On the Nature of Freedom and the Freedom of Nature.

View with dog on leash.

When we first got Toby,  I promised that I would not start writing about the dog all the time. Over my dead body would the dog become a metaphor for everything else in life. LIES! The thing is, when you’re out walking and it's just you, the beach, the sunrise, and the dog, sometimes you get to thinking about the dog. 

Some people love dogs. Me, I have a dog.  I love walking the dog because I love walking. But walking is not so pleasant when he’s pulling at the leash, crisscrossing your path and tripping you, or stopping randomly on the yellow line to do what some dogs apparently do: Right. On. The. Yellow. Line. (Ew.) Love is not what crosses my mind when I go tumbling over him, pulling either my ankle or my right hamstring, or sometimes both. This is life with dogs on leashes. 

Today was different: No leash. The sunrise was gorgeous and I let the dog off. He sniffed for a minute, looked at me, then darted off at full strength, like a meaty, hungry greyhound. I watched him: Gorgeous. Muscular. Fast. Happy. And free. 

Off leash, he is exactly what he is meant to be. It's easy to love a dog when the dog is being what he was meant to be. 

Problem!!!! Free, he got to sniffing. There are so many smelly things to sniff on a beach. I called him. He looked up. Paused. Ignored me. Then five minutes later came bounding back. Received his praise (because now I actually like him). Then off he went. We repeated this many times and it seemed to be working. Then he disappeared; he went too far. He left the beach. Into someone's yard. I saw the white tip of his tail bouncing over the prickly ragged ragusa, breathed a sigh of relief, but then it disappeared.  Next thing I see, he is standing proudly like a lion at the top of a hill next to a house, chest out, head erect, tail high. He's at the edge of their yard, at the edge of the road. I panic. Maybe freedom is not so good after all, and I feel like my entire essay is ruined now. (Everything is ruined, Denya!) I call him again, and then turn to walk the other way, trying to look nonchalant staring at the sunrise from the water's edge. I wait. I turn. There he is, running to me at top speed. 

Relief. Much praise. Freedom is apparently ok, but it must be done carefully.

People, this is not an allegory. I know it reads like one, but this actually happened. It is a story about a sunrise, a beach, a dog, and a person walking. It did get me to thinking about a few things, though: the nature of freedom, the freedom of nature, and the disgust of cleaning up after a dog who poops on the yellow line. Now that's freedom.