"If you love something set it free. If it comes back to you, it's yours. If it doesn't, it never was."
This is by no means a recipe of what you should do with your dog(s). It is by no means advice either. It is what we decided for our dogs. It's been working for us (and them) so far, even though there is an inherent risk with it.
Freedom, trust and responsibility. To what degree can these apply to life with dogs?
The safest place for a dog is right by their owner's hip. That is a fact.
If it was up to me, I would, indeed, have Cookie glued to my hip at all times, or have her safely tucked away in some kind of protective bubble.
What kind of life would that be for her?
With Jasmine we never had to worry. She had an invisible leash in her mind and would never go past a certain distance from us, no matter what the situation. JD likes to stick close as well, though he would go chase after something quite a ways.
And then there is Cookie. Sweet and loving, but let's face it, half wild in her heart. She grew up on her own. She's used to being on her own. And she's used to roam every time she managed to get free from her lead line.
Her prey drive is strong.
We now live on land that is large and there are no fences anywhere. If would cost a fortune to fence the entire property. There were no fences at the horse farm either, other than those for the horses.
The last thing we want for Cookie is to end up on a lead line once again.
We had a decision to make. Either keep her tied up or let her be free taking on the risks that brings.
We've been working hard on establishing a strong bond. We've been training her. And we decided to give her the freedom she never had.
The rest is up to her.
She'd have to learn that with freedom comes responsibility. Can a dog wrap their mind around that concept? Many people can't.
Not counting the weekends spent at the farm, Cookie's had her freedom for three weeks now.
And we still have two dogs!
Cookie chooses to be with us. Risks aside, it feels good to know that it is her choice to be here. Because if it wasn't, she could have been long gone. We have an answer to the question, "would she be with us if she had the choice not to be?"
She's also making some good decisions and listening quite well.
Yes, every now and then she'll take off into the bush after something. Her prey drive IS very strong. But, clearly, she always comes back and you can see she is happy to do so.
The place where we live is relatively safe.
There is one gravel road going through here. There is the odd car or motorcycle; you could probably count them if you wanted it, that's how few there are.
The dogs are not allowed on the road.
We reinforce that rule the best we can. The road isn't all that interesting anyway.
The rest is bush in all directions. Yes, bad things can happen in the bush also. But it's either that or being tied up. We decided that Cookie spent enough of her life being tied up. And we hope we won't live to regret our decision.
But Cookie is showing good sense.
We have a proof. We still have two dogs.
She loves our daily routines. In the morning we get up and go for a walk, followed by breakfast. Then we have some coffee, play a bit of training games and go to work in the bush. Cookie can either help or run around, chasing after whatever catches her fancy. She usually manages both.
When we return I have to get on the computer to get some paying work done. Whenever possible, I leave the office door open so the dogs can come in and out as they please. Cookie does really well hanging around until the next walk or whatever we might be doing.
The rest of the day is a variety of things depending on what needs to be done and the weather. Cookie likes to hunt after mice either around the trailer or in the near by field.
The day is concluded with more walks and dinner. Oh, yeah, and there is lunch somewhere in between.
Choice has been taken away from the dogs.
The choice of when and where to go, the choice where and with whom to be, the choice of what and how long to sniff, the choice of what and when to eat ...
What happens when they get some of it back?
This is how farm dogs used to live in the past. Our circumstance aren't all that different from those back then.
So far so good.
More importantly, we believe that this is the best choice we could have made for Cookie. Hopefully we're right.
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat
Observation Skills Of Dogs
If You Want Your Dog To Do Something, Teach It
Tricks? It's Not Just About The Tricks
What Constitutes The Perfect Dog?
Are Dog Training Classes Really For The Dogs?
Look Where You Want To Go: Finding My Reactive Dog Training Zen Zone?
Dog Training And Emotions
Dog Training And Emotions: Postscript
Dogs Love Sentences In Question Form?
Not All Dog Trainers Were Created Equal Either
A Thought On Separation Anxiety
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!