Fate, My Dog and Jon’s Dog

Fate in the woods
Fate in the woods

“It seems that you didn’t get a dog for yourself after all. Fate is obviously Jon’s dog. Perhaps a Border Collie is not a breed that fits with you. I know that you were considering a Golden Retriever; can you still see one as your personal dog? You deserve a dog that’s yours and yours alone.”

Someone left the above comment on my blog post that had a video of me trying to herd sheep with Red and Fate.  I responded to the comment, but then kept thinking about it.  I mentioned it to Jon and  we talked about it, then he responded to the comment, in his own way, on my blog.  Then he wrote about it on his blog. (You can read Jon’s thoughts on it here).

But I wanted to write about it too, because I found the comment both patronizing and thought-provoking.

First,  I was surprised by the tone of the comment.  It suggested that this person knows me, and what kind of dog I should have, better than I do.  It also suggests that I was somehow wronged in the process of me and Jon getting a dog.  And that Jon is somehow at fault.

Now to me,  these ideas are so off base I can easily dismiss them. (Although I have to admit,  it made me feel a little protective of Jon, even though, god knows, he can take care of himself)  But what really bothers me about this idea is that it makes me appear as someone who can’t speak up for herself.     That I’m someone who needs a stranger, or anyone for that matter,  to tell me what I want and deserve.

I hate to think that I’m somehow putting that out there on my blog. That I don’t know what I want and can’t stand up for myself.    But I honestly don’t think I am.  I do know that when I write something and put it out into the world, it can be interpreted in  many different ways depending on who reads it.

And I could immediately sense the misplaced anger in this comment.  I feel the anger really has little to do with me, Jon and Fate.  But the interesting part of it is that the comment actually got me to think about my relationship with Fate in a way I hadn’t consciously done.  So that makes me wish that instead of leaving an angry and accusatory comment this person would have posed the comment in a different way.  Not telling me what I need, but perhaps telling me her thoughts and asking me mine.

So here’s what I was thinking about Fate and me and Jon.  I love Fate.  She’s a great dog.  She comes with me to my studio in the mornings and takes walks with me in the woods. She never runs off and keeps an eye on me, waiting patiently if I stop for a while.  I love to throw the ball for her  and she loves to chase it.  She lays next to me in the living room when I blog and rides in my car with me when I go to town.

She’s my dog.  But she’s also Jon’s dog.

Jon takes her to the sheep and teaches her what she was bred to do.  He lets her sit on his lap and lick his face and plays with her the way another dog might.  Something I don’t have any desire to do with any dog.  In the afternoons, when I’ve had enough puppy for the day, Jon takes Fate into his office and I am grateful.  He takes Fate to the Battenkill Books  and Moses Farmstand and socializes her in ways I would be uncomfortable doing.

The truth is Fate is our dog.  And I don’t need a dog that’s just mine.  When I got Frieda I did.  But I was a different person then with different needs.   Fate is actually perfect for me and Jon together.   We chose her together, train her together, and live with her together.  And now that we have a dog like Fate, I can see  how well it works, her being our dog.

23 thoughts on “Fate, My Dog and Jon’s Dog

  1. I love your post. I’ve always thought that a dog is part of the family and does not belong to one person exclusively. A family shares responsibilities as well as the love and devotion of our pets. Sometimes an animal may gravitate toward one family member and at another time may pay more attention to someone else.

  2. I have been misunderstood and judged. Maria, you and Jon have given such a defensive and critical answer to what was meant as a straightforward observation and question. I’m so sorry that you took my comments as ‘obnoxious, rude, angry’ and so on. They were not intended like that!

    You as bloggers don’t like judgement because we as readers can’t see the whole of your lives but only what you choose to share. Well, we as readers perhaps shouldn’t be judged so quickly for a few awkwardly written sentences and misspoken comments when you don’t know us at all.

    I wholeheartedly (but obviously mistakenly) wished that you could get a soulmate dog like Frieda or like Red’s relationship with Jon. All I could see from Jon’s daily posts was that Fate seemed to be bonding more with him because 1) she’s a Border Collie and Jon ‘gets’ Border Collies; 2) Jon gives Fate her work, her sheep herding. I read about Golden Retrievers earlier and thought (mistakenly again) that it was your wish. Again, this is all that was shared with your readers so how are we to know the whole story? Jon indicated that other readers were wondering about Fate too.

    I totally understand that dogs are family members and have a relationship with every one in their pack. My Springers are loving and friendly to everyone.

    I most certainly did not indicate that you were weak and Jon stole your dog! I don’t know where that idea came from but definitely not from me or my comments/question.

    Please accept my apology for overstepping my bounds. When bloggers share their lives so openly, it’s hard not to think that you know each other and that you have the right to comment as a friend.

    I am so happy that you and Fate have a wonderful relationship and that she is a family dog too. That’s all that matters.

  3. i have read Jon’s blog for some time and have been something in awe of his expressed feelings for your relationship. This, however, hits me where I live, as a dog breeder. I cannot think of a better description of a perfectly balanced home for a dog. Different people have different expectations of and offer different types of affection and attention to a dog that becomes part of a home. You and Jon have figured this out and meet both your own individual needs AND the different needs of the dog. Fate is indeed one lucky dog.

  4. Writing and publishing a blog, Maria, is something you and Jon both do well. The number of followers would indicate the interest but it must be disconcerting to come upon the odd comment or two that jars you into a different space and thought process. To be able to step back and hear what lies behind some comments and not take them into yourselves is a skill in itself and one I think that requires some practice. In a different sense I am exposed to a number of people who come to my Bed&Breakfast as our guests. Ninety-eight percent of our guests are so nice, I am sorry to see them leave. But there is that two percent with whom I could close my door tomorrow and shut the B&B down. But those are the guests, rude at times, entitled at times, treating me like a servant in my own home, that do challenge me, do make me stretch myself a little bit more, make me think. They don’t leave me with any positive feelings at all, when they leave I am thankful to see their cars and their energy drive up the laneway. They however are the ones who give me insight into myself and what I will or won’t accept from my guests in the future. Which takes me back to this: I’m glad you posted the message above. I’m glad you posted a response to it. Isn’t it interesting how your readers take on your life and think they can know your thoughts. Shows how personally they become involved, which is what you want, to have engaged readers. And what the heck, does it matter whose dog Fate is, there is such a thing as sharing a dog…
    SandyP in Canada where I’m just watching a lunar eclipse in this big sky of ours here in the country.

  5. It is hard to express fully how much admiration I have for both you and Jon as, in your different ways, you share your life through your blogs. I am too thin-skinned to ever do a blog–opening myself up to all sorts of strangers’ input. Maybe I would not have as much generosity either?

    It has taken me nearly all of my approaching 80 years to learn that being a critic of others is one of the most destructive habits one can develop.

    I hope that you will never feel chased away from this form of public life. You have too much to say to be lost to us. Meanwhile I send you both a spiritual hug and mug of what ever is your preference–coffee. tea. chocolate, or a hot herbal drink!

  6. Maria – I just love how you and Jon live, write, work, and care for each other and your animals. Your response to this woman, and Jon’s response, were lovely to read. And you’re both so right – that just because you blog, people think they know what’s good for you, and are, apparently, not afraid to let you know. Thank you for sharing your lives with us!

  7. People can be quite thoughtless in their comments at times! Very long time ago I was taught that “if you don’t want your comments (what you are writing) posted on the front page of the NY Times, then don’t write (share) it! Bravo for your honest and thoughtful response!

  8. Hi Maria,

    It still surprises and puzzles me that people who read your blog and Jon’s (and read his books)interpret your words so differently. I find myself thinking ” I trust you both, your insights, wisdom, compassion and open hearts.” When either of you writes about a dilemma or an incident, I know you will solve it, resolve it and move on in the way that is best for you.
    I have learned so much from both of you. I enjoy each day catching up with you and sharing your creativity, your joy and your love for each other.

  9. Maria,
    What a gracious, thoughtful response. You are a wise woman not needing anyone else to speak for you. I really appreciate how you both talk about things and both of you speak your own thoughts. It turns out you have a dog that is a gift for you both in her own way. Fate is very lucky to have you as an owner.

  10. Maria I think it’s great that Fate is both yours and Jons dog. She has the best of both worlds. You both fulfill her in different ways and she is giving you both much enjoyment. It’s a shame everyone wants to butt in on how you guys are living your lives.

  11. So articulate and beautifully said, Maria. After watching the video of you and the dogs herding the sheep, I was filled with much positive strong energy from the 3 of you. It was a great example of the connection and strong relationship you have with the dogs and they have with you. It was like musicians who know the music so well, they can step in and play the notes in harmony when the occasion arises. You inspire others.

  12. Wow, what a neat discussion and response. Wendy, thanks for those comments, they mean a lot. Hannah, thanks also for having the courage and openness to respond to the comments about your post. I did criticize you for them and would do so again. They crossed a line for me. To me, that is about being honest,as you are being. I have that right as you do. My wish for you is that you consider humility, as I am trying to do, something that obviously is difficult on social media, which promotes the idea we know people well enough to tell them what to do.
    I am sure you meant well, but the lesson here, I think, is that no one who is not in our lives and hearts and minds should presume to know us so well from reading a blog that they know better than we do what we should do and why we are doing it. We share our lives, we don’t give them away. I would never dream of telling you how you feel about your dog or what kind of dog you ought to get or didn’t get or are entitled to get. To me, that is intrusive. I thank you for coming here and standing up for your self. I do understand that you did not mean any harm. None, I think was done. It is our belief that when these boundary questions come up about social media, we ought to talk about them openly and honestly. So thanks for that. Maria is nicer than I am, I am grateful for that. I am pleased to see her with the animals she loves.

  13. Dear Maria, THANK YOU FOR THIS HEART EDUCATION!! you are exposing yourself everyday, opening your heart everyday, AND I AM SO BLESSED THAT YOU DARE TO DO THIS!! I can assure that I never would. But I have learned so much from you. So much of what you write causes the tears to run down my face, this is no exception! Annie

  14. I only know this..outside of my inner circle of close friends..you two people are the most loving, compassionate, caring , giving and humble people I know. I feel privileged that you allow me into your world on both a spiritual and emotional level. Thank you for that. I only know that dogs love unconditionally. They are a reflection of their pack leader on your farm it seems. My sincerest thanks, for letting me onto the farm.

  15. This will be the last comment I ever post here. Although Hannah’s original comment was inartfully phrased, I found the absolute ferocity of (particularly Jon’s) response, and the denigrating language, so out of proportion to the comment that I am dissuaded from ever sharing my thoughts here again.

  16. This exchange has brought forth honesty and courage on both the poster’s part and on Jon & Maria’s part in sharing what they choose to do of their lives here. This is their joint blog; truthfully, I don’t know how Jon manages to deal with the amount of comments that do come his way as a result of his writing, some of which does provoke comments and I believe Jon is fully aware of this, accepts it as part of his writing for I don’t have a sense that Jon expects people to agree with him just because he writes what he does. In fact, I get the sense that Jon thrives on others opinions even when the don’t agree with his. Perhaps the sentence that may be causing an issue here: ” My wish for you is that you consider humility, as I am trying to do, something that obviously is difficult on social media, which promotes the idea we know people well enough to tell them what to do.” explains Jon’s position well, is not overly aggressive or angry, but that he also considers humility on his part as well is difficult in social media. He equalizes as much as he can in that remark. Social media has both good and bad. Relationships break up in the flick of a finger because social media allows for the separation of people behind a computer screen. Would what is said on the internet be said face to face with a person, I wonder. I think all three parties have handled this well, Hannah, Jon and Maria, in a more gracious way than the last poster. There is much good to be had here on bedlamfarm.com.
    SandyP in Canada

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