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Archive for July 6th, 2009

This little Zen maxim is one of my favorite sentences – it proves true time and time again.

We live in the country: Buddy gets to run free pretty much as much as he wants.  It’s in many ways an ideal life for a dog – and for a dog’s person.

In the winter, Buddy seems quite content to come in most nights.  But in the summer it’s a different story: he wants to be outside basically 24/7.  On occasion, he does want to come in at night, even in good weather.  Sometimes i think he wants to be close to me more than he wants to be outside.

But other times the protective dad in me thinks he ought to be inside: “It’s been raining today, it’s damp outside – and he does have that arthritic hip…”  But who am i, really, to make this call for him?  What do i know about the real trade-offs for him, about the price he pays from sleeping inside?

One summer, my wife and i spent 7 weeks camping and backpacking out west.  Our first night home, sleeping inside a building felt very weird.  When i lived up in the mountains, there were very few mosquitoes and i left my front and back doors open wide all day and sometimes into the warm summer night.  I loved the sense of a very porous boundary between outdoors and indoors.  When it started getting colder and i needed to start closing my doors, i felt a loss.  And then i moved down lower in the country, where there are mosquitoes, and i need to keep my screen doors closed.  They let in good air, but it’s still more of a boundary.  I feel a loss.  On these summer days, i often spend really the whole day outside – some of it sitting at my laptop on my lovely front porch, facing only woods and sky.  When, in the evening, i bring my laptop inside for better light, i feel a loss.  It actually feels strange being inside, after being outside all day.

What do i know of Buddy’s genuine need to be out in the night air, smelling the night smells and listening to the night sounds, sleeping on the earth?  How powerfully does all this charge his batteries?  Is all this more healthy for him than coming in out of the damp?  He may be “domesticated”, but he still lives in the world of animal instincts to an extent that i can not estimate or understand.

I know that sometimes it is the responsible thing to make choices for your pet that they do not know how to make for themselves.  Sometimes our rational big picture does actually trump their instincts.  But when?  And how do we know?

I know that outdoors forgives indoors – but i think that Buddy knows this better than i ever will.

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