Back to Nature (Published on - July 7, 2004)
Harsh words for Back to Nature
Ruby’s getting older. It’s apparent from the way she carefully holds her left leg to the side, the cloud shadows in her eyes and she becomes out of breath halfway through our morning walks.

I don’t mind lifting her into the Jeep but as I hold her in my arms I’m reminded of when she used to leap right onto the seat jumping and twisting with joy. Ruby’s getting older and I can’t help but wonder what my world will be without her someday. She’s my best friend and has been for nearly 13 years now, my confidante, my strength, my never faltering soul mate.

I remember when we first laid eyes on one another. She’d been a show dog. A tall, sleekly groomed black standard poodle and except for one slightly crooked front tooth she would have gone on to palaces and kings but she chose down to earth me and back woods paths, canoe rides and stood by me with friendship in our garden. We’ve been through rough times – sometimes mine, sometimes hers. We’ve seen each other through tears and serious illness and never once did she complain.

She has always understood I wouldn’t intentionally hurt or harm her. She has always understood that what ever I have had to do to her, no matter how painful at the time, I loved her so much it had to be for her own good. She’d submit. She’d never fight. We have unconditional love for each other. She can count on me and I can count on her. Life is predictable with each other in that we trust each other undeniably.

Ruby is my domesticated partner but she is still a wild animal. Underneath that suave exterior rumbles the heart of a wolf. This morning she saw a rabbit leap into the bushes and her disposition shifted. She was for a moment a hunter, ears perked, steady and poised, ready for the kill. This is to be expected. She is an animal. I can play with her, rough house with her, push her, run from her and she loves and respects me enough to never even think of attacking me. She has proven that loyalty for many years, but there in the bushes is dinner and she still recognizes that.

We often hear people say wild animals are unpredictable. I’m amused by this comment because it seems to me we would not consider them unpredictable if we didn’t have such an overwhelming desire to personify them as furry human beings.

They are wild animals. And I’ll declare that I’m not putting my hand on any animal wild or domesticated if I’m not certain that I have a long standing rapport with that animal. Even your best domesticated friend can bite out of pain. That is not unpredictable. What is unpredictable is a human putting their hand into the mouth or within the safe boundaries of the animal. We are the wild cards. We make mistakes. We live on this planet and assume we can control everything within our fingertips and have the “rights” to do so.

We are in control. We are out of control.

Do you say what you mean? Humans justify their existence based on their wants and desires not needs anymore. I will do this for you if you will give me that which I desire. I won’t do this for you unless you do this for me.

Animals relate on a totally different level. You do this for me I will do this for you. You can count on it. Don’t think of messing with me; keep your boundaries and all goes well. I like you. You like me. Let’s get together.

Responsibilities come without question. Food, water, shelter, play, protection and family. There it is in a nutshell. It may not always seem balanced, but wild animals work together in flocks or herds or packs for each member, themselves and the preservation of the species. They are wild animals.

Who are we? Are we so different? I worry about our civilization. I’m afraid.

We will not survive as a species without all other species. We are a circle. Will you do all those things that make our future better for others or will you lay there in you bed and wield your will about blaming the plight of the world on others instead of accepting your own path and responsibility for the children of tomorrow?

You are in control. We are out of control.

Karen can be reached at

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