Quiet Desperation

Safeguarding others is the leashed you can do

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Large dark dog, running unleashed through front yards, zoomed to the greenbelt trail and out of sight.

Way behind, dog’s owner lopes along.

Small child on her first bicycle encounters the dog, is frightened, falls off her bicycle and is seriously injured.

Father rushes up, spots the owner, an argument ensues.

Unattended dog runs to the other end of the greenbelt and into the street.

High school girl taking a driving lesson with her father runs over and kills dog.

The argument on the greenbelt escalates into a fistfight.

The daughter screams in pain and fear, watching her father being beaten by the dog’s owner.

Fortunately, only sentences one and two actually happened.

Unfortunately, we’ve already had one unhappy ending on the block.

Loose dog attacked a neighbor’s dog. The neighbor’s dog had to be taken to the Emergency Center. She survived. The attacker dog was euthanized.

“Dogs must be on a leash when off the owner’s property except when walking in a designated off-leash area.”

Of course, regulations are restrictive, just like the ones about masks and social distancing.

With people dying left and right and riots and protests ongoing, an unleashed dog here and there doesn’t seem like much.

And maybe it isn’t as long as no one gets hurt.

Unless you’re the perpetrator or someone who’s immensely tolerant, it’s one more thing in a year of things. Maybe you’ve noticed your tolerance for failures in civility and common sense has diminished in 2020?

There’s a dog that’s let out at night and yaps about the time I’m writing or painting.

And yaps.

The yap is piercing; it penetrates walls — solid walls — and enters my eardrums like darts.

These are, mostly, little things. But an accumulation of little things can become a problem.

Richard Carlson beat me to it. He’s the author of “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff ... and It’s All Small Stuff.” It was published in 1997.

It spent over 101 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list.

In December 2005, on his way to promote “Don’t Get Scrooged: How to Thrive in a World Full of Obnoxious, Incompetent, Arrogant and Downright Mean-Spirited People” he suffered a pulmonary embolism on a flight from San Francisco to New York. Age 45.

There is “small stuff” everywhere.

Unless someone isn’t paying attention, there are at least “Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door.”

That’s the subtitle of Lynn Truss’ book “Talk to the Hand.” It was published (2005) long before COVID-19; none of the six, therefore, is related.

Quoting from it would only depress me — and you too. I bought it knowing it would only deepen my existing grievances.

That’s called “confirmation bias.” While it is reaffirming, it generally leads to a limited view of things.

Truss has a sense of humor, so her complaints about the “apparent collapse of civility” are both insightful and entertaining.

Unless you’re one of the perpetrators.

The thought of becoming a perpetrator myself has crossed my mind. Why bother with respect and civility?

There’s a free range dachshund in the neighborhood. He’s a cute, skinny little guy.

Every time I see him, unleashed, dashing from yard to yard and his too-cool owner walking behind, I’m angered.

Why? Because we also have unleashed drivers.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.

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