and praying in tongues with their
    eyes closed, so I didn’t see the harm. Rosie wanted to climb under the
    unused altar and play peek-a-boo with me too, which I tried to
    discourage but I couldn’t figure out how to stop her without drawing
    even more attention to her, so I let her sit. She was doing no harm to
    anyone. As for me, I was kneeling by the altar, thrilled that I was
    FINALLY getting a chance to worship Christ in the Eucharist when it was
    noisy enough that no one would object to my baby. It looked like a
    win-win all the way around.
    Well, then a well-dressed young student
    came over and tapped me on the shoulder. I thought she was going to
    compliment my cute baby, but instead she said “She’s being distracting;
    could you please take her out?” I grabbed Rosie and said I’d leave in a
    minute. Then, thirty seconds after the young woman spoke to me, before
    the young woman had a chance to sit back down, an ugly old lady came up
    and said “She’s being distracting. I think you need to take her out.” I
    said “Later,” in an annoyed tone, because 1) it wasn’t true; the whole
    congregation was swaying about with their eyes closed and singing
    loudly. They couldn’t see or hear my daughter. And 2) the old crone
    asked very rudely. If you need to make a request like that, at least be
    polite. The old geezer waggled a finger at me and said “now.” I bellowed
    “None of your business” at the old lady and stormed out in tears.
    be fair, my friends were horrified and said Charismatics never did
    things like that before. But to be equally fair, every time I try to do
    anything with Rosie at Franciscan University of We’re More Pro-Life Than
    Jesus, something like this happens.

    • Laura

      That’s horrible! I’ve taken my babies to Franciscan loads of times and never experienced anything like this. So sorry that they did that to you!

    • MightyMighty1

      People not in babyland don’t have a baby filter, so they get annoyed easily. You probably thought it blended into their racket, but to them, it definitely was like having a toddler run wild. Whenever you think your child’s talking/wandering around is cute, imagine the same behavior from someone your age. People basically expect non-ferral children to be contained by their parents at the same level the parent can be contained. Imagine if anybody else “plopped herself down between the Tabernacle and whatever the altar thing is called if it’s never used as an altar, and began pointing at the Crucifix proclaiming “Gee-gee!” and “Boo-boos!” and “Toesies!” and … wanted to climb under the unused altar and play peek-a-boo.” What everyone saw and heard was you behaving this way.

      It doesn’t sound like anybody else is going to be frank with you, but the fact is you were super disrespectful. To the point that a college kid summoned up the courage to correct a mom. If you are regularly having problems like this, and you say things like, “whatever the altar thing is called if it’s never used as an altar” (justifying letting a toddler play on the altar), “an ugly old lady came up
      and said “She’s being distracting. I think you need to take her out.” I
      said “Later,” in an annoyed tone, because 1) it wasn’t true; the whole
      congregation was swaying about with their eyes closed and singing
      loudly. They couldn’t see or hear my daughter. And 2) the old crone
      asked very rudely. If you need to make a request like that, at least be
      polite. The old geezer waggled a finger at me and said “now.” I bellowed
      “None of your business” at the old lady and stormed out in tears. “(disrespecting a senior, denying the reality that people clearly were being distracted, being aggressive,), you have the problem. Life is goinf to be very hard on everyone around you if you don’t stop acting like God’d gift to mankind. This was so entitled, I thought it was a joke.

      • Marchioness Pezzulo

        I didn’t say anything about the baby being “cute.” And actually, at Franciscan grown men and women are flopping all over the floor all of the time. Christ said “let the little children come unto me” while Saint Paul absolutely forbad the existence of busybodies. I don’t know what your problem is, but you’re the one who’s entitled if you think it’s rude to bring a baby to church.

        • MightyMighty1

          Actually, you did. “I thought she was going to compliment my cute baby.” After the long description of her “toddler meditation” on the wounds of Christ, which you obviously found darling. (And it would have been in the appropriate setting!)

          I really do, in charity, think you need a correction here. Your whole post was nasty about everyone/everything/the church itself, while you and your child are just victims of these jerks who want to focus. If their flopping bothers you, go ahead and ask them to stop.

          I have three kids under five, and we make an effort to train them well/restrain them well when they’re babies/toddlers.

          You are misunderstanding that line of scripture. Christ is valuing children as full human beings (which was what he was correcting–the typical adult perception that children don’t count and ought not to be welcomed into any of the good stuff of life, from the adult table to meeting the rabbi). Do you really, really think that Christ was saying, “Henceforth, let toddlers run wild in sacred spaces without any attempt to train them”? Or “No matter how disruptive they are, let the children stay put in a sacred space”?

          Your post reminded me of my sister’s wedding a few months ago: her new SIL was allowing her children to wander around the altar during the wedding because “oh no, God forbid we restrain a precious child!” The SIL thought it was “so cute” the way her daughter was walking between the bride and groom during the vows, jumping around the dance floor during the first couple dance, tripping the Irish dancers later in the evening, etc. She kept her two-year-old at the head table, screaming his head off, trying to bribe him with dozens of food options, instead of using the amazing kids room with sitters/toys/kid food that had been set up. Not a single person at the table got to enjoy their meal because that was her goal: if I am unhappy with my miserablely tired two-year-old, none of you get to enjoy yourselves.

          For some people, they really think that becoming a parent means that they are more important than everyone else. I try to avoid this sense of entitlement myself: it’s easy to say, “this season of life is hard. All I do is take care of other people and I deserve to have other people give me a break too!” It’s even easier to quickly slide into being obnoxious and judgmental of every other person as: a busybody, “in college”, child-free, having a problem, entitled, and lacking in mercy. (These are things I have been called by you and the commenter above for pointing out that by your own account you sounded like you were the one being disrespectful)

          So therefore, I can conclude, that one cannot say to a parent, “Really, the way you are handling this is not respectful of everyone around you,” without being attacked as a child-hater.

          Time to go take care of my little ones. Just kidding. Today is National Dump Your Kids On The Local Parishoners Day. We’re going to the nearby monastery to celebrate. Maybe some screaming, aisle-running, Cherrio-eating and (thanks for the inspiration) altar-scaling? As long as I get my Jesus face time in, that’s all that counts.

      • ThereseZ

        I’ll bet we’re in college and I’ll bet we’re child-free, aren’t we? Wait until you need mercy, wait until you’re exasperated and worried and exhausted and see how your choice of words and tolerance of behavior changes….
        And I hope a merciful person is around when it happens to you, rather than wish you could run into yourself and experience the last pull the fraying final nerve.

        • MightyMighty1

          Lol, this is perfect: you’re judging me for, in charity, letting someone know that she is coming across as the perp, not the victim. I have three kids under five! I know perfectly well the death glare that some people give to parents for no good reason, or for minor infractions. But I pointed out that the author is picking on everyone around her for being silly, old, ugly, too well-dressed, etc, claiming they can’t hear/see her baby when 100% of the evidence (the complaints) suggests that they CAN, that she’s trying to pretend the altar isn’t sacred so that it’s not a big deal for her child to be playing under it during church, etc. I know parents like this and their child can do no wrong and “if those annoying people trying to enjoy their $5 latte are annoyed that some parents decided to host a noisy playdate in a coffee house, well they just need to get over it because I have kids and I’m more important than everyone else, therefore.” It never occurs to them that people are actually entitled to enjoy relative peace and quiet in some locales. Not everything is a Gymboree flop house.

          Being a parent does not excuse any of us from trying our best to not burden everyone around us with our poorly behaved children/selves.

          As someone with a form of hearing loss that makes background noise much easier to hear than the actual conversation/Mass, it is a nightmare to be around people who think everyone wants to hear them yap on the phone, or loudly soothspeak to a baby, or to crinkle cellophane wrappers during movies/Mass.

  • MLP

    Closest thing I have to this actually happened to my husband, who works in higher ed in a public institution. A young coworker came to his office for some reason, saw the photo of our four beautiful, smart, talented children and regaled my husband on the irresponsibiltiy of reproducing more than replacement level. To this day, I can’t imagine how hard the Holy Spirit must have worked to prevent my husband from throwing that young man out the window. I will add that my fiery tempered husband’s rebuttal of that young man’s opinion was such that the mouthy little brat was never seen on that part of campus again.

    • Anna

      I debated posting something like this, since someone I had barely met jumped into a conversation (with someone who knew my brothers and so we were establishing how many siblings there were and which ones he knew) to say that four kids were too many and no one should have more than two. That was two weeks ago. I saw the person again last night and he actually came up to me (and my three kids) and said he owed me an apology for his comments since he didn’t realize I already had three. So now my “interfering stranger story” turned into a “wow, I’m very pleasantly surprised he had the grace to apologize! I guess you never know about people” story.

  • Sheila C.

    This isn’t funny so much as just upsetting, but here goes…

    My kids are 3 and 1. They love to play by themselves in the fenced front yard. I don’t know why they don’t like me to be out there with them, but they don’t and we live in a neighborhood where four-year-olds ride down the street on scooters without an adult in sight, so I just watch through the window.

    One day it was pouring rain and they wanted to hang out on the porch and put buckets under the gutters so they could play in the water. I let them, and watched through the window because I didn’t care to get soaked. Well, not ten minutes later, TWO squad cars pulled up. I bounced to the door in quite a rush (my 3yo freaks out when strangers come into the yard) and met the policeman. He said, “Oh, I see you’re watching them. No problem. We just got a 911 call from one of your neighbors, so we had to make sure.”

    I could see my across-the-street neighbor staring at me through his screen door as the cops drove away. Gee. Thanks. Now I’m afraid to ever let my kids play anymore.

  • Aimee

    I was 4 weeks postpartum at the grocery store with my firstborn son. After a long wait in the checkout line, my son grew hungry, impatient, and began to scream frantically in his infant carrier perched on the shopping cart. I checked out as quickly as possible, but as I was paying, the 6o-something, Heehaw-haired cashier from the next station over reached over and said, “Ooh, he must be so hungry — you’re okay, sweetie-pie!” and STUCK HER FINGER IN HIS MOUTH to suck on. A STRANGE CASHIER’S FINGER! Now, 4 kids later, I totally understand the impulse to help when a new mom is struggling, but at the time I was shocked speechless. It still makes me shudder…

  • Eileen

    I have two stories about busybody strangers – they’re not really even funny and they’re certainly nothing compared to Regina’s who wins this contest hands down.
    Back when my second child was 7 months old and my oldest was 2, we had a German Shepherd. My second child became life threateningly ill and was in and out of Childrens Hospital for a few months. After one of my son’s discharges, he was on a schedule of meds that made me have to dose him every 30 minutes to every hour and a half. I was overwhelmed and exhausted and I put the dog in his cage on the back porch. In the middle of the afternoon. He barked for 7 minutes straight and the old lady who lives behind me called the police. The police came to my front door and it was all I could do not to cry. They could’ve taken that dog right then and there and at that point I wouldn’t have cared. But the cops couldn’t have been nicer – don’t worry about it – we’ll explain things to her, they said. I couldn’t believe how nice they were being – I knew the dog was being obnoxious. A couple of months later I was in my backyard and I noticed an open window on the old lady’s second floor. And then I saw squirrels running from a tree into her house. I then see the old lady giving them food. I’m guessing I’m not the first animal owner that lady’d called the cops on.
    My second story is only amusing to my husband and me in that it shows how far we’ve come. We had a 15 year old car which had rusted all the way through on the floor in the backseat. My husband only took it on the four minute ride to the train station, the car looked like hell, but its engine was a little workhorse. When it was due for inspection, the guy said no way I can pass this car without a couple of thousand in repairs. No way we had that kind of money so my husband just continued to drive it uninspected. One weekend my husband and I were blacktopping the driveway so we parked the car in the street. 10 minutes after putting it there, the cops drove up and said we had a report of an abandoned vehicle – and slapped a big orange sticker on the car. Stupid neighbors – always worried about their property values. :).

    • Eileen

      I’m afraid my post shows not only what a lousy neighbor I am, but a lousy commenter.
      Paragraphs are my friend!

  • Natalie

    My mom and I had been taking my two year old son to daily Mass every once in a while to try to get him accustom to being at church. My goal was to try once a week. (Yes, I know my hubby & shouldn’t rely quite as heavily on the nursery as we have been. We are works in progress. Pray for us.) Well one particularly hot summer day he was a little vocal and got the courage to run up the aisle a few times. I was 8 months pregnant at the time. My mom and I did our best to corral him and distract him but we weren’t always that successful. It was a small church and there was no cry room, no basement, a busy street out the door and only my very hot car to retreat to. At one point during the Homily (the homily mind you not the consecration) he escaped my grasp in the back and ran up the center aisle calling for “Meme (my mom)” As I waddled after him a dozen elderly people turned to glare at him/us and hiss “Shhhh!” Later when I went up for Communion, the Eucharistic Minister glared/sneered at me, tossed the Body of Christ in my mouth and didn’t give my son a blessing (which clearly he needed, right?) 😉 Other than that I considered the episode to be a mild success, at least for my son.

    Well the next day my mom told me one of the old ladies complained to the priest that she found my son distracting at Mass. It was a Mass said in honor of a deceased loved one. I guess she called the rectory to complain then asked for my Mom’s number but since they didn’t have it they gave her my Mom’s friend’s number who is a EM there. The lady left a message asking for my mom’s number. I don’t know what the priest’s thoughts were or what he said to that lady. I’m just glad the lady never got a hold of my mother because boy would she have had words for her!