We live on 11 acres of beautiful fields and woods. When we adopted Rocco from the pound he was just a puppy and we had dreams of him running and exploring with our kids out back. Honestly, we live in a dog paradise.
Rocco loves to play. He is a well-trained dog inside and outside IF there are no other animals around. When he sees another dog, his tail wags and he darts to them to play chase. He also chases chickens. He has never eaten a chicken, but he chases them and carries them, and kills them. (Two so far.) They lay dead on the ground while he nudges them with his nose. I may be naive, but I think he is shepherding them a little too rough.
He behaves well on a leash, but off the leash he darts. We live off a busy road, he is not afraid of cars and is going to get killed in the street if we don't figure something out.
Because he is unreliable, we leave him fenced in while we work and play in the yard or barn, which is tortuous to him. He wants to be with us. He wants to play with the dogs that go for walks in our yard. We want to be able to trust him.
After two years of trying unsuccessfully to train him off-collar, we bought a remote control shock collar. I really love it.
Rocco knows the word "no" and "come". When I take him out to the field, I let him run, but I can tell when he hears something in the woods and wants to bolt.
He stands at the edge of the woods with that look in his eyes. I call for him to come. He bolts into the woods. I say "Rocco Come" loudly and beep his collar. He continues into the woods. I say "No", and shock him. He stops, looks at me, tail still wagging, and runs away again. I say "Come!" and shock again one degree higher. He barks, turns, and runs back to me.
He really understands.
I love watching his choice process.
I love watching the instinct vs training war in his head.
He almost shakes with desire to chase the chicken or deer, even as he knows I'm telling him not to.
My favorite part is feeling how absolutely happy he is when he runs back to my side, with his tail wagging. He feels how proud we are of him, and he is happy.
Last night our whole family went for a walk in the field. We all played catch and Rocco ran safely with us. Because we have a way to keep him safe, we can take him with us when we walk.
He comes when I call him now. His incentive to listen has become greater than his incentive to run.
I guess what I love most about this story is that we can enjoy him so much more because he has learned to obey.
This reminded me about a story we taught for Family Home Evening.
We all memorized Alma 37:35.
35 O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God. (Book of Mormon, Alma, Alma 37)
We talked about Dandy, President David O McKay's horse.
I believe that they are happiest when they learn to be obedient to my voice and to keep the commandments of God. "In this there is safety and peace."
I know it.
I saw that again yesterday with my puppy.
Life, with boundaries, is beautiful and safe.
I love my job.