On Beagles and boundaries
We have a new family member as of New Year's Eve: an adorable little eight month old Beagle named Copper. Yes, for Copper in The Fox and the Hound, although I believe that Copper was a Basset Hound. He spent his former life in a fenced yard barking at everything that moved until his owners couldn't take it anymore and dropped him off at the pound. Just the kind of dog we need, since our dog's most annoying trait is his screaming, screeching, annoyingness if he is ever left out. But I guess that demonstrates our tolerance for all things loud and barky.

Spending his life thus, he also was never housebroken and is receiving his first lessons with us. This is where I know my little Mouse really loves this dog and is determined to make him her own: she cleaned up the one accident he has had without being asked.

At any rate, it all means lots of walks. My daughter does most of those, but I don't wake her up at one in the morning to take him out. I do that walk. It is an interesting, meandering sort of walk about our backyard.

So little Copper is leashed, and I let him roam about chasing scents and being as much of a Beagle as a Beagle can be at one in the morning with the leash on. He hesitantly approaches our neighbor's fence where two dogs live. I wonder if he can smell size since one of them is a Great Dane. Not inclined to spend a great deal of time here, he sprays and moves on. We trot along the back of the property and he goes into the field a little, but yields readily to being kept in the yard, despite no fence.

We then walk back along the garden which must be full of rabbity scents or something. He can't seem to get enough of sniffing in the mulch and up and down the tilled rows. Finally, we get to the potty spot but there he sees the gate.

Suddenly, nothing else seems important and he darts over to it and scratches to be let out. He nudges and paws at the gate, pushes his little nose under it and examines it from every angle, determined to figure a way out. The one time he resists the leash is there as I gently pull him away from the fence.

As if that fence were the only thing between him and absolute freedom.

It seems strange that he never objects to the leash, never pulls at it, bites at it or tries to fight it in the least. It is a boundary he has accepted without much thought. And other than that leash, there is nothing keeping him in the yard. Our yard is not fenced. We just happen to have a partial fence around the side yard where we take the dogs to "do their duty." And it has a gate which has attracted all his attention.

It is amusing to watch in a little puppy, but also somewhat true of us. How often do we pause at a barrier, exerting all our efforts to go through while failing to see other paths to the same goal...or to truly recognize the leash which is truly controlling us and holding us back?