There is a saying. “No good deed goes unpunished” When I was younger, I never fully understood that saying. “How can you be punished for doing a good deed?” I used to think. Naturally, as I got older, the sentiment behind the saying became all too apparent. Last night was a case in point.
Around 8 p.m. last night, my husband and I decided that, since neither of us felt like cooking anything, we’d have a walk to the local pita house and get a takeaway. It was a cold night – around 1°C when we left the house – but since the pita house is only approximately a 15 minute walk, we thought that the fresh air would do us good.
We walked barely one street from our house (we live semi-rurally and so the streets here are rather small), when we noticed a dog. It was a lovely King Charles Spaniel; a happy, friendly, bouncy little thing that we recognised at once, primarily because on two separate occasions we have found the dog out on the street and taken it back to its owner. The first time we took it back, a couple of our neighbours said they had seen it out overnight (none of them had bothered to try and take it in or get it back home), yet when we returned it, the owner seemed blissfully unaware that his dog was missing. The second time – which was just a few weeks later – the owner apologised, said he realised the dog was missing, and was just about to start looking for her. We told him then that he needed to take more care of the dog. The roads may be small where we live, but that doesn’t stop some people driving too fast along them. We have sadly lost one of our cats on the road here. The dog’s owner said he would take more care.
So, last night, with the lovely happy, bouncy little dog in my arms, we knocked on the owner’s front door. The conversation went like this:
“Excuse me,” my husband said, “but your dog is out again”
“Yes, I know” he replied. He couldn’t have been more blasé if he tried.
“Well, with all due respect, this is the third time that we’ve had to bring your dog back to you”
“Well, if you find it a fourth time you can kill her”
“I beg your pardon?” I said. I was sure I must have misheard him.
“I said if you find her a fourth time you can kill her” He saw my expression and the fact that I was now holding the dog tighter. “I’m joking”
“You shouldn’t make jokes like that. I don’t appreciate someone talking about killing their dog. Not even in jest”
“Why do we keep finding your dog on the street?” my husband asked.
“Why? Because I can’t afford a fence or a gate”
“Well then you need to keep her inside”
“I do keep her inside, but if someone comes in she gets out”
“I’m not trying to have a go at you, but if she’s out on the street she could get hit by a car”
“She’s already been hit by a car once. Her leg was broken. So she’s been warned”
“What do you mean ‘she’s been warned’? She’s a dog! You are responsible for her. Don’t you realise that if she’s out on the street and she gets hit by a car, you could lose her”
“Then she’s gone” he shrugged.
“You don’t care?” I demanded.
At this point, a car pulled into the driveway and a young couple got out. The young guy said he was the dog’s owner’s nephew. Thinking that we may have been getting crossed purposes, we explained to the guy’s nephew and his girlfriend about the dog and he said he understood what we meant and explained to his uncle. As he took the dog from us, my husband said, “We’ll leave it like this, but if we find your dog out again, we’ll get the police to bring it back”
At that point, at the mention of the police, the young guy’s demeanour changed completely. He became very aggressive and threatening, telling us to get off the property (we were leaving and were almost off the driveway). Now on the public street, he got right up in my husband’s face and was yelling and swearing at him. My husband is not a big man, but neither is he easily intimidated, and so he stood his ground. I meanwhile, told the guy that I was now calling the police. I did.
The guy’s girlfriend managed to drag him away and into the house, while we waited on the street for the police to arrive. It’s important to note that at no point did we set foot back on their property. However, five minutes later, he was back out of the house, demanding that we left. I pointed out that we were standing on a public road and so consequently, he could not tell us to leave. In fact, we had every right to stand where we were as we were waiting for the police. His girlfriend now came out of the house again and asked if we had indeed called the police, or if I meant that I was going to. I told her that I had called them and that they were on their way. The look of fear that flashed across her face told me that it was highly likely that either her or her boyfriend were known to the police. Again, she dragged him away, back onto the property. A couple of minutes later and the two of them drove off in the car they had arrived in.
My husband and I waited 45 minutes, in the now freezing cold, for the police to arrive. When I called them back, they said that someone would come, but that they were busy and so it would take a while! When I told them that the guy who was threatening us had driven off, they said – and I quote – “Then it’s better that you go to a police station tomorrow morning and make a complaint there. There’s no point in us coming if he’s not there” So much for Belgian law and order!
With no other choice, we carried on our walk, though neither of us felt hungry any more. We are now debating whether to make a complaint to the police or not. The fact that none of the three people we encountered last night appeared to be completely stable, leaves me fearing that if the police do happen to knock on his door, one of them may end up taking their anger/frustration out on the dog. And then I would never forgive myself.
No good deed goes unpunished…but it won’t stop me doing them.