The fence is falling down in the backyard of what used to be my parents’ house. To be more accurate, it’s pretty much useless in the way back jungly part where the poison ivy has returned.
In trying to decide what to do about the fence, my husband and I discussed options. He’s been great about not telling me what to do since I told him that was a pet peeve of mine when we were dating. So, I asked him what he would do if it was all up to him. First he helped me clarify that my plan A is to eventually sell the house and not to put too much money into it outside of getting the bathroom redone. After that was clarified, he said he would do nothing and leave the dilapidated fence like it was.
This felt like a terrible option for me. As we talked, the reason came to the surface. When I was in elementary school, we had a dog named Hoppy. He was a Newfoundland/German Shepherd mix but looked something like a Gordon Setter. Since we lived in military housing, Hoppy didn’t have a fenced in yard. He had a chain attached to his dog house. Dad let him run loose at night when we were stationed in California and took him to the canyon on weekends to run. When we moved to Philadelphia and Dad went to Vietnam, Hoppy didn’t get much exercise. It’s not like I ignored him, but I didn’t walk him much because I was afraid he might get away from me. My biggest wish was that Hoppy could have a fenced in back yard so he wouldn’t have to be on a chain. He did have a yard for three months when we stayed with my sister in Michigan, but then we moved to New York and Hoppy went back on the chain. I’d sit inside his dog house with him for hours and make up stories in my head, including the fenced yard fantasy.
While Dad was still in Vietnam, my mom who suffered from depression, told me a story about a sick little girl who needed Hoppy more than I did. She said they had a big fenced yard for him to run in. I had to believe her.
Dad retired from the Marine Corps when I was 13. I was excited that we bought a house with a fenced in back yard for our new dog, Lobo, who lived most of his life in that big back yard plus walks around the neighborhood. I wish Hoppy could have had that kind of life. When I bought a house of my own, having a fenced in back yard was the number one priority. Is it any wonder that the house I live in today has a fence in the back and the front?
Now, I’ve inherited my parents’ house with the fallen fence. When I think about selling that house, I think about a girl (or a boy, or a family) who might have a dog who needs a fenced in yard. And when I think about heaven, I see a lush green meadow with all the dogs I’ve ever loved running to meet me with Hoppy in the lead.