January 15, 2004

Earlier this week, I took my dog and a friend’s dog for a hike up on the mountain behind my house. I have been trying to get out in the woods often. I never really appreciated what a great natural resource our state forests are until I did not have them last year. We spent too many days in a hospital, and too few outside enjoying the beauty of nature.

We had some snow squalls earlier in the day, and there was a little less than an inch of snow on the ground. My dog, Sophie, is a 10-month-old Weimaraner, and we have only had her for about a month. I was using a retractable leash that gave her a little freedom, but insured that I maintained control. My friend’s dog is a 4-year-old chocolate lab who is well trained and can be trusted off the leash.

When we started on our hike, Sophie would pull every now and again, but I figured she would learn that she only had so much lead after a while. I was hoping that she would give up on being first since she was on the leash and my friend’s dog was not. Sophie is really, really strong, and at some points I felt like she was pulling me up the mountain. My commands of “no pulling” were deafly ignored. Sophie bounded forward jerking me along after her. Finally, I decided to use another shorter non-retractable leash to make Sophie heel. That was no better. She pulled and yanked, and I responded to her repeatedly with corrective jerks and heel commands.

After about an hour of hiking, I was starting to really regret having decided to take the hike. I was tired. The hike was no fun for Sophie or me. The peace I longed for in the woods was replaced with a battle for control.

The trail turned to begin the descent down to a lower trail on the mountain. I knew the trail well. It is rocky and steep. With the snow, I knew that the hike down would be treacherous.

And then I had a moment of inspiration…a moment of insight that transcended the space and time of my particular situation. What I started to realize is that sometimes our desire to control an uncontrollable situation makes us tired and unhappy. It makes us anxious and affects the beings around us negatively. And sometimes, our insistence for control can be dangerous.

I took one look at Sophie, and realized I was just going to have to give some trust that the whole situation would work out. I asked God to help us, and I let Sophie off the leash. She bolted down the trail, ears flapping in the wind, it looked like she would never stop. But she did. When she stopped, she turned around and looked up the trail at me. And she ran all the way back. The rest of the hike was awesome. Sophie enjoyed her freedom, and I enjoyed PEACE.

Sometimes, we just have to learn to let go…

(I just want to write that I do not condone letting dogs run off leash out of control especially when they can be a nuisance to people or other animals. I think you have to strive for a balance that respects everyone’s right to peace.)


"Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you" -Psalm 56:22(a)

“The most exciting happiness is the happiness generated by forces beyond your control.” –Ogden Nash


Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. AMEN


<Back to Archive