I like my neighbor, with one small exception – he raises pit bulls. He’s got 8 of them, with 3-4 rotating in to live right next door all the time.

Justified or not, the entire neighborhood is scared of them, with parents being unwilling to let their kids play outside unsupervised (a first in my small subdivision.) My wife’s terrified of them, and if she’s outside when he lets them out to do their business she goes inside until they’re done.

It’s even gotten to the point where calls have been made to the police several times by various neighborhood members for various infractions.

So I admired the way he pulled off a public relations coup this week.

Most of the neighbors were out enjoying a summer evening (hey, when it’s too cold to go outside for much of the year, we Northerners take advantage of every nice evening we can get!), watching the kids play and enjoying parental conversation, when the neighbor walked out of his house carrying a laundry basket onto his driveway.

That attracted a few eyeballs. But when he reached inside and pulled out a 10″ long, 4-week old puppy, it took just a few minutes before the entire neighborhood was gathered around, and each of the 8 puppies had someone cuddling it.

They were awfully cute puppies and they did what puppies do naturally – they captured the hearts of everyone.

As I was holding the puppy, I mentioned to him that I should get my wife to try to remove some of her fear of the pit bulls. He not only thought that was a good idea, but told me to take a puppy to her. A few seconds later, my wife was right in the midst of the cuddle session.

It’s been interesting to watch my neighborhood ever since. Each night, the puppies come out, and everyone gathers around. Barriers are being broken, fear is being reduced, comfort is increasing.