This past week, my husband and I had quite the scare. Our beloved, happy go lucky dog, Baci, was suddenly missing. Out of the blue, we both turned to each other on Saturday morning and said “Where’s Baci?” Well, she must be outside we thought. My husband checked the “usual spots” (dog house, garage, under the deck, tree #1, tree #2, tree #3….you get the picture) but to no avail. Then both of us were outside looking down the road and into “presumably” the uncharted territories of the neighbors yards and the road. By happenstance, a neighbor was down the road about 100 yards away walking her dog and I heard a familiar bark. Aha!
There she was two doors down barking her head off at the dog being walked defending her new found territory. What in the world? How did that happen? My husband carried her home. We have a wireless containment system that involves a dog collar and base until. When Baci gets out about 100 feet from the base unit, she receives a warning beep and then a slight shock. We’ve had the system almost as long as Baci (about 6 years) and she definitely knows her territory. The base unit was broken. For how long? Who knows? At some point, she started testing her outer limits, her limiting beliefs.
This is what she taught me.
1. Routine. Baci always has the same routine. The “usual spots” in the yard that she investigates every time she is outside. Heck, she has the same routines inside the house. The same windows she sidles up to peer out. The same tap, tap, tap, tap across the wood floor. We’ve all got the same routines. Brush your upper right teeth before the left. Wash your hair before your face. Check your phone and then pour coffee. At some point, Baci changed her routine, to head into the outer limits. If you want to change things up, you are going to need to change up your routine.
2. Environment. The day that we found Baci -AWOL, there was a blanket of snow on the ground. This is a drastic change in environment when you live in Eastern North Carolina. This was not the usual fare. So with a blanket of white snow, her perspective and our perspectives, where different. The snow was covering the usual “barriers”. Perhaps the root (her imagined border) she would never cross or a fallen branch. A change in environment can change the way you see the world. Change your office, re-org your books, change the wallpaper on your PC. The barriers will disappear.
3. Test. At some point, she tested the limit. Probably by accident at first, but she went a little farther than she had before. And then a little farther. And then a little more. She inched her way to new territory and was no worse for wear. Test your limits. Write an intro to a book. Sign up for that art course you’ve always wanted to take. Open a new PowerPoint template and make a few slides. Test your outer limits. And then go a little farther. And then a little more.
4. Explore. When my husband and I look back, we are wondering how long the invisible fence system was down. When we reflect back, I can remember seeing Baci in places that had previously been off limits. Or I would look everywhere for her, give up and go inside, and suddenly she would be at the back door trying to get in. It.Could.Have.Been.Months. Wow. She was out there exploring. Finding new cats, tennis balls and squirrels (probably the same squirrels, just a new tree). She always came home. She knew where home base was. Go explore. What’s on your bucket list? Check a few off. Key West, Smokey Mountains and Alaska are on mine. Go explore some new trees.
I’m not suggesting we all let our pets run wild. But I do feel conflicted about restoring Baci to her home territory. How exciting for her to test her limiting beliefs and break beyond her usual outer limits. Don’t wait for the next snow or for retirement or for the lottery…test your limiting beliefs. See how exciting and rejuvenating it can be.