Never jump to a quick (and incorrect) conclusion

Delighted to welcome another guest post from Colette Bytes.

Back on June 5th, I published the first of three parts of a guest post from Colette. It was called Spot and Me and was a gorgeous (true) account of how Colette trained little Spot when she was dog-sitting for a week. If you missed it then go no further than dropping across to the first part of Colette’s story.

It was beautifully written as well as offering real, solid advice as to how to train a dog that is being a tad challenging. You all loved it!

Well, speaking of beautifully written stories from Colette, here’s another one!

ooOOoo

Always Think Twice

by Colette Bytes, June 15th, 2018.

We all have the ability to make snap ‘first impressions.’
For instance, we say things like, ‘ I knew right from the moment I met him/her…

But are we correct?

Experience often makes us callous and judgemental. Let’s face it, we all have a tendency to think negatively in certain conditions.

Such is the case with Spain’s numerous beggars. They camp out where they are likely to encounter the most foot-traffic, so one can expect two or three of them outside most supermarket entrances. They are not allowed to harass people but they do often intimidate store visitors with looks, gestures, and often cardboard signs in English (to capture the attention and guilty consciences of tourists).

If I gave to every beggar that I see, (and I have occasionally been accosted physically in car-parking lots), I would feel duped by professionals run by the Mafia. There are such people. But once in a while, I do a double-take and think again.

Such was the case one morning. The beggar was an elderly gentleman, unshaved, unkempt and sitting with a young Italian Greyhound tied with a rope. Dogs are often present with beggars, some misused for the purpose.

As my husband and I drew level, the unkempt man said: “Good morning to you!” in a very eloquent manner, and in perfect English. I smiled and thanked him. My husband whispered as we went through the door, “Don’t encourage them!” But I felt different about the man and wanted to do something.

While my husband went in search of the items he wanted, I went to the pet aisle and chose a ring-pull opening tin of dog food and a packet of dental sticks. It amounted to about five euros. I put them in my husband’s shopping basket so he could pay for them as I had no money on me. “What are those for?” He said, (frowning because he already knew). “I’m going to give them to the man outside.” My hubby was angry, but didn’t argue, he knows that it was useless to try and intimidate me. “You are too soft,” he muttered to the air.

I took the doggy stuff out while my hubby packed up our groceries. I handed them over to the grateful man, who thanked me kindly. He opened up a bag next to him to put my gifts into it. The bag held a bowl (for the dog), a big bottle of water and other foodstuffs for them both as well as a towel. He closed it again saying, “I just fed her, so she can have these later!”

The dog sat quietly. I held out my hand and asked her name. She was still a puppy and bounced up to my hand, licking it and dancing around, tangling herself up in the rope the man was using to restrain her. “I have named her Bella. She’s still young; ’bout six months I think. I found her a few days ago on a building site – stray, like most of them. Very hungry.”

The dog was thin, thinner than even her breed dictated. She had the most gorgeous eyes. “She’s still learning how to behave with people, sorry!” His apology wasn’t necessary.

“How long have you been in Spain? ” I asked. “Forty years,” came his reply.
“Goodness, how did you end up here?” I was a bit shocked!

As he fussed the little dog, the man proceeded to tell me a sorry tale. He had lived here with his wife in a nice (if illegally built) house with a thriving business moving residents belongings between Spain and the UK. His business was doing so well that he took on a partner to manage the financial side, and travel and storage arrangements.

Unbeknownst to him, the partner funnelled all the assets to an offshore account, and then suddenly disappeared after a couple of months. The next thing he knew, debt collectors started pounding on his door, often with nasty threats. He lost everything, including his home. His wife borrowed money from her family to return to the UK. He was left here, relying on the kindness of friends to help him along.

“I volunteer a bit at a local dog shelter in return for food, and a bit of company from the other volunteers,” he said. He went on to say that he befriends stray dogs, keeps them for a little while so as to socialise them and then gives them to the dog shelter so that they can be adopted out to good homes.

“Gives me a bit of company, and well, we (he pats Bella on her head) can commiserate on our similar circumstances.” He winked.

As we talked, a few people offered food donations, with sincere thanks from the man that I now knew as ‘Nick.’

One woman approached and gave Nick a reproachful look. Ignoring him (and me) she held out her hand to Bella, who got up from her seated position. The hand opened and held a small pile of dry cat food. Bella sniffed it and then without further interaction, returned to her corner of safety looking wary. Nick explained. “Thank you, but she isn’t hungry. She had her breakfast only half an hour ago.” The woman scowled and dropped the pile of unappetising bits on the ground. Without a word, she walked off!

I smiled at Nick. ” Takes all sorts.” Nick shook his head. “Get a lot of that…” His voice trailed off.

“I’m sorry I don’t have any money to help, my husband has it all,” I said, a bit helplessly.
” Your donation is more than generous,” he said kindly. I always take the excess donations to the dog shelter…they give me some food in return. And little ladies like this one, get a new chance at life!”
I smiled.

“Your husband is waiting for you, I think.” Nick pointed behind me, where my husband was drumming the steering wheel of our car, rather impatiently.
“I better go, it was lovely chatting with you. I hope things work out!”
Nick smiled back and wished me a lovely day.

As I walked away, Nick was smiling, and saying a pleasant “Good Morning,” to a couple walking through the store entrance. They ignored him.

I waved goodbye as we drove away and Nick waved back, smiling!

I told my husband all about Nick, and his attitude changed a bit. But that judgemental side of him still took over… “He probably did everything illegally and that’s why he’s in a mess now.”

Whether Nick brought his circumstances on himself or not, is not really relevant. He was kind to me, and kind to Bella. And kindness always attracts kindness!

ooOOoo

Colette’s story didn’t come with a photograph. So I thought I would do a quick web search and find a picture that fitted Colette’s story well.

In fact, the article that included this photograph may be republished and I will be doing that tomorrow!

13 thoughts on “Never jump to a quick (and incorrect) conclusion

  1. What a beautiful story, Colette. I did a similar thing. When I lived in another state on my way home from work, there was always the same homeless man & his dog on the corner.
    It was before Christmas & the weather was cold. I popped into a convenience store & bought some items for the dog. I returned to the corner & gave the man the food for the dog as well as bottled water. I also gave him some money. Why? He had a particular sign that would list things like I need 88 cents. I knew he wanted to buy dog food. To this day, I am glad to have helped him.

    1. Susan, that is lovely. We have become inured to the hardship of others through mass media exposure, stories of deception and the violent, corrupt world we often encounter. I think we should use the ‘glass half full’ principle and give benefit of doubt before making judgement. Sometimes we may get duped, but not often. 😊

  2. Interestingly Paul, that Photo you found is so close as to be a bit déjà vu in nature. Nick also sat with a blanket to keep him warm. While Bela was much smaller, her expression was similar. She was obviously grateful for Nick’s company and help. 😊

  3. Yeah, homeless people very often have dogs, great company and great warmth I guess. After all, I very much suspect that, whilst the obvious problem they face is being homeless, an equally damaging side effect is having far fewer people to talk to and feel the warmth and love of…..

  4. Love this story, Colette. I feel conflicted about panhandlers, but occasionally feel drawn to one. And what results is the revelation of a story such as the one you have told. All our lives are a combination of effort/luck, skill/chance, and the odd bit of determination. We express gratitude every day for the abundance of grace our efforts cannot possibly elicit in and of themselves. Aloha. Thanks, Paul, for posting one of C’s offerings again. ❤

      1. Thank you Bela. That is so kind of you. Isn’t it strange that your namesake appears in the post. I think Nick must have picked it because it sounded Italian. She was a beautiful little dog. It is a shame that I did not get a photo, but I didn’t really think I’d be telling Nick’s story. 💖

      2. I’ve actually met quite a few people who, upon hearing my name, have quipped, “I (my daughter, friend, etc) have/has a dog named Bella!” Guess it’s a popular dog’s name in the states, as well. 😝

  5. Good people. What with a power failure this morning and needing to be outside most of the day, not only have I not replied to individual responses but neither is there a post in the morning.

  6. I think Colette’s last statement was true. We hope “Nick” finds additional happiness, companionship and kindness. Karma has a way of finding those who deserve it most. The good and the bad. Thank you for sharing this touching story.

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