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Running Free

| Lynn Ungar

by Taz

My Person and I have very different ideas about freedom. I am a big believer in freedom. The best feeling in the whole world is to run free without a leash, to choose where you will go and what you will explore, to run full tilt or saunter and sniff as you please. And so sometimes I help myself to this lovely state of freedom by dashing out the front door for a tour of the neighborhood.

My Person is very adamant that this is not OK, and that I am not entitled to this freedom. In fact, she gets just a bit freaky about it, as if taking myself out for a jaunt were some horrible crime. I try not to listen too much to what she says when she’s upset about my going for an unaccompanied run, since sometimes there are bad words. However, she seems to be worried that I will be hit by a car, or get lost, or get picked up and kept by someone else who would like a handsome dog such as myself, or eat rat poison, or get in a fight with someone else’s dog or who knows what horrible fate.

She says that my safety is more important than my freedom. Also the freedom of people who would not like to have their small children or small dogs scared by my coming to say hi. Not that I’m really scary, but I guess my wolfish good looks could be off-putting to some people.

This is the problem with freedom. Sometimes your freedom gets in the way of other people’s freedom. Sometimes your freedom makes you a danger to yourself. Everybody likes freedom, but sometimes freedom is in conflict with other important values, like not terrifying children or getting hit by a car.

For instance, in this country there is a big conversation going on about whether and how the government should limit guns. Some people say that the Constitution guarantees them the freedom to have guns, and the government should just butt out. Some people say that the freedom to not get shot is a more important freedom than the freedom to be able to shoot if you want to. And most people think something in the middle, that people should be allowed to have guns for some legal purposes, like hunting and target practice, but that some people—like folks who have committed violent crimes—should not be allowed to have guns at all, and that some kinds of weapons—like those made for wars—don’t really belong on the street.

There isn’t a single right answer. We agree that folks shouldn’t have guns if they are dangerous people, but mostly we don’t know who is dangerous until they actually do something dangerous and it’s too late. We know that some weapons are just too hazardous for people to have the freedom to buy them, but for some folks that means nuclear weapons and for some it means pretty much anything upwards of a BB gun.

Freedom is complicated. I’m pretty sure that everyone is entitled to think whatever they like. But when our freedoms start to move beyond the front door and into where our lives connect with other people, then the only solution I know is for people to keep talking, to work it out, to understand that we’re all going to have to compromise our freedoms a certain amount, but not too much.

I believe I will start by suggesting to My Person that she take me to run free on the back-woods trail where there are no cars and not many people and I can have a small, delicious taste of freedom.

TazTaz is a seven-year-old Belgian Tervuren, the companion of Lynn Ungar, the CLF’s minister for lifespan learning. While he has competed in a variety of dog sports, his favorite jobs are as running companion to Lynn’s wife Kelsey and manager of the household cats.



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Absolutely, Lynn. Thanks :)

What a beautiful story to emphasize such an important concept. I agree that there must continue to be discussion and education on this topic and that we all will have to compromise some in order to solve this issue. The key is that something must be done!