Poor A.J. Clemente. He had the worst first day on the job EVER, recently, when he accidentally said some curse words over his microphone on the local news. That’s a pretty big mistake in the world of mass communications, so I understand why he was let go. I feel bad for him because he was probably so nervous, etc. but it was the right decision.
Also in the context of mistakes, I’ve been thinking about my dad’s dogs. (I swear I have a point here. Don’t leave me.) My dad has loved Boston Terriers (or Boston Terribles as they are sometimes affectionately called) since he was very young. Almost every dog he’s ever had has been a Boston, though we did have 2 poodle/mix strays come into our lives during my childhood.
Bostons are some of the most awesome dogs in the world. I have never seen a mean Boston; they are almost annoyingly friendly. They love attention and affection and will lavish you with kisses and licks till your pants get so stiff from drool they could stand by themselves. They are small enough to be lapdogs, but too big to be annoying purse dogs. I have had 3 fully grown Bostons jump into a chair with me once but that balancing act didn’t last long. They are super fun to aggravate with a laser pointer or play tug of war with a rope. And if you can get them in the right position in the bed (always a struggle because they are burrowers) they aren’t too bad to curl up and sleep with.
That being said, they are not the brightest creatures on this planet. They do have moments of cleverness, like when they used to take my dad’s laundry piece by piece out the doggy door and leave it all over the yard. That was amusing. But more often than not, I’m left looking at them and thinking “What on earth did you do that for?”
This is Rocky, one of dad’s 2 current Bostons. He’s the sweetest dog ever and so pretty with his one blue eye. No, he’s not deaf, just hard-headed. He went through a phase (of a year or two) where he was marking (read: peeing) all over the house from time to time. Not enough that it was a clear house-training issue, more like a deliberate marking. His fave things to mark? Dad’s shoes.
When I was staying there for a few days during my recovery from spinal surgery in 2011, I remember being in bed one morning and hearing what sounded like the dogs scratching on the door to get in my bedroom. I ignored. It persisted. I ignored more. It persisted more. I rolled carefully out of the bed in my neck brace and opened the door to see “snow” all in the bathroom, down the hall, into the kitchen, the living room and the den. Almost solid white with paw prints in it. The dog had found a bag of Epsom salts somewhere and dragged them through the entire house. The scratching was his paws (and Fanny’s, the innocent one) on the wood floors as they tried to maneuver a field of sharp rock salt granules on their bare feet. I found him on the sofa, licking his feet and looking so guilty I could have died. It would’ve been funny if I hadn’t had to clean all that up in a neck brace.
One day dad saw Rocky ‘mark’ the refrigerator and he’d had enough. He put him on Craigslist. Nothing came of it; I believe dad was just venting. Still, that dog seems to have a hard time learning. Dad recently started taking him outside in the front of the house since they live on a dead end road with very little traffic, and now that Rocky can mark more things out there, he does it much less in the house. I think that’s maybe what he was doing when this happened:
This is the back yard, but I feel like Rocky was investigating and trying to mark the new yard art, as it were. Dad was trying to trap, and I hope relocate, a fox who had been spotted by the neighbors several times and was becoming bolder. There are small kids and pets around there, so Foxy had to go. Dad used a ham bone for bait. First he caught a possum, and then he caught Rocky. I haven’t heard the whole story just yet, but I know Rocky couldn’t have been in there for too long because Fanny would have alerted someone. I even kind of wonder if my dad watched this happen and let it. I don’t blame him; I love this photo. And maybe Rocky, the hard-headed dog did learn not to meddle with everything? I doubt it. He’s a dog, but I guess it’s possible.
Between poor Rocky in the clink and poor A.J. Clemente’s 15 minutes of infamy, it made me think about the nature of mistakes. We all make them. But what do we do when we see someone else about to make them? I know Clemente’s mistake couldn’t have been prevented. No one saw that coming. But my dad probably saw the dog going for the trap. When is it ok to let a mistake happen (in work or life) in order to teach someone a lesson? Obviously we prevent small children from running into the street or grabbing things off the stove. Obviously we check behind the new payroll clerk so we don’t pay everyone a quarter of a million dollars an hour. But other, lesser mistakes…should they be prevented or allowed to play out?
I feel like I have people in my life right now who are letting me make mistakes (in a good way) and I try very hard to consciously learn from them so I don’t repeat them. Sometimes I fear I’m going to be like that damn dog, though, and ignore the lessons. I hope not.
(Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen some of these pics before. Sorry for duplicating. Those of you who don’t are welcome to follow – hrgalfriday there too.)