October 19, 2016

Thoroughly Cowed

I wanted to kill a dog this morning.

We have a large Siberian Husky mix (possibly Malamute, possibly part wolf) at our house. He's a gorgeous beastie, all 85 pounds of him. He's wonderful company for me during the day to talk to, pet, and so forth. He is almost always in need of exercise; this is a large dog who moves fast enough to keep up with a running deer. I've seen him do it.

Today I thought I'd be a good girl and exercise both of us right away. We drove to a small wilderness area nearby that has walking paths, trees, and a small creek. Cody loves to go there, and I've been able to let him off-leash most times we're out there.

Then came this morning.

We were walking--ok, I was walking; he was running--and came to the trail section that runs parallel to a county highway. Cody has been wonderful about obeying me, staying scrupulously to the path when I say, "Path." I don't know if he heard or smelled something new, but in no time at all, he was gone. Up the slope, across the highway, and out of my sight. When I crossed the highway myself, my heart sank.

Cody found cows in the field. If he is part wolf, I feel safe in saying that wolves do not have a herding instinct. A harassing instinct, yes. Herding, no. It was like this dog thought he found large new, interactive toys to play with. He raced up to and around several, seeming to delight in seeing that "these things move, too!" No barking, no howling, no trying to biting or attack (thankfully), but definitely chasing.

Then he swam across the creek and climbed up the other side, because he saw another group of cows! (All through this, mind you, I'm yelling his name in my Army-command voice.) It wasn't until a young male decided to take Cody on that the dog decided the weight difference mattered after all. Suddenly he 'remembered' I was calling him, and he ran back through the creek, across the field, and straight to me without running on the highway again. He was muddy, a massive dog-smile on his face, mouth open, ears back, mud & wet all over... I wanted to kill him.

I leashed him up, marched him in a straight line through the wilderness and right back to our car. Into the car, home in disgrace, and I took him out of the car (still on his leash) and marched him into the laundry room where his bed and dishes are. I left him shut up for a while. He's still pretty somber around me, tentative with his actions and gaze.

For as mad as I might have felt in the moment, I have to honestly recognize the times I go racing off, chasing things larger than me that have the capacity to injure me greatly. Even if it feels fun in the moment, I wonder how much dirt and possible injury God sees when he looks my way.

That insight feels very ham-handed, and I dislike even the appearance of "And here's the bad I do; I should feel bad about the bad I do" slap-my-own-face-before-another-Christian-does-it-for-me response. I sincerely am asking myself some of these questions, though. Are there things I'm chasing that I don't understand, that maybe require more humility? Are there ways I'm trampling all over someone else's thoughts or feelings because it matters more to me that I surrender to my impulse in the moment?

There were moments of seeing Cody fully alive, doing something he understands instinctively. It can be an amazing, beautiful thing. It shouldn't be a goal to kill that in him; the struggle and the discipline are to find ways of using that ability, channeling that energy, in a way that honors life around him, too. That is also my goal for my own misdirected abilities. Someday. So I don't end up chasing cows my whole life. : )

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