Published in the Rains County Leader on July 2, 2019:
This is a tale of two dogs – pun intended – and a tale of dreams. Both of the dogs live in my neighborhood, and both are dreamers. Culture encourages dreams – the bigger, the better. Whatever you can conceive, you can achieve. Just do it! One of the dogs in this tale has really big dreams while the other one is more conservative. One is happy, and one is not.
The first dog lives about a mile from us, and we pass his house on the way out to the highway. He’s a cute little thing – black with a white mask over one eye – but I don’t know his name. He’s pretty well trained, staying in his yard or at least close to it without need of a fence or leash. He does, however, have a thing for cars. When he first moved into the area, I worried that he was going to get run over. As a car approached, he would go to the edge of the road at the corner of his yard. He would stare at the car until it was a few feet away, then he’d wheel around and run as hard as he could until he was several yards past the other corner of his yard.
I don’t know what his dream was – whether it was to catch one of those big noisy creatures with the spinning feet, or if it was just to run faster than it did. In either case, I’m afraid he fell short. Last Thursday I was on my way to get a haircut, and as I neared his house, he took his usual position by the road. I slowed a little bit, just in case he darted out, but he didn’t move. Instead of chasing me, he just watched me drive by before turning back toward whatever he was doing before I disturbed him. Maybe he’d lowered his expectations and was checking to see if I was going stop in for a visit, or maybe he’d given up altogether and was just watching the world pass by. Either way, it appeared that he had given up the chase, and he looked a little bit sad.
Then there’s Floppy. Her story is much like Kitty’s. Connie and Charles, our across-the-street neighbors, found her on their doorstep, and after checking them out, she moved right into their home and their hearts. She’s not allowed to run loose like some of the neighborhood dogs, but she has a good life. She sleeps on Charles’s bed every night, and she always gets a treat when they go out to eat. Connie recently had a small part of the yard fenced in, both to keep the critters out of her garden and to allow Floppy to have some space to run free.
Floppy has always been an ambitious dog. She keeps watch out the storm door or the screened porch and lets the birds know when they’re too loud or the rabbits or stray cats and dogs are too close to the house. She dreamed of getting up close and personal with the intruders, and her fenced yard now allows her to scatter the birds and intimidate the four-footed trespassers. But she’s a hunter, and she wanted something she could get her teeth into, literally. That’s when she discovered the moles.
In addition to being a hunter, Floppy’s a digger. When she heard underground noises, she began to dig. Connie tries to direct her digging so she tills up a new garden area rather than digging up growing plants, but it’s hard to control the path of the moles. Regardless, Connie loves watching the sheer joy as Floppy exercises her natural instincts and follows her dreams – and occasionally supplements her diet when she’s successful.
I’m all for dreams – sometimes, the bigger the better. But there are other times when dreams need to be modified. Conventional wisdom says that success happens when preparation meets opportunity. The same can be said about dreams, but the problem is that opportunities are often limited. There is only one United States President every four to eight years, and the “Big Five” publishing houses only release five or six books a year. So, teach the young – and the young at heart – to dream, prepare, and look for opportunities. But also teach them that there is no shame in shifting your dreams from capturing a two-ton car to running down a pesky mole. Looking back on my life, I feel pretty good about the moles I’ve captured.