Theo, our two-and-a-half-year-old dog, excitedly jumped up and down and let out a high-pitched bark. I pulled out the harness—we were going for a walk. Our new nine-week-old puppy Margeaux Rose, gazed at us.
I hitched the brand-spanking new pink flowered leash to her collar and off we went. Theo bounded out the door as he always does. Margeaux, however, did not share the same excitement. This new thing around her neck seemed restrictive; she felt imprisoned.
We had only had Margeaux for eight days, and already she had experienced the freedom of running in the fenced backyard with Theo. Yet, that was the extent of her freedom. The leash and harness opened up new vistas, new worlds to be explored. The fence in the backyard kept her from running out into the road and getting splattered. The leash and harness would be necessary to teach her how not to run out in front of a car or run off to her own demise.
The first half of our brief walk required a lot of stopping, cajoling, and gently pulling. At times, Margeaux would frolic like a billy goat up behind Theo and nip at his white, cotton-like fur. But, mostly, for her it was more of a war against the collar and leash. By the second half of our walk, Margeaux started to get the hang of it—less stopping, less gentle pulling. Her freedom, which seemed restrictive at first, enlarged to new dimensions.
I think the goal for Margeaux and for most dogs would be something that I recently learned on a trail walk with my grand-dog, Luna, a golden retriever. Once we got away from people and dogs and distractions, Luna's leash could be removed; she freely frolicked on the trail and responded simply to our voice. She had incredible levels of freedom that went beyond the leash. Her leash had been simply necessary to elevate her to new levels of freedom.
On that same trail walk with Luna, I was pleasantly surprised when we removed Theo's leash… he had learned by puppy training with the leash to stay close to us so that his freedom did not become his disaster. This is our same goal for Margeaux Rose!