How high is your fence?

November 5, 2018 - 7.47 PM / Blog

Years ago, because I had no money, I got my wife a dog from the animal shelter for Christmas. It was probably the most expensive and emotionally draining present she has ever received from me. We called our new pet Tasha and watched as she grew, and grew into a blended canine of mostly greyhound descent, with just enough shepherd to make her both fast and large.

She could jump the six-foot-high fence around our back yard with ease. An animal trainer informed us that due to her greyhound disposition, she was very sensitive and highly driven to please. We were told to wait on the outside of the fence at the spot where she liked to jump and upon witnessing her escape, I was to grab her harshly, look into her eyes and scold her for doing a very bad thing. We were assured that after one or two such experiences, her jumping days would be over and to our surprise, the trainer was absolutely right. Tasha sulked in her dog house for two days and never jumped the fence again.

Some time later, we were going away for a weekend and I asked a friend if she would be willing to invite Tasha for a sleep-over at her house. She had a standard poodle, named Aries, and I envisioned the two dogs having a wonderful weekend together. My friend’s back yard backed onto a large park with only a 12-inch-high white picket fence separating the two areas. I was amused to witness that her standard poodle would run up to the fence and stop. She could have merely stepped over it, but she didn’t. The fence had been there when the poodle was born, and the fact that it represented an impassable barrier during the formative stages of her life remained effective even now as the adult dog towered over the pickets.

That was until Aries saw our Tasha scale the fence without so much as a leap. I can only imagine what must have been going through that poor poodle’s mind as she witnessed the escape of the century. How could this other dog, no bigger than her, just leave the yard so effortlessly? Years of peering over the barrier, as families and other dogs enjoyed the splendours of the unattainable park that was a mere 12 inches away, were washed away in a split-second.

I can tell you that my friend was not at all happy about her pet’s new-found revelation, but how could anyone not be thrilled for Aries as her unreasonable mental restriction had been obliterated? ‘What else am I capable of?’ she must have wondered as she prepared for a future life of new possibilities.

As you read this, I hope you can appreciate how each of us, in certain ways, hold ourselves back merely because we don’t believe we are capable of something. We are conditioned to see things the way we always have. Perhaps it’s time for us to step over a few fences and see what is possible.

Contributed by Jack Richardson

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