“If you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you never done before.”


I planned on writing a New Year’s blog post (I know, I know: it’s March 4), but I couldn’t bring myself to do it for some reason. Maybe because I didn’t feel like I could put a feeling to 2015 yet (not sure I can do that even still) and I couldn’t find the word, or mantra I wanted for the year either. I wanted to choose a word by January– one that would define the next twelve months in some way. Last year’s was simple: “believe”. If you trained with me you got a reminder to keep with you at all times. To believe in yourself, your training, but above all the potential within your dog. I think I followed that fairly well (always room for improvement). But I couldn’t find a word by January 1 that resonated enough. Hence the lack of new year posting and musing. It was a more thoughtful first two months.

head down snow
I think I’ve found my word though after I happened on it unexpectedly- digging through a box of charms at a local jewelry store. There was my old comfort blanket “believe” stamped into metal and, instinctively, I grabbed it. But below it was a different one: “courage”. I held it for a while and, like the shopper I am, I bought both. Courage wasn’t the word I thought I’d define this year by- but it absolutely should be. Because– really– to get where we want to go requires it.

It takes courage to try at all. It especially takes courage to accept failures and try again. It takes courage to put yourself on any sort of stage and compete. It takes courage to travel. In many respects it takes courage to meet new people, experience new things, to see new places. It takes courage to share your words publicly (still getting used to this one). Reaching a goal of any kind takes doing things you’ve never done before. If it hasn’t happened yet, the status quo must be shaken up– we must try another way. It’s easy to slip into the routine of what’s comfortable and what’s familiar, but it doesn’t always serve us in the best possible way. It’s easy to be afraid of what we don’t know– it’s much harder to face these uncertain things with blind bravery. It’s easier to accept failure as an indication that it wasn’t “meant for us” rather than getting up and trying again. But easier isn’t always the best option.

Whatever your goal may be you can only travel there with courage. If things are too comfortable or they’ve stayed the same, you’re not growing– you’re not improving. I’m embracing that. I want to push outside my comfort zone, to take chances– to meet people I haven’t before, to go to places I haven’t seen before, to try things I haven’t done before. This year has already been full of these things– with many more to come. It has been wonderful.

So that’s how I plan to lead the rest of this year: with the word courage stamped into metal worn around my neck, and carried in my heart. With belief in my dog and our training, yes, but with more than that. With the knowledge that we’re so much closer than we’ve ever been before. With the understanding that courage is so much more pivotal than I had ever thought before.

We will be brave.


barto all dogs