End of summer (and other things).
Sometimes, you try very hard and do all the right things. But life moves along by unseen design. And often, the things you want very much not to happen, do.
In late July, our old Toy Fox Terrier, Shaunie passed away. He was 17 years old and we'd been expecting it.
But as much as you know the end of a life is coming, it doesn't make it any easier when it finally comes tottering and blinking to a close.
Drifting off in a cloud of love
Drifting off in a cloud of love
Every day since the time Shaun left this life -- drifting off in a cloud of love and with a peaceful smile of relief on his grizzled muzzle -- I've looked for him without meaning to.
Maybe it's just the slow decompression from the long period of caring for a blind, deaf and happily senile old dog.
But every day, at least once, a thought flashes through my mind. Maybe I think it's time for him to go out. And then, I remember...he's not there.
For days, Taylor would stand outside the room where his old friend used to sleep and stare and STARE at the door. It was almost like he was willing Shaun to turn up behind it.
When I would pass, he'd look up at me, asking. And I'd nudge the door open and show him.
"Remember, buddy? He's gone." And Taylor's poor little shoulders would slump so dejectedly and his gaze would drop to the floor.
Shaun, in his glory days
One of the first performance titled Toy Fox Terriers
And I'm suddenly aware that I'm describing this scenario, probably as a way of skirting around some issues that are more important. Most significantly, the sharp health declines of my mom and dad.
I don't want to share details. I probably don't have to. So many of you have shared that experience.
But the point is, when they come, these larger issues of life swamp over us like tidal waves. Unrelenting, all-encompassing and completely undeniable.
In these crucial moments, it's the structure of each day that often keeps you going.
It's the ladder you climb on -- sometimes up, sometimes down -- until you reach the other side.
Look to the horizon but keep
what's close to your heart
The importance of agility and the comfort of routines.
So that's where the habits and structures of agility training fall into my life right now.
It's the familiar. The comforting. It's a way of maintaining a sense of progress and motion when the larger things overwhelm.
And the "little things", like enjoying agility, can have that purpose. Beyond ribbons. Beyond titles. Beyond what we get wrapped up in and often think that it is.
Because there are certain times in life when it all comes down to just putting one foot in front of the other. Over and over again.
So while agility isn't the most important thing in my life right now, it's important to what makes my life fulfilling and truly worth living.
Tomorrow IS another day.
Or at least we can hope.
Before you can make lemonade, you first gotta get a grasp on those lemons.
I don't mean to sound like I know what I'm doing here. Plenty of people could point to evidence to the contrary. But along the way, I'm learning. Bit by little bit.
For what it's worth, I'll leave you with a few of nuggets of rainy day wisdom:
- Don't try to figure it all out -- Most likely, there isn't an answer. Or at least one any sane human could comprehend. Make peace with chaos. After all, even the world started out that way.
- Take time to enjoy the things that make life worthwhile -- When things get tough, it's easy to lose yourself in the things you have to do. Treat yourself as if you were your own best friend (you actually are) and schedule some time on your calendar to catch up.
- Appreciate friends and family -- The silver lining of trying times is that you find out what the people in your world are truly made of. Including, and maybe mostly, yourself. Yes, some people will disappoint. But others will amaze you. Forgive the first kind. For the second kind, open your heart, appreciate and hold close.
- Work hard -- Working hard has been the salvation of many a beleaguered situation. Just remember to keep it all in perspective.
- Chase some little goals -- You might not have the time or energy to take on something big at this moment. So pick something light. Maybe it's trying one of those fancy, new handling moves or teaching your dog a cute trick. Sure, it's not going to save the world. But it will probably bring a ray of joy that will restore your confidence and inspire your ability to DO.
- Help someone else -- Often the best way to ward off the shadows is to help a fellow human. Once again, it doesn't have to be something big. Maybe it's giving a sincere thank you, sharing a favorite training tip or buying a random person a cup of coffee. The warm feeling that results will be yours to keep all day.
This article is part of the Dog Agility Blog Action Day on the topic of Outside the Ring. Help yourself to lots of other great ideas by checking out the other articles on Dog Agility Blog Action Day.