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There is only one success--to be able to spend your life in your own way.-Christopher Morley
The Magnificent Creature
By David
Posted April 10, 2012

It was eleven years ago, almost to the day, since we purchased our previous home. The Good Boy was just a few days old when I carried him into that house, all bundled up, in a car seat. It was one of the very first places that Beautiful Eema went to since giving birth, and she looked at the empty foyer trying to visualize what life would be like in that house. I remember seeing her walk through the house while I stayed with the Good Boy who was happily napping in his plaid-blue colored car seat on the shiny marble floor of the foyer.

Eleven years later, as we prepare to close on the sale of that house, we know that things turned out very well for our family there. The Good Boy already wears a size Men's Small shirt and he's nearly as tall as Beautiful Eema. His sister, who wasn't even born when we moved into that house, is now a young lady. But, at the time, we were standing at one of life's crossroads, full of uncertainty and doubt.

The first week in that house was very different from our former existence. We were still getting accustomed to having all of the additional space, while trying to figure out how best to set up our baby in his new room.

But there was a particular incident that happened that first week, which still comes to mind more than a decade later.

Enter: The Villain

He had an uncanny resemblance to the Chihuahua in the Taco Bell commercials
He had an uncanny resemblance to the Chihuahua in the Taco Bell commercials

Our block was a double cul-de-sac ringed by similar Mediterranean-style houses, each with its driveway and carefully manicured front lawn. It was really the epitome of an idyllic suburban block.

Then, one late afternoon, I set out for an evening walk with the Good Boy who was in a stroller, and Beautiful Eema by my side, when suddenly we came face to face with our pinched-faced nemesis and his partner in crime.

He, a small, brown Chihuahua of a dog, off-leash, weighing in at about 8 lbs. of hardened criminal, followed by a brown-eyed eleven year-old girl wearing a pink tank top. Upon sizing up the infernal duo, I could immediately discern their roles. He was the ring-leader and mastermind, while she was a hapless minion serving as the lookout.

Just as I suspected, the canine crime lord selected the scene of his next crime spree, and sprinted onto our property, hopping through the space in between the bars of our side gate and into our backyard where he carried out his dastardly deed. He was gone in 60 seconds, instantly back with the girl who quickly grabbed his leash and ran back to her house at the corner of the block at speeds approximating an Olympic runner on five cups of coffee.

As I approached the scene of the crime in our back yard, there was the irrefutable evidence -- a small pile of Chihuahua poop.

I stood there incredulously, first pondering the sheer nerve of the girl, and then the considerable awkwardness of my inevitable discussion with my brand-new neighbors. A fine introduction, indeed: Yep, here I am, your new neighbor, nice to meet you, sort of, now about the dog poop that's being deposited in my backyard by your hound-of-hell and guilty-beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt eleven-year-old daughter...

Well, the discussion was beyond awkward, just as I had expected. The parents basically refused to do a thing about it although, they "didn't condone it." I just shook my head trying to make sense of this much wackiness so soon after moving into our first big real-estate investment, and I left without further ado.

As the first week at our new home wore on, I learned that the canine arch-villain was named Harley, and that he was an equal opportunity pooper on all the neighbors' backyards. Lawn or concrete, Harley showed no mercy whatsoever.

Howard Knows Best

Just about that time, I had a discussion with my next door neighbor, an older gentleman named Howard, probably in his early 70s. He was a particularly sociable, good-natured fellow, and I thought of him and his wife as one of the ultimately successful retired couples living the good life. On that particular occasion, though, I expressed to him my great displeasure with the neighbor's dog, curious as to his perspective.

I guess I expected him to be just as appalled as I was with having our front lawns and back yards regularly raided by the Chihuahuan villain. But, instead, Howard's response took me by total surprise.

"Sure I know that dog," he said. "His name is Harley. A magnificent creature!"

"A magnificent creature???" I asked in total shock.

"Yeah. Isn't he magnificent?"

I just stood there and looked at Howard, silent for lack of words. In my book, any dog who poops on my lawn isn't exactly magnificent. As a matter of fact the only "magnificent" image that came to my mind at that particular moment was that of Harley flying somewhere over the rainbow as I punt him for a field goal.

But as the seconds of silence stretched on and on, it finally dawned on me: Howard and his wife were just as concerned about the appearance and cleanliness of their property as I was, and there is no way that he didn't mind finding daily dog piles on his lawn.

But instead of creating a confrontation with the neighbors, Howard simply rationalized it and took a positive view of the situation. The truth is that the dog was a sharp-looking purebred specimen and it wasn't his fault that his masters didn't control him properly.

But, better yet, Howard's point of view eliminated any resentment and maintained good relations between him and the offending neighbors.

"Yeah, Magnificent," I mumbled. "You're a good man, Howard."

I should really thank him all these years later for the magnificent lesson I learned from him that day. Maybe I will do so sometime in the future.

Epilogue

As for Harley, the magnificent creature met his sad demise one day as a Screeching Owl swooped down on him and carried him away from his own back yard. That's what a neighbor told me about a year after this incident. I personally think it must have been a Red Tailed Hawk, a species which is native to this part of Southern California and is known to carry away small pets that are left outdoors unattended. Sad and bizarre, but true. R.I.P Harley.

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