The other night, I went for a walk to visit my parents. I stayed for dinner and then walked back home. On my way over, I walked past a house where there was a small yappy dog in the front yard and, of course, it yapped its little head off at me as I walked past. This is a common enough occurrence in the neighbourhood that it doesn’t really faze me, but it was what happened on the way back that got me thinking.
As I turned the corner and headed up the same street where the little dog lived, I decided to cross the road in hopes of not antagonising the poor thing by my very existence. As I approached its abode, however, I noticed that there was a vehicle parked outside with its headlights still on, and, of course, that little dog was yapping away.
Probably a delivery person or a visitor of some sort, I thought as I approached. Surely it was someone who was not staying long, someone the dog wasn’t familiar with. In a sense, I was right.
As I got closer, I realised that the vehicle was actually an ambulance. What I had thought were headlights were actually lights at the top of the ambulance for illuminating the surrounding area (presumably to allow safe passage of the patient from their home to the ambulance). As I passed by, I glanced over, and caught a brief glimpse of three people in the front room of the small house. It didn’t seem like a critically urgent emergency, but it’s hard to discern these things from a mere glance.
And all this time, as I walked past, the dog never stopped barking.
I just kept walking, hoping that the person was ok, and thinking how distressed the poor dog must be. At the end of the street, I turned the corner. It was a gloriously cold night, so I decided to take a small detour which would take me down the street parallel to the small dog’s street — essentially the next block.
I can’t remember if my mind was wandering a lot that night or if it was relatively blank, but as I walked down the parallel street, I realised that I could hear the dog again. Suddenly it struck me that this dog, barking incessantly, was loud enough for so many houses around it to hear.
Well, it wasn’t terribly loud on the parallel street, and perhaps if you were inside with the windows closed (which they probably would be, to keep out the cold air), it might not be so noticeable; but I thought surely the residents of houses closer to the epicentre would be able to hear it.
I wondered if these residents were maybe trying to concentrate on something or trying to sleep, and I wondered if they were feeling disgruntled by all the commotion. At the very least, they were probably wondering why the owner wasn’t attending to their dog.
But these thoughts and feelings would likely happen with no idea of what was going on.
It all reminds me of this TED article I read last month about anger management. The article, written by Lauren Schenkman, is about the work of psychology professor Ryan Martin. It delves into the thoughts that people tend to have when they are angry, and gives suggestions for how to correct maladaptive thought patterns. An interesting read, particularly in these times of unrest.