Matt Driscoll

Vandalized Tacoma doggy day care has message for person responsible ... and the rest of us

As far as random acts of vandalism are concerned, it was unusual.

It happened earlier this month, as Positive Approach, the doggy day care, training and grooming business on Center Street in the Tacoma’s Nalley Valley, was closing up shop.

A large metal fireplace insert, origins unknown, came hurtling through one of Positive Approach’s front windows a little after 7 p.m., said co-owner Diane Inman, who goes by Di in real life and at Positive Approach likes to be called either the CFO (“Chief Furry Officer”) or TLC manager (you get it).

“Our staff was surprised, we’ll say that, when they heard this loud crash,” Inman recalls. “They came over, and by golly, we had a piece of furniture through our window.”

Inman, who co-owns the business with her wife Jeri Lynn Vosburgh and her son Dan Inman, wasn’t there at the time but got a call from the shop not long after and experienced a succession of predictable emotions.

First, of course, there was shock and surprise — it was a 3-foot by 2-foot metal fireplace insert, after all, not exactly something you expect to find suddenly fly through businesses.

That was followed by concern for her employees and customers.

Then, once it was clear no one was hurt and the damage was limited to a window, came fear, Inman said.

Her family purchased the business in 2011 and has operated it out of its current location since 2013. She’s never once felt vulnerable or unsafe, she said, so the emotion was new.

Next, anger.

“Gosh, we work really hard to be a great business and a great employer and a good member of the community. I really don’t deserve someone throwing something through my window,” Inman recalled thinking. “That’s not fair. That’s not nice.”

Those emotions were fleeting, largely because of what came next.

Once the dust and glass of shards settled, Inman said she started to see the sliver linings.

No one was worse for the wear, including the roughly 20 dogs preparing to spend the night at Positive Approach’s kennel. In reality, Inman knew she was as safe as ever, despite the jarring experience.

Tacoma police responded quickly, she said, and helped cover the jagged hole with plywood, while concerned customers, seeing the damage, expressed support and gave hugs. A glass company even offered to replace the window

Inman realized how grateful she was. The gestures were small, she said, but still moving, so she decided to make the best out of an initially disheartening and scary situation.

On Thursday, when The News Tribune visited Positive Approach, the plywood was still up.

So was the message Positive Approach painted on it in bright yellow..

“We wish you peace and joy,” it reads.

Inman said she really has no idea who broke the window, or why they did it. Positive Approach — as the name implies — has done its best as a business to be a positive influence in Tacoma throughout the years, and she’s only ever experienced the same in return from her community.

Inman figures it was someone who was angry and clearly in a bad place. While what happened baffles her, she now feels sympathy as well.

In part, she said, the painted plywood message is sincerely directed at whoever caused the damage.

Beyond that — and most importantly, Inman said— the straightforward bit of potential inspiration is pointed at all of us.

There’s so much negativity in the world, Inman said, and she didn’t want this random act of vandalism — or the broken window it left behind — to serve as further, visual proof. For some people, she feared it would be yet another sign that “the world is going to hell in a handbasket,” she explains.

It’s a narrative she wanted to buck, largely because, in her experience, “it’s simply not true.”

“For everyone out there who looked at it and saw another example of the terrible world we live in … that has not been our experience, personally, and it has not been our experience as a business,” Inman said.

Inman said she hopes the message “has helped people to walk away with … something that is bright and upbeat.”

The broken window at Positive Approach is scheduled to be replaced next week.

Until then, the sign will stand, Inman said.

“Maybe they can take that into their day. Maybe we can spread it,” she muses.

“Why not?”

Indeed, why not.

Sometimes small gestures create larger ripples.

Matt Driscoll is a reporter and The News Tribune’s metro news columnist. A McClatchy President’s Award winner, Driscoll lives in Central Tacoma with his wife and three children. He’s passionate about the City of Destiny and strives to tell stories that might otherwise go untold.