The split rail fence that surrounds the house is about three feet tall. When I walk by it, I feel very tall. It’s decorative; too short to keep in an animal. The rails are about a foot apart. So it’s purely decorative.
Or so I thought. Last year the family that lives in the house adopted a Rottweiler, and shortly afterwards, a Rottweiler puppy. Rottweilers are big dogs, an adult male weighs more than 100 pounds. These two dogs were friendly–when I walked ,by they stood on the fence and wagged their tails so hard each body swayed. When I approached, the larger one put his paws on my shoulders, licked my face and pulled my earphones out of my ears–accidentally. Getting them back was not easy–the big guy thought it was a game and the little one stuck his head under the fence and untied my shoelaces.
Finally untangled, shoes tied, earphones in place, I continued on my walk. Both dogs could easily have ignored the fence and followed me, but neither did. For them, it was the end of their property and the puny split rail fence might as well have been 10-feet tall and made of iron sheets. The owner confirmed that neither dog had ever jumped the fence, no matter how tempting the running cat, the escaped ball, the newsboy on his bike.
My own yard is surrounded by a block fence six feet tall. The first day Buster (my 10-pound tuxedo cat) encountered it, he thought it marked the end of the known world.
Then he watched a bird fly from the orange tree over the fence.
Without taking a running jump, he hopped up the fence as if it were a sidewalk, making it to the top in two leaps. From there, he could see the rest of the world, and as the fence runs the length of the block, he began to explore.
He’s had many adventures, and a few misadventures from the top of that fence, but he has never treated it as a boundary. As a step, yes; a walkway, sure; a jumping off point, certainly.
It took me two years to train him not to leave the edges of the yard, and he no longer jumps off the fence into anyone else’s yard (largely because one neighbor has a pit bull and the other a Doberman) but I never could master keeping him off the wall altogether. It’s his window seat to the world.
We create our own reality as surely as those dogs and cats do. The dogs refuse to jump over a fence that comes up to their chests; the cat scales a fence that’s six times his height–without a second thought. To the dogs, the fence is the end of their permitted world; to the cat, the fence is a way to see the world.
If we think we can’t get over something, we surely won’t. If we think of an obstacle as insurmountable, it will be. If we want to run up a fence to see over the top, we can do that, too. We can have obedient dog mind and stay with the reminder of a few sticks. We can create mischievous cat mind and hurtle ourselves into the unknown. The decision is always yours. You create your own reality.
—-Quinn McDonald tries to be an obedient rule-follower, but occasionally, the block wall needs to be hurdled.