My new neighbors have two big dogs. They are both beautiful. The male Australian Shepherd takes charge. The female mix-of-some-sort, Tilly, is active but usually quiet.
A couple weeks after moving, my doorbell rang around 9:30 p.m. I opened the door to find my neighbor chuckling as he asked, “Can I get into your yard?” Apparently, Tilly had escaped into my yard. She and my lab were gallivanting around my yard, happy to enjoy some pup play time. Tilly went home, and Della went to bed. My neighbor hoped Tilly wouldn’t escape again.
The next night, I was power-washing my house when Tilly appeared beside me. I grabbed a leash, walked her home, and slipped her into her yard since my neighbors were gone. I walked around the house, started the power washer again…and soon saw Tilly next to me again. I took her home again and repeated the pattern multiple times.
I decided there was no reason to continue. I was getting dark, and I didn’t want Tilly to get hurt jumping the fence or jumping into another direction without a safe yard with a friendly dog. I wrote a note for the neighbors then sat in a patio chair as Della and Tilly played and rested. I eventually fed and put my pup to bed, hoping Tilly would settle in and rest in my yard. I heard her people come home late.
The next night, I noticed my neighbor had added some stakes near the fence where Tilly had been escaping. Apparently, she wasn’t jumping the fence but slipping under it. She had already started trouble-shooting around the new obstacles and dug a big enough hole for her head and front legs to slip through. The other dog barked to discourage her, and my pup dropped a toy near the hole on our side of the fence – to entice or taunt her.
Of course, I want my dog to have a safe yard to call her own, but I’m also glad to know she and Tilly get along well.
There are good lessons each of us can learn from the pups’ adventures. What do we expect from the boundaries of “our space,” whether at home or work or in our relationships? How do we approach others with problems to solve? How flexible and patience are we? What does living alongside and loving others look like?