QUESTION: Just a few days ago, the meter reader left our back gate open and our beloved pet Archy, a miniature 3-year-old German Shepherd made his way out into the street and was killed a few blocks away at a busy intersection. We didn’t tell our 5-year-old son that Archy is dead. We told him that he probably ran away and found another family. Our son is inconsolable, and we avoid any discussion about Archy. Now we’re wondering if we did the right thing, and would like another viewpoint about how to deal with children and the loss of pets.
– Archy’s Family
The pain of loss of a beloved pet cannot be dismissed any more than physical pain from an injury can be ignored. Encourage your son to express his feelings of loss. Give him paints and paper to make pictures of Archy and listen to your son’s reminiscences of past joyous moments with him. Avoiding the grief can cause further damage. Unexpressed grief can even end up as illness if ignored long enough.
It is so much easier to tolerate hurt and loss when it is shared with others.
Loss is a real and true part of our life as human beings. It teaches us how to appreciate the good things and learning to tolerate it is an integral part of growing and deepening our relationship with and connection to life itself.
Rabbi Janet Bieber
Jewish Community & Learning Center of the Foothills
First let me say that I’m sorry for your loss and I’m happy to provide another viewpoint regarding the loss of this pet.
Second, losing a childhood pet is hard, but your son is in a huge group of pet lovers. Most people have lost a pet during their childhood. Your son is definitely not alone. This sad day is a necessary day in his development as piece by piece, brick by brick God adds strength to his emotional constitution.
If you’ll permit me, the less than honest story you told your son about Archy’s absence has made the situation worse.
Now your son is not only grieving Archy’s disappearance but also his betrayal. Your story means Archy chose another family, perhaps another 5-year-old boy over your son. Why would Archy do this? Was there something your son could have done differently? Far better to tell the truth, all of it. Better to be angry at the meter reader than to feel deserted by Archy.
Correcting the story won’t be easy but your son will understand that you were trying to spare his feelings. Tell your son the sad truth. The truth makes more sense than the fiction. The truth is, Archy loves you and would come back if he could, but he can’t.
As I ponder your son’s future outlook on pets, I can’t help but wonder if Archy has any descendants that might be looking for a 5-year-old boy to love them.
May God grant you comfort in your time of loss.
QUESTION: Our neighborhood is like a small community within a community. Most of us have lived side by side for over 20 years. Last year, a couple we’ve known for over 25 years moved away to be closer to their children and about eight months ago a young couple, probably in their late 20s or early 30s bought their home. We neighbors had a welcome gathering for them and took them a welcome basket from all of us. All was going well until the younger couple began having parties – really loud parties. After the first one, we asked them to keep the noise level down, but the parties (at least once a month) and noise are continuing.
We don’t want to call the police. What is the neighborly thing to do?
– Tired Neighbor
I think you are wise to handle the situation thoughtfully and not involve the police prematurely. Disputes between neighbors can escalate dangerously. Perhaps there are steps you can take to minimize your discomfort such as having ambient noise like a fan running or using earplugs. A review of the Glendale noise ordinance indicates the maximum decibel level for single-family zones is 45 at night and 55 during the day. If the new neighbors’ parties exceed that it is indeed a violation of municipal code. However, once a month doesn’t seem very frequent and the police may place a low priority on such complaints.
National Night Out is coming up Aug. 7 this year. This event started in 1984 with neighborhood watch groups encouraging everyone to turn on their porch lights as a way to fight crime. It has grown over the years and there will be 40-plus events this year, ranging from simple neighborhood potlucks to a large carnival-like event at Pacific Park. Police and fire personnel visit many of the gatherings and share information about crime and local ordinances like our fresh air ordinance. If your neighborhood has a Neighborhood Watch group there may be something already planned; if not, there is still some time to put something together. It’s the perfect time to get your new neighbors involved. You may even be able to get your local officers to emphasize noise when they chat with the group.
If you live in Glendale, contact Matt Zakarian, our local area command lead officer at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on local NNO events. He can also let you know how to set up a Neighborhood Watch for your street.
Deputy Jorge Valdiva of the CV Sheriff’s Dept. can be reached at (818) 236-4021 and is the contact for NNO in unincorporated La Crescenta/Montrose and La Cañada Flintridge. He can let you know the noise ordinances in those areas.
At times it might feel difficult to “Love our Neighbors.” We must find a way to love and be loved by the people with whom we share our space and community. So, how does one practice this “Golden Rule?”
Most of us don’t even know who our neighbors are! And that, my friend, is the key. Make a commitment to become well acquainted with your “offending” neighbors. The verse “Love your neighbor as yourself,” applies to this situation. Sometimes we may harbor feelings of resentment or frustration for a neighbor who may have parties more than is comfortable for the community in which they live.
How can love and the resulting tolerance become a bigger part of our lives today? We need to get to know our neighbors and neighborhood in ways that allows for love, consideration and respect among and between everyone – a big order, I know! Love and respect generates the understanding of what is tolerated in your little community. Then respect, trust and a mutual bond begins to form. You may begin to be alright with your neighbors once a month party antics when you learn their parties are the way they relax and release tension from the work week. In turn, your neighbors may decide not to have as many parties or even smaller parties when, becoming better acquainted with you, they learn that you enjoy the peace and quiet in your calm community.
Start a Neighborhood Watch program. Walk your dogs together, offer to mow their lawn. Do something that engages you and your neighbors in sharing time together.
Rev. Steven Van Meter
Center for Spiritual Living – La Crescenta