The first night in a new house is always strange. Strange smells, strange noises and strange neighbours! You’d think moving house for the 38th time would be old hat after having relocated so often. But this time it was a big deal. We were moving into our own home for the first time. No longer tenants, now we were home-owners.
Most of our new neighbours were well established in the area and we were keen to make a good first impression. As our removal truck pulled up to the front of the house, I noticed a flutter of curtains and blinds in the surrounding houses. We were all smiles as we piled our belongings inside.
Arranging furniture and unpacking boxes is exhausting work. Before long we were ready to hit the sack. But first, we made sure the cat and dog were settled in their new spots. The cat in her basket in the laundry and the dog tied up to his kennel in the backyard.
No sooner had our heads hit the pillow than the dog started.
“Woof, woof, woof.”
“Be quiet!” yelled the man of the house.
“Woof, woof woof.”
Half an hour later the dog still wouldn’t settle. The man of the house marched outside to deliver some doggie discipline. No sooner had he hopped back under the doona than the dog was at it again.
“Woof. Woof, woof, woof.”
It was so unlike our dog. He was usually very good at bedtime. But alas, just when we wanted to make a good impression, he barked all night. As we shoved our heads under the pillows I muttered, “Our neighbours are going to hate us.” Man of the house agreed, “There goes the neighbourhood!”
Early the next morning I went outside to untie the dog from his kennel. It was midwinter and he was sitting outside his kennel on the cement—shivering and looking most miserable. As soon as I untied him, he rushed to the kennel door and barked and barked and barked. I thought the move may have unsettled him and tried to call him inside for some breakfast. But he stood outside the kennel and kept barking.
When he refused to come inside, I stuck my head into the kennel to work out what might be upsetting him. Maybe we put his blanket in the wrong way, I thought. Next thing I knew a furry, white, smelly streak came running out to greet me. I screamed and fell backwards. This “thing” took that as an invitation to play and scampered all over me. I screamed again. Man of the house came running out to find a ferret chasing me around the backyard, and the dog, barking madly, chasing the ferret!
Well, we made an impression on our new neighbours all right! But it wasn’t quite the one I’d hoped for. We got to meet all our neighbours as we went door-knocking to find where the ferret had escaped from. It also gave us a chance to explain that our dog doesn’t normally bark all night.
It took ages to get the ferret’s smell out of the dog kennel. And even longer for us to assure out neighbour’s dog barks all night, I shove the earplugs in tighter and remeber Jesus’ word in Matthew 7:1. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” After all, their dog may have just found himself made homeless by a runaway ferret.