Off Kilter at Our Little House
This summer will be remembered for a lot at Our Little House, but the central theme seems to be about finding balance:
In my work, home chores, decluttering, gardening, volunteering and even in my reading.
In the wake of losing Emma, it has also become about finding a balance once again for our two large dogs, Sade and Chloe. In my post a few weeks ago, I asked why children today are bored? There was a good discussion as to why parents might be wary of letting children out to roam and play…it’s a big scary world.
I might now apply that to why my two big dogs are bored.
My good friend, Allie, wrote on her Pet Tips & Tails blog last week about helping her dogs find balance in their lives. She says it is hardest for her to help her dogs with the mental stimulation. I find that I have the same challenge with Molly and Dakota, the two smaller dogs, as people do with dogs in the city or suburbs. They have a routine, they are kept on a leash during scheduled walks and I have to help them find stimulation while they’re in the house.
However, life in the country is different for large dogs. I know people who live in the city or suburbs, or even on those 5 acres plots in the semi-country don’t understand that, dogs of all sizes must be kept in their yards.
I know because before I moved to the country, I didn’t understand how my aunt could let her dogs roam the woods. “They should be allowed to be dogs,” she told me. The wild predators we have here would not generally attack large dogs and we don’t have farmers – or any neighbors for that matter – to worry about.
Large country dogs are generally allowed the freedom to roam the land, to have lives closer to what dog’s lives used to be. It is generally safe, provided their people have assessed the risks, defined the boundaries and found a balance between letting dogs be dogs and our concerns for their safety.
Here at Our Little House, our large dogs could not be contained. Even in the city, Emma would scale a 4 ft. chain link fence if we weren’t keeping a constant eye on her. Her days were spent walking with Molly, Dakota on a leash and then depending on me to provide her mental stimulation the rest of the day. She was happy, but clearly not as satisfied as she was here.
Once we moved, Emma, Sade (who joined us on our move here), Naji and Cain (my aunt’s dogs) weren’t happy unless they were together chasing squirrels, rabbits and armadillos and roaming the 40 acres of woods my family owns, as well as taking swims in the lake. They were scolded if they went too far or stayed out too long and over time, they adhered to our defined boundaries of time and space. They generally stuck to the woods and water in the perimeter around the house, or spent time sunning on the deck.
That was until last week when something or someone tilted the careful balance we had struck with our big dogs.
Since that morning, I haven’t let Chloe and Sade out of my sight for longer than 15 minutes. I make them stay with me during our scheduled walks and if they venture out of sight, I call them back.
Nothing has changed in the balance they found with us, but everything has changed in how I view that balance. I’m as watchful as I was when we first moved here, carefully hovering.
I know that this hyper-fear I’ve developed cannot last forever. The weather will soon cool, foliage will die and leaves will fall, making their chases more enticing and they will no longer be happy 24/7 under our watchful eyes.
For now, though, this is the balance we have to slowly find again – to allow our dogs to be dogs – and let them live the life Emma so loved here.
Are you working on attaining a balance in your own life? How about balance for your pets/kids? How do you accomplish it?