Monday, November 5, 2012

The Dog Ate My Homework

For the first time ever, I have a "the dog ate my homework" story.   Yesterday, we settled our custody trial for today.  I arranged to meet my client up the road so she could sign the agreement.  Off I went, up Georgia Avenue, to meet her.  On my way, the three cars in front of me slowed because there was a dog on the side of the road.  Being the puppy lover that I am, I stopped.  This gorgeous black pit bull came bounding over to me, jumped in my car, and.... onto the agreement.  It made it quite wrinkled (which was the dog ate my homework part of this when I handed the wrinkled agreement to the judge this morning).  I called the owner, left a message, and went on my way.  Well, this dog had no car manners whatsoever, plus all 60 punds of him thought they could fit in my lap as we drove up the way.  I pulled over, put him in the back seat, lifted the cover for the center console and placed my arm between the seats to keep him in back.  After he was done licking my arm, he squeezed arm and the ceiling of the car to get in front.  Luckily, I was where I needed to go by then.  On the way back, he seemed to understand the drill, and stayed in the passenger seat, licking my hand the entire way.  Turns out, he's a rescue.  He had been given up when his owner went to jail, and spent the next few months at the pound (that he was still alive tells you everything you need to know about his temperament).  Then, he was rescued and is living with his foster mommy until they can find him a good home.  There are so many ways this story is like the Trenches.  I could talk about how life is not the getting from point A to point B, but all the serendipitous things that happen along the way.  I could talk about why I stopped and some people didn't - how we perceive danger, how we view right and wrong, how we feel about animals.  What I want to talk about, however, is Nietzsche (that's his name).

For those of you who don't know, I live and work in the state of Maryland.  That's the state whose appellate court recently announced that a pit bull is an inherently dangerous animal.  Pit bulls don't get one free bite like other dogs.  Oh no, if they bite you, you are assumed to have known they were dangerous.  I wonder if the cars in front of me didn't stop because Nietzsche was obviously a pit bull.  Probably.  Truth is, he was less dangerous than my poodle.  I can't tell you how often people here in the Trenches appear to be different than they really are.  The client who appears a wee bit crazy (OK, a lot crazy), is just reacting to their spouse's crazy-making behavior.  The one who is accused of being abusive is sometimes the victim.  The poor defenseless spouse was actually the one calling the shots during the marriage.  The big hulk of a man has low testosterone.  The stud is actually impotent.  The woman with the great body has had more plastic surgery than Joan Rivers.  A lot of the time, what the client presents when they first walk in our door is fueled by fear and uncertainty; they seem one way, but as they feel safer and calm down, they are entirely different.  It makes for an interesting life; there are always surprises for us.  It's part of our jobs to look past the pit bull and see the Nietzsche.  That's probably something we should all do, and not just - Here in the Trenches.

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