When at home in California I go out to walk my dogs, I am often dreaming of Nevada and I wonder if my dogs are too as their leashes drape and dangle, then pull taut again. Sometimes I think that if many Californians had their way, puppies would be whelped in exoskeletal crates to ensure their containment from their first breath. Admittedly, my ruminations are shaped by the needs of our hounds, born and bred to run. But running requires space and in California, at least the region where we live, laws confine canine movements to those viable at the end of a short leash.
I could understand strict regulations if we lived in an urban area but we live in a house on several private acres, in a small town surrounded by forests, near three state parks totalling 26,000 acres; yet the only place where we can legally run our dogs is a fenced one-acre park a half-hour drive from home.
By contrast consider the ordinance governing the restrictions of dogs on Nevada’s open range:
1. It is unlawful for any person to permit a dog to chase, worry, injure or kill cattle, sheep or other domestic animals on the open range or on private property.
With few restrictions and a reasonable requirement for personal responsibility, there is something sacred about those spaces where dogs can run or wander–something that makes it particularly impossible not to be acutely aware of God’s presence.
When, after a journey, my family and I arrive in Nevada and fling open our car doors, our dogs leap out, eager to be free; as do we.