Beware the rebel with paws
500 Words: My other life
I try to remember to take my green shopping bags with me to the supermarket each week and I generally obey the road rules. My lovely neighbours know they can count on me to feed their pets and collect their mail while they are away and my children get sick of me telling them to wear their bike helmets, cricket helmets, mouth guards, shin pads, boxes, sunscreen and anything else that is considered necessary for their activities.I grew up with my mother’s words ringing in my ears, “It’s not what you want to do, it’s what you have to do,” so you can imagine that me being a risk taker, law breaker or being in any way wild or spontaneous is probably highly unlikely. More than likely is that others know me as a controlled and conforming person.So, despite the fact that I leave my home and walk up my driveway with every good intention and my furry, four-legged friend on his lead, its not too long before my alter ego emerges and I break the rules. I guiltily look around to see if any of my neighbours are watching and then I nonchalantly drop the lead.He’s off, bum up head down, sniffing everything and anything on our path down the road.Before you ask, I will tell you – yes, I have watched the Dog Whisperer and tuned in to Dr Harry, I’ve looked up the internet and spoken to our vet. I have taken on board the advice of neighbours and friends who have experience. But seriously, for me, nothing works!Is it because my friend can sense what a soft touch I am, not to mention my secret fear of canines, which I have tried to keep under control since my family and I became pet owners many years ago.Or is it because my highly intelligent friend is just that – far too clever to be reined in by a flimsy piece of leather when a wonderful world of smells and scents is waiting for him to nose into, unhindered by a leash and a tottering woman on the other end.I know that Caesar Milan advises that we humans are the “leader of the pack” and that to begin with, we must keep our companion on a short leash in order to convey dominance and security.I have tried, truly I have. And I must admit my friend does respond very well, until his nostrils flare tantalisingly at the smell of newly deposited wombat scat or lusciously enticing freshly-dropped manure.Every few metres, when I’ve managed to get to him while he’s head down in roadkill or something just as appealing, I do pick the lead up again, and off we go, repeating our performance – my dog charging ahead, me hanging on for dear life – until once again, I quit and let it go.Why do I persist in this ridiculous charade of me-being-in-control-and-him-being-under-control? Probably because no one else in the family had the time or inclination to indulge in the dog walking tussle. Clever them!I have been tempted to tie my dog up while I take a walk, but he knows what I have planned and makes himself scarce, only to reappear when I’m halfway down the hill and without his leash.I must admit, while he’s off the leash, I feel deliciously relieved. My guilt is outweighed by a sense of freedom. Just as my mind is free to wander, my senses are free to experience my wondrous surroundings – the scent of freshly spread silage in the paddocks, the chirrups and caws of the crows, the taste of the season on my lips, the warmth of the sun on my skin and the sight of the land meeting sky and trees touching clouds. When I finally trudge through my front gate, with our dog puffing along beside me, it’s satisfying to know that I’ve accomplished yet another walk and that no other animals or humans have been hurt in the process.