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May 16, 2005

Fatherhood, dumb horses and stupid dogs

We were heading out the door, Saturday, when our dog, Sandy got out. Sandy's a chocolate lab we got as a puppy in the parking lot of a nearby Wal-Mart. She was really malnourished, so much so her stomach was bloated (the people giving her away, lied and said they'd just fed her) She was also loaded down with parasites, but after a few vet visits and lots of good food she looked a lot better. Sandy's a whole lot calmer than the dog we had before, which was a border collie, but she's not anywhere as bright.

When Sandy gets out she ignores us like we're strangers until the whim hits her to pay us some attention. It's really frustrating to try to coax her back into the fence. She'll go all over the place, while we yell, "Sandy, come!" Through barbed wire, out into tall grass, through people's yards. I want to strangle her soooo bad. But if I let my anger come out in my voice, then she'll definitely not come to us.

It made me think about some thing's I'd learned about the culture a long time ago. When a boy gets older and wants independence, today he gets a car, but at one time it was a horse. Sure he could walk, but a horse got him further and faster, and made him look older to his friends. But being allowed, let alone able, to handle a horse meant that he had to prove that to his father. I know enough about horses to know that while they're beautiful and fast, they're really dumb.

To handle a horse you need an incredible amount of patience and self-control. If you lose your temper the horse won't trust you, and that's the one thing you need the most, its trust. So you have to be calm and patient no matter how stupid and annoying the horse is. There's no better training for being a father (I would add husband, but my wife told me I'd better not). Most people, especially teenage boys, don't need to handle horses these days, so potential fathers are trained by learning to handle cars, which can stand all kinds of shouting and abuse and still take you where you want them to.

Later that afternoon Sandy got out again. My boys helped me get her, and as we worked together, I reminded them that they couldn't get angry at her, because it'd just scare her off. They played the part and sweet talked her back into the fence. Even then we had to be nice or she'd associate the area inside the fence as a bad place.

I like the idea of training my boys to be good fathers. We can't afford a horse, but for now it seems idiot dogs work almost as well.

Posted by Danny Carlton at May 16, 2005 04:46 PM

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