One day on the camino, I got talking to a woman and she told me this story, this fable:
“Sometimes I do some personal assistant work for this older man back in Scotland. He lives downtown, and he’s got a terrier, and the terrier gets a walk every day, on the same route on the city blocks.
“And one day I took the dog out for her walk, but I had a lot of time so I took her away from downtown into a park on the outskirts of the city. We were walking, and it was a weekday, and it was cold, and so there weren’t many people around, or dogs.
“We were in a grove of trees, and it was just lovely, and I let the terrier off her leash since we were alone and she was running everywhere, smelling things and barking up trees. She’s an old dog but being out there, she was in her element and she seemed younger.
“And then, I just saw out of the corner of my eye, she took off! And she dashed into a thicket! And I ran after her and got a hold of her, but I had to sort of sneak up on her, and I saw what was making her run.
“There was a rabbit, just bounding away through the trees, and she was chasing it! I was going to put her leash back on, and take her away from the rabbit, but I saw how excited and happy this old dog was all of a sudden, and I thought, Well… you know what… I’ll let her have a go.
“I released the dog, and she bolted. I followed her to the crest of a little hill and watched as she gained on the rabbit in a clearing below, and know what? She caught it! Now, I’m not for killing animals or anything, but it was just… just this once… that terrier was bred to do that, and she’d never had the chance, her whole life, on that same route in the city. So I let her go do what she was born to do. And she brought the rabbit back and it was very disgusting and all, but you should have seen her. I’ve never seen a happier dog.
“When I took her back that day, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to tell her owner about the rabbit, but I did. I said to him, ‘You know, you should know that I let her chase and kill a rabbit today, in the park.’
“He was surprised.
“He said, ‘I didn’t know she had it in her! Kill a rabbit? She’s never done anything like that before.’
“And I said, ‘Yeah, she did have it in her. Something in her just knew what to do.’ And I thought, Of course you didn’t know she was capable, because you never let her go out where she belongs.
“And so I’ve been thinking a lot about my inner terrier. What parts of me have I stifled because they go against what society says, or because they frighten me, or because I’m not in the habit of letting them flourish? I’m trying to sift through and find those areas where I’d be in my element if I only let myself off-leash, so to speak.”