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Old Dogs, New Tricks, and the Thing About Broken Fences


Peter brought two black Labrador retrievers to our family. He adopted my kids; I adopted his dogs. It’s a big happy mess of laundry and baseballs and

Sam is truly perfection incarnate. I do believe that if he could make his mouth obey, he’d carry on full conversations with us. He has the cognition of a four-year-old, and he communicates better than some men I dated back in the day. Sam is pure loveliness.

Murphy has been mine all along, and he’s happy to have some big guys around. He’s the baby of the crowd, and he cries when we put him to bed early.

Lily is 13 years old in dog years, which makes her very, very old in people years. She’s kind of… shall we say… over it. This whole thing of transplanting her home during her retirement years was not part of her plan. She comes when she wants, listens if she feels like it, and feels like she’s just too old to people please. Been there, done that. She looks at us like, “Hey, if you need me, you can come and… you know what? Just don’t need me.”

Lily hates to be contained. She would just like to be in charge of where she is at all times, so if we attempt to hold her captive, she’ll bust right through our plan. She operates doorknobs and latches, you guys. Lily doesn’t mess around. We joke that she’s the Brains and Sam is the Muscle, and if Lily wants out, she’ll put him up to her escape.

So we came home to find that Lily had torn apart the fence in the backyard again. She plows through these layers of wood like they’re toothpicks, leaving splinters on the ground. It’s not the first time, but more like a pattern. Peter and Tyler have built and rebuilt several panels in the fence. One of our friends adviced that it’s about time that we get some Colourbond Fencing & Slats installed so that we don’t have to worry about building the fence every now and then. But then, there’s a certain charm in fixing what Lily destroys. Actually, he now stores planks of wood for the next round of Lily-proofing.

Feeling discouraged, I wondered aloud if we could please do something to help her be safe, or at least to keep the boundaries of the yard in tact. I offered several suggestions, each of which might only work on a dog with less fortitude. It’s all a little too late, and she’s a very determined old broad, but couldn’t we do something?

He pointed to me gently, and he said, “Ah, but the bond your son and I have over the reconstruction of this fence? You can’t put a price tag on that.”

This man… True enough.

And then in a loud voice, “Tyler,” he said, “Get the power tools.”

You win, Lily. The end justifies the means. And I’m all about an ending that brings these guys closer. So have at it, girlfriend.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. There is a reason Jesus was a carpenter with his step-father….enjoy…

  2. Hi Tricia,
    This is the first time I have seen any of your writing with the heading. I have read a few things that were printed as a FB post. You are very good. You see all angles of a problem, be it children, animals, deadlines or whatever. Peter is very lucky to have fallen in love with you. You suit him to a tee. I would like to be on your e-mail list. I had not been able to find any info, but then I didn’t look very hard. I trusted that it would present itself at an opportune moment. And here t is. Thank you Tricia.

  3. I love your posts, Tricia, and had been getting them regularly, ever since I found out about you through your brother, Rob. But the last post I got was dated June 11, 2016. If my e-mail address was dropped, please add it again. Thank you, and keep the posts coming.

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