April 22, 2015

Shocked and Safe

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.

Adapted from an October 1968 general conference address.
That horse was very clever—sometimes too clever for his own good.
President David O. McKay

Painting by Alvin Gittins

“I wish I could say to every young man [and young woman] in this Church, that if you would be successful, if you would be happy, if you would conserve your strength, intellectual, physical, and spiritual, you will resist temptation to indulge your appetites and your passions.” President David O. McKay, in Conference Report, Apr. 1945, 123.

I had great pleasure in training a well-bred colt. He had a good disposition, a clean, well-rounded eye, was well proportioned, and all in all, a choice animal. Under the saddle he was as willing, responsive, and cooperative as a horse could be. He and my dog Scotty were real companions. I liked the way he would go up to something of which he was afraid. He had confidence that if he would do as I bade him, he would not be injured.

But my horse Dandy resented restraint. He was ill contented when tied and would nibble at the tie rope until he was free. He would not run away; he just wanted to be free. Thinking other horses felt the same, he would proceed to untie their ropes. He hated to be confined in the pasture, and if he could find a place in the fence where there was only smooth wire, he would paw the wire carefully with his feet until he could step over to freedom. More than once my neighbors were kind enough to put him back in the field. He learned even to push open the gate. Though he often did damage that was provoking and sometimes expensive, I admired his intelligence and ingenuity.

But his curiosity and desire to explore the neighborhood led him and me into trouble. Once on the highway he was hit by an automobile, resulting in a demolished machine, injury to the horse, and slight, though not serious, injury to the driver.

Recovering from that, and still impelled with a feeling of wanderlust, he inspected the fence throughout the entire boundary. He found even the gates wired. So for a while we thought we had Dandy secure in the pasture.

One day, however, somebody left the gate unwired. Detecting this, Dandy unlatched it, took another horse with him, and together they visited the neighbor’s field. They went to an old house used for storage. Dandy’s curiosity prompted him to push open the door. There was a sack of grain. What a find! Yes, and what a tragedy! The grain was poison bait for rodents! In a few minutes Dandy and the other horse were in spasmodic pain, and shortly both were dead.

How like Dandy are many of you young people! You are not bad; you do not even intend to do wrong; but you are impulsive, full of life, full of curiosity, and long to do something. You too are restless under restraint, but if left to wander without direction, you all too frequently find yourselves in the environment of temptation and too often are entangled in the snares of evil.

I want all the little ones under my care to be safe and happy.

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.
Silly pup.
Aren't fresh eggs beautiful?!!


Stephanie said...

Thanks for sharing! Mind if I use your post as our next FHE lesson? I'm serious! We're having some disobedience issues right now, and I think they'd love the animal stories and it would be a great reminder why obedience is so important. ;)

jenifer said...

Don't mind at all!

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