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The arroyo where I walk my dogs

Crisp early morning, mountains in the distance, warm sun on chilled shoulders, dogs bounding up the road – it doesn’t get much better than this. I love watching them run, the way they catch a scent. Muscles rippling under glossy coats, they dart up the hill and I stand transfixed.  In our neighborhood, most dogs run free and this is a good thing.

The other day, they took off after a rabbit. There wasn’t a chance in hell that they’d catch it, but the pursuit was joyous. Then another dog yipped and my dogs changed course. A minute later, a man started yelling. I whistled for my dogs and they returned. The ruckus, however, didn’t stop. The other dog, a little puffy white thing, kept yipping. His owner did the same. In a nasty, tight voice he called down the hill, chastising me for my dogs being off leash.

I observed that his dog was also off leash and happily wagging his tail. The man hurled an obscenity and followed it with this: “I have an invisible fence!”

His words gave me pause. How many invisible fences are out there? What barriers keep us from running free? I know I’ve experienced a painful shock when I get too close to an edge. Are old wounds invisible fences? Is fear?

I have to wonder. What might the man discover if he let his little dog play with mine? Would he know joy if the dog were allowed to run?

Invisible fences don’t protect us. They just keep us penned.