back in may, i wrote about our new boxer mix pup, oakland, and how he was fitting right in to the family. he did and then he did not. for the last two months, living with oakland has been a constant struggle. he began to roam, his persecution of the cats became worse, he chased the horses, he started bringing me dead woodchucks, and finally (finally) he attacked one of the goats and drew (a tiny bit of) blood. all his jolly good humour, all his fun-loving ways, all his crazy bat ears and cute face can’t make up for the fact that oakland is a predator, a ticking time bomb in a land of prey animals. don’t get me (or oakland) wrong. he is the gentlest, sweetest, most lovable dog i’ve ever had… with people. and he loves a good dog. it’s just that he is both perfectly formed for a life on the edge of the wilderness (he’s the savage garden’s top dog) and completely unsuitable for country life (just ask the dead woodchucks). it has taken me many weeks to get to the point where i can overcome my own selfish adoration of this little black dog and consider his well-being, which begins and ends on the end of a citified leash. oakland may never skip over the meadows like a slick, dark stone on water. he may never again get a good roll in something long dead and suitably rank. he may never wade laughing through a leaf-choked vernal pool full of frogs and snowmelt and scummy rot. he may never (and i hope this is true) dig and dig and dig until he’s got the woodchuck out of the hole and bouncing like ball on the end of this toothy snout. and, as a result, oakland will live a longer, more stable life, protected from his own wolf nature in a world that is peopled with people.