By Teal Turner Young
I confess that I often complain about my neighbors. I worry about home values and wring my hands over the volume of noisy dogs and air compressors, unpulled weeds and unfriendliness. But on a recent Sunday, while escorting my daughter on her dog-walking job, an incident taught me that I have a better neighbor than I deserve.
We had walked to the corner of Gymkhana Road and Del Amo when straight through a loose board in a wooden fence came 55 pounds of dog apparently determined to take on Siggy, the schnauzer who thinks he is bigger than his 12 pounds. We began a slow waltz of trying to keep the two dogs apart with me calling out for the owner to “Come get your dog!” Things were not looking so good for the schnauzer, my daughter and me.
All of a sudden I see another neighbor sitting in his car, pointing to the fence, and there was a man lying on the ground in agony. Two teenage boys stood half a block away with their hands in their pockets.
With no assistance, I did what I had to do: I reached out and grabbed the 55-pound dog by the back of his collar and marched him back to the house he came from as fast as I could move him and me.
I am no stranger to big dogs, dog training and how to act with aggressive dogs, although I am not qualified to do what I did. I would never recommend what I did to anyone.
I got lucky that the dog responded to my no-nonsense approach and minded me once I got his attention away from the little dog, but dogs are unpredictable in the best of circumstances and this was the worst of circumstances.
Thankfully my neighbor Jennifer opened the door to her garage and we sequestered “Chestnut” quickly and got busy calling the paramedics for her husband, Peter, who I just learned, upon hearing me call out for the owner, thought I meant “Jump over your 6-foot fence.”
Such is the man my neighbor Peter is. Chestnut came to him upon the death of his sister. He and Jennifer took responsibility for re-homing a pet they knew was not a good fit for their household out of respect for his sister’s memory. Peter tried his best to take responsibility for his dog, but landed too hard on the ground when he tried to fly over his fence to help us.
He ended up with bone grafts, two plates and 20 pins between his tibia and ankle. For my Super Hero, “no good deed goes unpunished” that day and all the days he will spend out of work and recuperating from this horrible accident of good intentions.
Now I would like to find help for Peter and Jennifer Decola. As a dog lover, and one who has been in their position with an inherited pet, I really would like to help them find a home for Chestnut, the mastiff/American pit bull terrier mix.
Chestnut does not do well with cats, Peter says, but he gets along with other dogs.
I can personally vouch; an experienced person and some future training can make Chestnut into a great dog for a good-sized piece of fenced land with some gophers and ground squirrels to dispatch. My pit bull enthusiast friends tell me that part of him just wants to please you, and from what I experienced I believe it now. He was not in the least interested in hurting me or my daughter during our unfortunate encounter. He obeyed me, the reluctant handler, as if he were my own practically perfect German shepherd dog. I hope we can find him the life he deserves.
Please contact me with offers of adoption for my friend, Chestnut. My phone is 760-789-7572 and I will get it all to my good neighbors, the Decolas.
Thanks again, Peter. You may not be Superman, but you are a Superperson.
Teal Turner Young is a Ramona resident.