Two of the greatest teachers in my life are my children. There is no doubt in my mind that parenting has taught me more than any other life experience. My lovely daughter offered a lesson today on the way home from school.
Every conscious man who has ever raised a daughter can testify to a special bond between himself and “daddy’s girl”. This idol status can be amusing, but one has to be careful when they know they are on a pedestal. It takes a lot to foul up, but when you do it is more critical than if you were just an ordinary guy. Today my status suffered a slight stumble.
We have two dogs. We took in both, mixed breed dogs, after they were abandoned in the country.
We live at the intersection of country and city. Horses and cows in two directions; new subdivisions in the other two. Thousands of acres of woods and farmland are within walking distance replete with ponds and streams. This area is rich with Deer, Wild Turkey, Raccoon, Possum, Skunks, and many other creatures. It would be a doggy paradise except for little things like leash laws.
Both of our dogs constantly yearn to run and will do so at any given opportunity. I have to keep them chained, even though my yard is fenced, so that I do not have to pay any fines for recovering them from the city pound. Overcoming the minor obstacle of the fence has never been a real challenge for either of our dogs.
This morning I made the silly mistake of waiting until the last possible minute to put the dogs out. As I was walking the first one out, the second busted past me in a surprisingly slick move and she was gone.
I called for her to return, but she had travelling on her mind and although she paused to acknowledge hearing me, she chose to ignore my commands and headed off for a day of frolic. (One day I would love to attach a mini cam just to see what she gets into, on a full day run.)
Despite my best efforts at calm and peacefulness, having a dog disobey me, (the supposed master), did not contribute to my positive mental attitude.
I went about my business but I said goodbye to the dog; telling it through mental telepathy that I would not bail her out if the puppy patrol put her away. If she received my signal, she revealed no confirmation.
Anyway, when I picked my daughter up from school I just happened to mention that Cady might be missing once we got home. Now a sensible man would have stopped there, but it was my day to chisel away at my imaginary pedestal so I added this goofy statement. “I’ll tell you this! If she has been impounded by the K9 cops, I will not be paying her fines this time.”
“Why not?” My daughter demanded. “Is it just the money?”
“Well, partially it’s the money. It will be $ 65.00 plus a fine for not having registered the dog. Probably over a hundred before all is said and done. But mostly it is because I am angry with her.” I insisted. “I will not keep a disobedient dog, period!”
Well I noticed that my adoring daughter had her head turned away from me and had not said a single word for over 5 minutes. So, I asked, “Are you mad at me?”
“Yes, I am.” She replied now looking at me with tears streaming down her face.
“Why does this upset you so much?” I wondered out loud. “Cady obviously does not care for her living arrangements here or she would not run off every time she has a chance, would she?” I cleverly remarked.
I have never noticed my daughter spending much time with this dog, so I could not imagine that the thought of losing her would be so painful. In my mind I have given Cady a nice home, complete with an abundance of food, good water, and even her own doggy bed for over two years now. If she is silly enough to leave all that behind for a few minutes of chasing some neighbors cows or barking at penned-up doggies, then “see you later gal” is my attitude.
“You still haven’t answered me love?” I repeated with the question implied.
In a warm and tender moment that brings tears to my eyes as I write this, my daughter said, “Dad, you just don’t understand. If Cady is at the pound, no one will adopt her. Who would pick her? She is three years old and not even housebroken. She is not even pretty like Casey. No one would pick her and that means they will kill her.”
Then I remembered that the only reason I kept the dog in the first place was because we could not find a home for her and did not want her to be destroyed by Animal Control. My heart softened. I felt sad for having been so calloused.
As we pulled into the driveway, there stood Cady in the back yard, tail wagging and ready for some supper.
I have resolved to repair my fence in an effort to prevent any future escapes.
Mostly, however, I am determined to consider my daughter’s feelings with a little more compassion before spouting some anger-based dribble.
Children are such incredible teachers. Thank You Father, for mine!
Elliott Teters copyright 2003 firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Elliott Teters. I live in Kansas City, Kansas. I am happily married and blessed to be the father of two incredible children. I sell real estate to pay the bills and I write for fun. I would love to hear your comments!