Another busy week.  But it wasn’t that bad.  I worked only two days away from home – Tuesday and Thursday.  Thursday I was even home a bit early, at 6pm.  So the dogs haven’t been too neglected.  I had them out to the farm Monday and Friday, and Wednesday we went hiking and then to agility, followed by a trip to the chiropractor. They seem pretty content – relatively mellow around the house, and not too clingy with me.  This seems to be a good balance.

Wednesday afternoon I loaded all four dogs into the car and took them to the conservation area for a run.  I usually only take one or two at a time, but lately it has been so deserted that I figured there’d be a strong likelihood that I’d have the place to myself and could let all four run as much as they wanted.  I was right.  What a wonderful option this is for me.  I’m not good at estimating distances, but based on farms I know, I’d say this conservation are is a good 200 acres of forest, meadows, streams and a marsh.  When I explore the back paths, it takes about 1.5 hours to do a full loop of the perimeter.  And much of the time, I have the whole place to myself.  This is the sort of area I need to live near, until I have property of my own.  It’s amazing to let the dogs run free in such wilderness.  It does something to them; it brings out their inner wolf – a magical, healing state of being.  They can express their wildness to their heart’s content.  They run, they stock, they chase.  They mouse, they hunt.  And then they return gentle, quiet, relaxed; once again domestic beasts.

I discovered the healing power of the inner wolf when I first brought Ross home.  He was such a broken soul, physically and mentally.  I used to call him my puddle dog – he would lie like a black puddle of fur at my feet, moving only to get up and follow me, settling in a fresh puddle wherever I stopped.  I never knew that animals could be depressed before, but Ross was definitely depressed.  There was a big, black hole of sadness surrounding him.  I had seen the sadness before I took him home, and it had disturbed me.  Others had noticed it too.  It was part of the reason his last home had given him to me.  They knew he needed something that they were not able to provide.

Every day I took Ross for hikes in the woods.  There, he would come alive.  He was a different dog.  He was my little back wolf, running wild and free.  I wondered if he had ever had the opportunity to run in a forest before.  I suspect he hadn’t, having been found roaming the back alleys of New York City.  And while his rescuers lived in the country, they kept him in a fenced area, or on leash.

I let him run free.

During those early walks, Ross would run and run and run and run and run.  It was like he had to make up for all the running he had missed in his first couple of years.  Or perhaps he was running for the joy of a healing body, once so broken and full of pain.  He would go absolutely wild, racing and charging, chasing squirrels, and leaping about just for the joy of it all.  It brought tears to my eyes to watch him.  Tears of joy, but also tears of sorrow, wondering what exorcism he was undertaking.  I wondered what demons he was running from, or – hopefully – chasing away.  I’ve never encountered such an emotionally complex dog.

Today Ross is not so frantic about his freedom.  Over time, the inner wolf healed his injuries, and – more importantly – his heart.  It has been a long time since I have seen the puddle dog; the black and sadness is gone, hopefully for good.  It took several years, but Ross seems to believe finally that this is permanent.  That he will always have this freedom, and this ability to let loose his inner wolf.

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