Anger Makes You Stupid

Several years ago, we adopted our Australian Shepherd, Rio, from a local shelter. One year old Rio was of the anxious, energetic, vociferous variety of canine. He had taken great pains to hone his gift of gab, and had, what you may call, a “sending bark.” Meaning it sounded like someone held a bullhorn to his mouth. He needed training which we underwent vigorously (so what if he failed obedience school?), and soon he settled into our family nicely.

Then we decided to adopt a goat. The day we brought her home, Rio went berserk. For about 24 minutes, he barked non-stop. This took place on a weekday at about 10:11 am. At the same time, gardeners mowed, horses whinnied, and children yelled in gleeful play. It was not exactly the quiet hour in the ‘hood. Little did I know that a neighbor thought it high time to write us a memorable letter. She left it in our mailbox.   

This letter was of the nasty, angry, “what the hell’s the matter with you?” sort. She poured forth every possible complaint about the flagrant display of noise which we willfully permitted. We were rude, thoughtless, inconsiderate, and out-of-control. Next time she’d call the police and our dog would be confiscated. By the way, the letter was unsigned.

I was furious. With a little detective work, I discovered who she was (it helped that another neighbor kept one eye on the street at all times). I wrote back a note in kind, accusing her of a lack of understanding, rudeness and unmitigated cowardice in hiding behind the mask of anonymity.

After I thought for a few minutes, I ripped up both letters. She made me angry. Was I trying to see just how high I could raise her ire? How much sense did that make? We weren’t bulls in a ring. Not me, anyhow. 

I wrote the kindest letter back to her that I could muster. I apologized profusely explaining that Rio was a rescue dog and needed plenty of help and patience. I added that, had we not adopted him, he would have been the dearly, departed Rio (truly). I tried to paint her a clear picture of where she was aiming her fury.

I received a second note from her immediately. Guess what? She was a changed person. She apologized for her haste and told me how wonderful it was that I communicated with her. She promised to be more understanding. And this time, she signed her letter. We never had a problem with her again.

Anytime a person reacts before seeking understanding of a matter, sheer stupidity has played a starring role. Character is defined by one’s reaction to a situation. If I had sent my original letter, you know what category I would have fallen in: the stupid one. My anger would have festered, making me unhappy; further furious correspondence would have likely taken place, and there would have been no mercy from this neighbor had Rio engaged in another barkfest.

Ten years later, and all is well. A little thought can go a long way.

Keep thinking!


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.