When I saw Fate emerging from the meadow and slipping through some barbed wire, my heart skipped a beat or two, as yours may have when you saw this photo. Some people have suggested over the years that I am callous about my dogs, and do not take safety and danger as seriously as I might.
People send me messages and warnings every day.
I can't say if that is true or not, my dogs have never been seriously injured, and have all but one (Orson) died of natural causes after good lives. Still, there are choices to be made, realities to consider. If you let a dog run free in the country, there are dangers. Hunters, sometimes, rabid animals, bears, horses and donkeys, all kinds of ticks and parasites, some poisons. And barbed wire.
Old pastures criss-cross the roads and woods, there is barbed wire embedded everywhere. Sometimes it is hidden by brush and twigs, sometimes it mysteriously rises up out of the ground, sometimes it is hidden behind brush and wildflowers.
For me, the choice is epic.
Do I let a dog like Fate live her good and free life like a dog like her was meant to live (not all dogs need to do that or want to), or should I heed the many dangers and alarms – processed dog food, evil vets and vaccinations, Lyme Disease, drowning, falling through ice, riding in warm cards, sick and nasty animals – and keep her close and bounded?
It is a personal decision, everyone must make it for themselves, there is no clear right or wrong in my mind. I have a lot of problems, but I do not have the social media diseases of wanting to argue all day, hating people who differ, or telling other people what to do.
Fate slips in and out of barbed wire often, she seems to always sense it and see it and slip through it. She has never been cut or scratched and she has a keen radar for avoiding wires that are too tight. Mostly, she sticks to the deer paths. Seeing this photo on the computer – I didn't see the barbed wire when I took the shot, I was actually a good distance away – I had a start, it looked too close to me.
I can keep her from running in the meadow she loves so much, or I can accept that there is some danger out there.
The wire is no problem for Fate. At least so far. She is a savvy country dog.
I am committed to her living as full and free a life as she can live, she deserves it, it is her nature. I accept the risk of freedom, for me and for her. I have traded security for fulfillment and the safety I am told I should have.
For me, that is the trade-off and the opportunity I am given. I do not choose to live a life in fear for me, I do not choose to live one for Fate.
None of us live perfect lives, none of us can be protected from the world, as we see on the news every day. A writer friend named Janet Hamilton wrote a beautiful piece on her blog about her friend David, who was dying of cancer. Eat all the pie you want, Janet, He said.
Life is, after all, a matter of balance. I think every animal knows this in their genes.
Eat all the pie you can, Fate.