Last week I watched the CNN documentary Blackfish that I had recorded on a whim after seeing an advertisement for the film. If you haven’t yet watched it I recommend you do so. It is a heart wrenching film detailing two deaths of humans, multiple deaths of Orca and immeasurable emotional abuse and trauma of captive Orca. The film depicts many natural facets of Orca life that are unavailable to the captive Orca. These depictions got me thinking about our pet dogs and what they are missing while captive in a Turtle Creek penthouse.

My dog has lived an urban life for the past five years. We just recently located to a neighborhood with a lot of old trees that make great homes for birds and squirrels as well as hunting grounds for outdoor cats. While having a backyard again for the first time in many years I saw Nitro use his eyes, ears and nose in ways I haven’t seen him use in a very long time. I truly witnessed a light in his eyes that was absent just a week prior to the move. I felt a great sense of satisfaction in relocating him to this new type of living and a mourning for all the years lost when he had no use for his natural talents involving his sight, smell and hearing. He suddenly seemed more natural and more at peace.

When you are walking your dogs this week I encourage you to get off the pavement and on to the ground. Let them have the grass under their paws and all the scents left behind by the last dog or the last squirrel or the last bird. Let them feel the sun on their nose and hear the animals in the trees. As with many of my students, the more training one has the more privileges one can handle. Nitro has the advantage of being able to explore at will when off leash because he can come when called. Training him to an off leash level is one of the best things I’ve ever done for him as it allows great freedom in exploration and roaming. I think the greatest joy of any creature is to be its natural self in the most uninhibited way possible.