I am looking for friends. What does that mean — tame?”
“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.”
“To establish ties?”
“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….
People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
That part of the Petit Prince has resonated in me since I read it, ages and moons ago. It’s a principle on which I have based a great part of my life. I have a very high sense of responsibility. Unshakable. Sometimes exaggerated, I must admit.
Take my dog for example. I chose him. The minute I held this furry 5 weeks old ball I knew. I had to give him my best. From the day he walked into our home he was fed, loved, entertained, mentally stimulated and walked. A lot. Three times a day, every single day. I can’t bear the idea that he could be unhappy for lack of care. He has become my responsibility, he depends on me. He’s tamed.
I have to make sure he has the best dog life. That doesn’t mean buying the most expensive stuff, don’t get me wrong here, but providing him the opportunity to be a dog. Not dressed up or groomed to the extreme either. Not trained to obey like a robot. Not a prized show dog. A dog. One that is allowed to sniff and pee on every lamp post, one that gets to meet other canines, one that can jump in the water or roll in the mud or grass if he pleases. I make sure it happens.
I feel so sad looking at my neighbors houses and knowing that there are seven dogs on my street. None of them I have ever seen on a walk. Or playing with their humans. One has never had more than it’s 4 feet leash and a small patch of grass to pee on to explore. And explore is too strong a word. As soon as his business is done, it’s back inside. A Labrador! It drives me crazy! How fun it must be to have a Labrador to play with!
But then maybe it’s me. I might just be asking too much, who knows? I must be wired differently.
That sense of responsibility applies for my sons as well. I will always be in a state of vigilance for as long as I feel they might need me. I’m always the last one to go to sleep. I’m a very light sleeper too, vigilance has taken a hold on me since my first son was born.
And I’m okay with that. As much as I enjoy a glass of wine, I have never been drunk or even tipsy since becoming pregnant. It’s been a while (I know, don’t remind me). But I cannot allow myself to see my judgement impaired by alcohol or anything else as I’ve got my boys to protect. Should anything happen to them and I could not react in time, I’d never forgive myself.
You can guess I go to bed very tired. I think it’s the tiredness of all mothers. Of caregivers. That permanent state of vigilance is draining, I can tell you! But, we do have to get up bright and early on the next day and start again, don’t we?
All those thoughts came to me while walking my dog, of course. Our walks have become almost like a meditation, it’s good for both of us. It was only meant to be a simple dog post, an observation on my neighbors dogs, but then I started rambling on… I also wish my prose was more eloquent, but it’s 8pm and I need to recharge 🙂
This post is from our Sisterhood Stories circle, click in the button to visit Elena’s blog, and leave some love along the way xox
I find this part of Le Petite Prince very meaningful, too. And of course it doesn’t only apply to our furry friends, but to friends in general: when you open your heart to someone, if that person is a friend she becomes responsible, in a way, for your heart… as a true friend would never break it. And of course it’s the same the other way around.
But back to furry friends, I think your dog couldn’t be happier… you can see it in his face! I’m very sorry to hear your neighbors aren’t as responsible as you: when you choose to adopt a pet, and dogs in particular (as they need to spend more time with their humans than cats, for instance), you have to care for them. I know people like you and I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing they haven’t done their best and haven’t cared enough… but unfortunately, some people simply don’t understand it. It’s a pity, also because they could themselves make use of the time spent to walk their dog: while doing something good for him, they would be doing something good for their body as well as for their mind. I personally enjoy playing with my cats in the garden, having them follow me in my macro trips in the fields, etc… so it’s not even a “task” for me, it’s something I love doing… it should be this way for everyone who has a pet.
As for your protective personality, and the way you are unable to forget about certain things, or just let yourself go… I understand that, too. I mean, in a way, it’s difficult to always be vigilant, to never be able to fully relax because you are responsible for other people… but it’s the only way we can do things. I wouldn’t be able to do differently, and I’m sure it’s the same for you. It’s a choice, it’s what makes you a fantastic mother. Of course you don’t know what it feels like not to have any worries, but I believe you also sleep well at night 😉
I love my dogs as my family and I totally understand what you mean about your responsibility to him. If only all dog owners/companions were like you! Animals are innocents and vulnerable and need us as their owners to watch out for them and make sure they are looked after and have a happy life. They bring so much joy and its wonderful when that is a two way relationship of enjoyment and companionship. He really is a beautiful dog and you are both lucky to have each other <3
Oh this has been so very hard to read. There are tears. We lost our beloved Max this week. He had 6 beautiful years with us after we rescued him age 5. We all feel sadness and miss his walks, his tummy rubs, his greetings and taking all the sofa up.
A beautiful post.
The Little Prince is a book that means a lot to my family. My father read it to me as a very little girl, and told me that when I grew up I would find a lot of answers to big questions in it. We read a passage from it at his funeral. To this day his own copy of the book, one of the very first English translations, is still kept near to hand in my mother’s sitting room. My brother and I made sure all our children had their own copies. So it’s fascinating for me to see someone else using that it as a source for a life lesson. A wonderful blog post Isabelle and I’ll think of it whilst I go and stroke my own nutty dogs.