Dear Neighbor, I'm writing this to you as an apology for all the times I've seemed rude and couldn't explain why. When you rounded a corner, saw me with my dog and called out, "Hi there! Cute dog!", only to watch as I scurried across the road and waved, I'm sure you thought I must be crazy! When we met in the corridor a few days later, and I called my dog to me, spinning on my heel and walking away, you probably thought I was the height of rudeness. For those, and all the other times, I'm sorry.
The truth is, it was never about you. I was only trying to keep my dog feeling safe. She can be very anxious, and gets easily upset when people and dogs come too close. That statement might seem odd, because my dog now looks like the definition of obedience. The way she glances up at me, walks nicely and listens to commands makes her look like she takes on the world with practiced ease, but you can't see how long a road has taken us to this point. Or how easily one overstepped boundary could turn her back into the bolting, straining, skittering ball of nerves she was just a few months ago.