This backyard has seen a lot of life over the years. The evidence is everywhere. The abandoned tree house perched in the antique apple tree is In the northeast corner. It was a secret fort pieced together with scavenged boards and bulky knotted ropes. There is a long view of the river beyond the fence from this look-out.
One could see unwanted intruders advancing for miles. By the looks of the boards nailed to the tree for steps there were many hours spent on patrol for pirates, double agents outer space aliens, or other outlaws To me this is a clear case of Location: Location: Location as an advantage.
Leaning up against the tree are bicycle parts, a tired looking tire swing and various unidentified, yet obvious treasures. in the northwest corner is a hole heading for China. The kid- a sized shovel is still there waiting for the next shift to continue the project.
I am sitting at what I imagine used to be third base waiting for the puppies to be carried down a long set of unpainted wooden stairs to the place where they will be set free to “exercise”.
Bubba, the biggest one, is the first out of the cardboard box. He heads East toward the river like a man on a mission. The only thing that stops Bubba from marching all the way to Kansas is the gray chain linked fence at the periphery of the property.
Little Girl on the other hand, never leaves the first spot of patchy lawn her tiny feet touch. She whines and quivers until I pick her up to cradle her in the safety of my lap. Experiencing the cool mountain air, that I personally find so revitalizing, is not what she wants.
The other three pure white puppies are unnamed. Two of the puppies tumble over the child-worn ground and bite each other’s ears until a painful yelp calls “Uncle”.
The remaining puppy is different. Small like Little Girl, she has ripe apricot colored fur on her ears. This puppy leaves the safety of the circle and runs as fast as she can through the almost- ready- to- be- cut, summer green grass. Stopping at an invisible boundary, she sniffs at the river scented air, turns on all four wheels, and runs back to the “Den”.
Here she awaits the praise and pleasure of human touch. That’s the puppy I fall in love with against all Sage advice. And she will soon have a name.
The puppies taught me that small steps increase confidence. First they each ventured out and away from their mother as far as their fear would allow.
Successfully returning unharmed, they learned their limits and pushed against them day by day. They were headed for freedom. Each had a tip for building self-confidence:
Little Girl taught me that feeling ready was a powerful element of developing self-confidence.
Bubba taught me that risking life and limb to follow the dream isn’t always a bad idea.
The two biting puppies taught me that playfulness is a great way to test limits.
The puppy with the apricot ears taught me to trust and delight in one’s accomplishments.