Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

Cain and Abel

The dog barked.

This was not the dog that Sherlock Holmes famously referred to that did not bark in the night.

No, it was a bit past 6:00 AM this morning, and it was a neighbor’s dog. The neighbor directly behind me to be exact.

They normally leave their dog out in their postage stamp yard to do its business and when it barks once, they let it back inside. It only has to bark once, never more than twice.

So it was unusual this morning when it began to bark more often, something like once a minute or so. I looked out and saw that their inner door was wide open leaving only their screen door, so I was certain they wouldn’t leave their dog out much longer. It was 40° F outside after all.

But the dog kept barking. And the barks were getting closer together, almost like a whining sound. I had been irritated by the noise, but now I was getting concerned. For the dog.

How inconsiderate of them to leave their dog out begging to come inside.

And then another thought occurred to me.

What if they couldn’t come to the door? What if something had happened? Like a stroke? Or a heart attack? What if they needed help? Like now?

Well, I don’t know those people. I don’t even know how many folks live in that house. If it had been one of my next door neighbors, I could have just texted or phoned or run over and rapped on the door as I know both of those single women and see and chat with them from time to time. But the people behind me I don’t know at all.

Should I call 911? And say what? That I think there might be a problem at… I don’t even know their house number. And even if I did, what if they are simply, say, waiting for their newly waxed kitchen floor to dry? And a policeman comes to their door? (Do people still wax their floors?)

No, if I do anything, I should go there myself.

But by the time I reached this conclusion I was in the middle of taking a shower. So I decided that that’s what I would do. When I got out of the shower I’d quickly get dressed and I’d run around the block and knock on their door and… Well, I’d think of something to say.

And then I turned the shower off and I noticed the dog was no longer barking.

So, problem solved.

Question: what would you have done?

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