For the last week I’ve been turning the horses into the front area for a few hours every afternoon. There are bits of grass to nibble and room to play, and it makes them happy.

I turned them out yesterday, and then went back to my computer. A while later I noticed Guin staring at me through the sun room window. I waved, and she took off, cantering down the driveway, Rowan at her heels. Oh, how cute. They’re playing. I walked to where I could see them better. Hmmm. Why isn’t Blue playing with them? I went out on the front porch.

You know, I had four horses when I turned them out. Why do I have only two now?

Gate closed. Fence up.

Surely they’re just hiding. No, that doesn’t make sense — Guin wouldn’t be upset if they were just in the barn or something.

About the time I decided I’d better start a search, my neighbors, Tim and Pam, come walking up the road with Blue and Princess in tow. Blue came back in the fence willingly; Princess wanted to explore their garden a while longer before coming home. Once everyone was in, we looked around and decided they must have gotten out through the arena, so I shut that gate. Problem solved!

Um, no.

In the time it took me to walk downstairs and retrieve my cell phone, Blue and Princess decided to head to their real escape route: through the supposedly impassible woods. The woods, I discovered, aren’t so impassible in the winter. So the horses are locked in the dry lot again until we can get the woods fenced. That’s really not so terrible, though, because fencing the woods means Aslan can spend more time in the front area of the property.

Speaking of Aslan, I just have to rave about what a good dog he has become. I was worried about him as he was maturing. When he was intact, he had a hair-trigger temper. He never aggressed toward me — he redirected that anger onto Pax — but I was still on pins and needles around him.

Although I know it’s sacrilege in the United States, I’m not a big fan of neutering. Controlled breeding, yes, but not the removal of hormone-containing body parts. Testosterone is a multipurpose hormone, and removing it has lifelong effects, so I don’t like neutering without good reason. With Aslan, though, we had good reason. With testosterone in his system, he was just a nasty-tempered dog.

It has been about six months since we got him neutered, and I’m blissfully happy with the changes. Only a couple of fights, and he’s a lot more biddable. He’s two and a half now, so part of that is maturity, but bottom line, he’s just a nicer dog now. In fact, he’s terrific. He’s lovely to snuggle with on a cold nights, and he’s fun to play with. He’s more tolerant of having his nails clipped or poop trimmed from his feathers. He doesn’t compete with Pax anymore, just patiently waits his turn.

He’s a doll.

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