When my ducks were attacked by a Jack Russell last month, I put up fliers and spread the word throughout the neighborhood (which is mostly made up of our ward members) that we were looking for the owners of the dog. We ended up with a very substantial vet bill we thought they needed to be aware of since it was actually their responsibility. The dog was caught in the act, but I was more concerned about getting her the hell out of the enclosure that I didn't think twice about opening up the door and letting it out. It had no collar but once it was out I made sure to photograph exactly what it looked like in my mind as it trotted happily away, quite proud of the mess it had made of my pets.
I was left very sweet notes of condolence on the fence of the enclosure, approached with inquiries at church and called several times by various people with leads when they found dogs they thought might fit the bill. I even had two other owners of Jack Russells stop by the house to see if their dog was the culprit. Neither of which were. After five weeks we had all but given up and figured we'd just have to eat the vet bill from the two who actually survived and also live on knowing that this bird killer was still out there with the potential to strike again - even though we've taken extensive and painstaking measures to further secure the enclosure.
Then the elusive bandit was finally found! By some of our dearest friends, no less. They used their super-stealthy spy skills to follow the people home when they spotted them out on a walk with the dog in question and immediately called us with the information we were so desperate to collect. Being positively petrified of all the nasty things I knew I might say if I confronted them directly, we called up Animal Control to let them know we finally tracked down the dog and had an actual address. We'd initially filed a report, but the dog was long gone by the time the officer arrived. Quite unremarkably, it was found later that same day trying to break into another neighbor's chicken coop. After talking to Animal Control we figured that if nothing else, these people would at least know what kind of animal they have on their hands, get a collar and a license on her and take the necessary measures to keep her from getting loose again. All the while I'd been keeping a copy of Utah Code 18-1-3 close at hand, which gives me the right to put the damn thing out of my misery should it ever come near my animals again.
The following day though, we got a knock on our door. When Dave came and told me it was one of the dog's owners I was filled with so many emotions that I near about shut down completely right then and there. It was all I could do to make my feet move me to that door for the long-awaited confrontation that had happened a dozen different ways (all bad) in my head up to that point. I have to tell you that even all of the amazing and dedicated support and help we received from a multitude of people we live in close proximity to throughout this ordeal, did nothing to emotionally prepare me for what awaited me on that doorstep. If you've ever seen an outpouring of true remorse from one of your fellowmen, you've seen one of the miracles possible within human nature. Even more heart-rending when directed at you personally. I'd spent over a month of unrest from the feelings of anger towards these complete strangers that I simply couldn't will away and in an instant found myself filled with sorrow for this woman joining in mine. I had wanted her to feel bad about what had happened, but once I saw that she did, all I wanted to do was take away her pain.
We talked and sorted through some things and learned more about each others' circumstances, ultimately reaching that would-be awkward point of how to make it right. I told her about the bill and without hesitation she gave me her address and told me that they would take care of it. In the end, I think we were both grateful for each others' reactions. As difficult as it was for me, I can't even imagine how hard knocking on our door must have been. I have a newfound understanding of the saying that showing up is half the battle. For me I know it would have been almost all of it! Dave can attest to that as he has had to drag me kicking and screaming to do some things over the years that I knew I needed to but absolutely didn't want to do. Yes, literal kicking and screaming. Toss a few folded arms and foot stomps in there too for good measure.
That woman (yes, I now know her name, but will just keep it completely anonymous) taught me a great deal about myself as well as the potential we all have. And as for my dear friends and neighbors, I am not nearly eloquent enough to express my love and gratitude for them. Instead, I'll do my best to live by and up to all these wonderful examples I'm surrounded by.