Why the Caged Dog Barks

23 Feb

camp_dog_in_cage_largeNeh-nah-nah-neh-neh, the golden retriever seemed to yelp as it raced back and forth outside a chain-linked fence causing the pair of dogs inside to bark frenetically.  You can’t get me, the oddly peppy dog implied. The sight stopped me in my tracks. The sole difference between the animals was their status in the human world: on one side stood an abandoned stray, on the other two pets with owners. But that distance embodied by the rattling fence made them enemies.  

I must admit I’m no  fan of dogs. Most of my encounters with the four-legged beasts have been greetings through growls, howls and the occasional baring of teeth. This caged pair was no different.  Each time I walked past, the little black mutt would rush to the fence with vigor with its much larger and browner companion lumbering behind. They would proceed to sound the alarm with their snouts faithfully: only in extreme heat or cold would they abandon their posts. I secretly dubbed them Beavis and Butthead.

Thus the site of these confined bullies being taunted by one of their own initially made me grin. That’s what you get for the countless barks, I laughed. But my revenge quickly gave way to simpathy. How helpless they must feel to be unable to save the house and home they were purchased to protect. Can you imagine your entire existence being on something that you could not truly accomplish. Sure, they could perform mouth service and let their owners know whenever something strange approached. But could they actually ward off an attack? They couldn’t even keep one of their own kind from invading the yard, for goodness sake.

I can always identify the new dogs in the neighborhood from the old. Fresh pets are particularly vigilant on their watch. They sound the alarm dutifully at every person, creature or leaf remotely near their new home. But as the days wear on, most let up. They seem to learn that no matter how hard or long they bark, people, creatures and leaves will continue to breeze through their territory.

Slowly but surely, their barks melt into  half-hearted yelps at passerbys. Their spirit wanes as they accept for the inevitable daily invasion of the property they were brought to protect.

How many of us are the same way? Though we are not locked behind a fence tethered to a ball and chain, many of us learn to see obstacles we were unable to climb, beat down or escape in our youth as lifelong limitations and live a live behind the bars of our own fears. =Whenever you feel helpless, remember the story of the elephant’s tether. How do humans rule one of the largest and most powerful creatures in the world and get them to perform circus tricks? Once upon a time, trainers tied baby elephants legs’ with rope to a stake in the ground when they were young and too small to pull the rope from the stake and free themselves. elephant-chain

Countless rope burns later, the young elephants slowly learn to accept that pulling the rope from the stake is impossible. As they grow older and stronger, the trainers continued to tie the creatures to the stake purely for symbolism. A full grown elephant could easily snap that rope to pieces, but by that time they’ve long given up on freedom and have surrendered to a life of servitude.

“None but ourselves can free our minds.”



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