Friday, June 10, 2011


We had a sudden and rather spectacular windstorm the other day.  The wind picked up, the roof began to creak loudly, and I went to the sliding glass door to see if there were any cows flying by.  Nope, no cows.  Just moments later, the wind settled down to a reasonable level and I headed back to the task I'd been engaged in.  That's about the time a handful of boys from our neighborhood showed up on our doorstep.  "Your fence fell over!"

Sure enough -- a 4x4 post snapped and we had a sixteen-foot-wide opening between our back lawn and the rest of the neighborhood.  Sixteen feet!  Drat.

Sirius is our aging Labrador retriever, and he's a pretty good dog, but he's not that good.  It was apparent that where I saw a gaping hole, he saw The Gateway to Big Adventure.  He wanted to go outside, often.  And I went with him, every time.  He would casually stroll toward the hole in the fence, I would bring him back, we would go inside, he would beg to go back out, and we would repeat the whole thing.  I got tired of that routine pretty quickly.

So... once I realized it will take a little while to get the fence rebuilt, I bought a tie-down cable.  We've been getting some beautiful weather, after all, so I wanted to give him more freedom to enjoy the outdoors, and to give me more freedom to not watch him every moment of it.  It's a long cable, giving the dog twenty feet in each direction.  I clipped him to it and sent him outside.  I was happy.  Sirius was happy.  Everyone was happy.

But not for long.  As Sirius started meandering onto the lawn, his rear foot landed on the cable so that when he leaned into the next step, it tugged on his collar.  He stopped, looking back toward me with his big brown eyes, seeming to wonder why I'd so unfairly limited his freedom.

I hadn't, of course.  The only thing holding the dog back at that point was the dog stepping on his own leash.  Accustomed to the limits of the leash, he assumed that any resistance he met came from me.

Made me think of how we respond as people sometimes -- making false steps and assuming the resulting resistance comes from another source, mistaking self-imposed limits for insurmountable rules, shortening our reach unnecessarily, staying too close to "home" because of little tugs backwards.

It is good to live within appropriate limits.  It's sad, though, to live within false ones of our own foolish construction.

No comments: