Wednesday, April 30, 2008

There's Nothing Like a Good Leash-Free Adventure


Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
-Helen Keller

My dog Captain likes a good adventure. A good leash-free adventure that involves wide open spaces, lots of scents and lots of other animals to chase. There's something about the chase that's ingrained in his being, like his need to run full speed, just because he knows he has the capacity to. He innately knows that he has energy to discharge and so, as we are nearing the end of our jaunt, sometimes he'll do 6 or 7 extra laps, because he knows that we're nearing the car, and he wants to expend as much energy as he can before the "walk" is through.
I can only observe this by being a bystander.

He begins, though, at a leisurely pace. Nose to the ground, he's gathering information. Sensing there have been many other animals here before him, He needs to case the joint so that he'll be prepared for what ever he might scare up: horses, deer, or an occasional fox. On one occasion, I saw him get nearer to the fox than he's ever been, but the fox took shelter in an island of brush that was thicker than my dog could enter, which left him running in circles around it, sure that he'd just chased a young fox which had now disappeared. It's a cat and mouse game, but this "mouse of a fox" has to experience lessons like these in his lifetime, It's natures way. He learned that low-lying brush is a refuge when you're being chased by a much larger predator.
And there's nothing like a near-miss to launch you forward.

Now the deer he comes upon are another matter all together. He may see 4 or 5 of them in the distance. They stare each other down in stillness for a moment, until Captain, raising his right front leg in point, breaks the silence and they flutter their cotton tails in unison and harmoniously flee. They're graceful in their flight, as they flow rhythmically forward, four or five strides, then a great big beautiful leap. For although they are long-legged, swift animals of flight, they still have to learn the same lessons as the low-to-the-ground fox. They've learned from their own individual experiences that they may need that extra propulsive leap to insure their successful flight from confrontation. They've learned to "skip a few steps" but only through the experience of almost being caught could they have learned that lesson.

My Grandmother lived to be 89, so she had lots of experiences under her leopard print belt-Lots of near misses.When giving advice, she'd say "I've already made the mistakes, so you don't have to." Although we value the wisdom of our elders a great deal, there's something innate in us that has to experience it ourselves to really learn the lesson, to really feel its wisdom. I have to remind myself of this regularly, when my kids resist the advice I can't help giving. I have to take a step back, and put myself in their flip-flops at their ages, and remember: They're the only ones who can propel their own big beautiful leaps forward.
As much as I'd like to "save them a few steps,"
there's something about the chase that's ingrained in their being.
Like their dog Captain, they're ready for a good leash-free adventure.

And I can only observe this by being a bystander.

"There are three kinds of men: The one that learns by reading, The few who learn by observation, and The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence to see for themselves."

Tell a Friend

-Will Rogers

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