THE LULU CHRONICLES
Meet Atticus Cleveland, the Houdini of Labradoodles. Atticus lives with me on a lovely three- acre plot with a pond and about a hundred trees. A dog’s dream, right? But where is this canine’s Promise Land? It’s the next field over smeared in fertilizer. He has bitten through rope, leash and steel cables to get to this smelly field of liquid cow dung. Rolling on his back and burying his head into the mushy goo is what he lives for. It’s an obsession, a calling.
Last summer my son installed an invisible fence around most of the acreage. I wanted my brilliant hound to be able to run free without fear of being run over by the mailman or getting lost in a hostile world. I love him this much. How does he repay me? He figured out how to rub up against the garage, a tree stump or anything else handy to unlatch his collar, his jail keeper. The collar carries the transmitter that beeps wildly if he gets too close to the perimeter of the fence. If he ignores the beeps, there is a price to pay. However, I’ve lost count how many times now I’ve had to walk around these three acres to find that stupid collar. The dog is nothing if not persistent. He is relentless when it comes to his passion. There is no ditch deep enough or voltage high enough to keep him from the call of rich, smelly earth.
I envy him.
I encounter roadblocks to my dreams and quit. Not Atticus. I get disheartened when things don’t go my way and feel defeated. Not Atticus. I want to crawl back into bed, pull the covers up and moan when someone or something puts the skids under my plans, But not Atticus. He sees the roadblock and figures out how to circumvent it. He feels the backward tug of limitations and chews his way through them. You put him in a box and he’ll kick the sides out.
My life is extremely difficult right now. Nobody would want to walk in my shoes. I couldn’t trade lives with anyone, even if I paid them. People feel sorry for me. I feel sorry for me. My life is full of limits, boundaries and obstacles. A collar is around my neck and threatens to knock the curl right out of my tail if I get too close to freedom. I yelp for help and all it gets me is a tighter collar.
What to do? “Watch Atticus,” a quiet inner voice prods. I look for him. He’s not in the yard. I spy the collar lying on the ground by the evergreens, blinking at me, mocking me. I call for my dog, clap my hands, as is our way, and he finally comes running, ears flapping, paws caked in what I desperately hope is just mud and he leaps onto the deck and sits at my feet. He smells like rich, gooey, fertilized God-given earth. This boy knows how it’s done.