Cozy Tales: 14: Door-to-Door

Living in rural New Jersey was wonderful, but there were some drawbacks that may not be obvious to those who live in more urban areas. For example, we lived in our house for 12 years before there was a pizza shop that would deliver. We couldn’t walk anywhere since the nearest store was four miles away and there were no sidewalks. Children didn’t walk to school, and many had to sit on the bus for 40 minutes or more every morning and afternoon. The benefits, though, were many; clean air, plenty of trees, and perhaps most important to me, we couldn’t see any of our neighbor’s houses except in the winter when all the leaves had fallen from the trees. This seclusion also seemed to preclude most anyone from visiting unannounced. Usually. 

One clear June day, the dogs sounded the alarm as someone knocked on the door. This was a pretty unusual occurrence in our neck of the woods, so it was worthy of the ruckus. I tend to be of the mind that anyone who knocks on my door is coming to kill us all, whereas Lauren believes that everyone in the world should be welcomed into our home for tea and crumpets. Actually, I don’t think either of us has ever had or even seen a crumpet, and if someone were to come to kill us all under the ruse of delivering tea and crumpets I’m sure I would err on the side of caution, ability to identify a proper crumpet notwithstanding.

I had recently installed a large peep-hole in the door, but all my measuring hadn’t taken into consideration the fact that Lauren was a great deal shorter than I was or that when someone knocked on the door that there would be almost 300 pounds of barking dog in the way. Thus, the peephole was useless under most circumstances.

As I opened the door, both dogs tried to bolt outside to attack (or more likely slobber) the intruders. I opened the door about a foot wide, then jammed my foot into the base, thus “locking” the open door wide enough to accommodate Newfy heads but not Newfy shoulders. It was actually quite the effect, though I never could figure out how they managed to get their heads in a vertical pile like that.

Imagine being outside our country home and knocking on the door. You hear the boomy WOOF WOOF WOOF of multiple large dogs after which the door opens a bit and the dogs appear to rush out with you as their target. For that split second what do you think? What do you feel? My guess would be fear. Even if you like dogs, and even if you know that there are two dopey, friendly, slobbering, carpet-hounds inside, the sight of both of them rushing you from the safety of their lair has to be a bit disconcerting.

The door stopped the assault, and somehow Cozy and Daisy both got their heads out of the door – Cozy on top where the alpha belonged and Daisy taking the bottom duty. Trying to be heard above the din of constant kill the zombies! barking, I looked out the door and said, “Hello?”

I saw two people dressed in white shirts and ties and holding books take a step back in perfect unison, never taking their eyes off of the dogs. Now, I can’t speak for anyone else’s religious beliefs, but I have to think that if I were in their shoes at that moment I’d probably be praying for nothing more elaborate than a fervent desire for the door to hold. These people had no way of knowing that the biggest risk they had from our big black beasts was slobber ruining their pants but I could see that they were uncomfortable, nonetheless.

I have no problem with anyone believing anything they’d like, so long as they don’t try to enforce or sell those beliefs to me. Still, I have no desire to harm or scare people, even though I do like the idea that people would think twice about coming to the house occupied by a crazy guy that has big black dogs.

I asked again over the barking wall of loud slobbering dogs while my foot struggled to hold the door, “Hello?”

One of them finally looked up at me and said something about wanting to learn more about something or other. It was hard to hear with all the racket.

I asked in reply “I’d love to talk to you, but in order to do so, I’ll need to open the door. Are you OK with that?” It wasn’t a threat, and it wasn’t meant to scare anyone, though I realize in retrospect that it might have been taken that way. Both of them replied “No thank you”, then turned and quickly retreated to the car that they had parked in my driveway.

Once they left, I was able to get the dogs’ heads back in the door since they no longer had something outside on which to focus their energies. I kind of felt bad that I had scared them off, but in the many years since we have never had anyone come to the house selling anything again.

We had similar issues with UPS, Fedex and any other delivery company. It didn’t take long before packages would be left on our front doorstep even if they required a signature. Most times they wouldn’t even ring the bell for fear of sounding the big dog alarm. Of course the only time they wouldn’t leave a package was when I really wanted it and wasn’t home because that’s how my life works. The likelihood that something I’ve ordered will be delivered quickly has always been inversely proportional to how much I want to receive it.

I was starting to wonder how many databases had us tagged House has two huge dogs – best to avoid. I suppose that was better than House is occupied by hat-wearing, zombie-fearing, gun-toting maniac – best to avoid. Actually, either was was fine with me so long as people left us alone.

The excitement over and the zombie invasion repelled, the dogs went back to their naps, no doubt dreaming of sticks in need of rescue.

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