THE NEIGHBOR’S DOGS

Looking back, I am reminded of Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on love and brotherhood. For a couple of years, I erected a wall high enough for self-preservation, to avoid any encounter with my neighbours.

THE NEIGHBOR’S DOGS

mavic

by Mavic Mercene, CLM-Philippines staff

 

“Thank you, Lord, I have no COVID.”

I live in an apartment building in Quezon City. On the same floor where I live, there are four apartments separated by two wings. One apartment on my wing has been empty since February 2020. My two other neighbours are very private people who own  dogs. Let me tell you about my funny experience with the occupants of apartment no. 4.

Before the pandemic, I had no tolerance for them because they allowed their two dogs to pee and poo at the corridor in front of their apartment. Yes, it may be their space but at times, the wind blows from their direction to ours and the stench just makes my blood boil with disgust. Sometimes, these little dogs escape to our area and they would leave their “mark”. Since I decided that it was not my job to clean up after them, I would report it to the building guard and he would do the cleaning himself. There had been two instances in the past when I got so irritated with the dogs that I told the owner not to allow their pets  to wander about. This was why I thought we have bad blood between us.

When the pandemic hit and we learned that one of the symptoms of coronavirus is the loss of smell, I started changing the way I look at these dogs and their daily ritual. Whenever I  step into the corridor and smell the disgusting odor, instead of getting angry, I would look up to the sky and say, “Thank you, Lord, I have no COVID.” I still do not like the dogs but  I have learned to acknowledge and respect them. Yes, they are some of God’s wonderful creations. I have also gone out of my way to befriend my neighbours. Sometimes, I would give Cris my homemade cookies and Badet would share her plants with me. Recently, I realized that their place was so quiet. The guard  told me that the barangay health workers took them to an undisclosed location for quarantine after all of them, except one, tested positive of COVID. They may not know it,  but I was truly happy to see them when they came back.­­­

Looking back, I am reminded of Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on love and brotherhood. For a couple of years, I erected a wall high enough for self-preservation, to avoid any encounter with my neighbours. I did not care so much about them because I have a world of my own. I pretended to be busy always. These invisible walls protected me, kept me safe, and so I thought. But these walls did not protect anyone from the virus, or from the accompanying loneliness and anxiety. The pandemic  has taught me to be open and  to build good relationships with my neighbours (including those in apartment #4). Now, I have more friends to share my brownies and banana bread with, or snake plants and mayana plants.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12