At the end of January I left for the Netherlands for a singular purpose: to bring home a puppy. It was an exercise in trust and, in many ways, courage. The trip didn’t take the shape I thought it would and it’s taken a long time to come to terms with that. It’s a difficult thing to admit something won’t work for a number of reasons or even just one. The puppy I had waited for, had named, had dreamed over, whose photos were saved in my phone was there before me suddenly in a foreign country, in a small hotel room. Putting words to a gut feeling is hard—I struggled then and I struggle now. But there was a knowledge buried in the lost words that this was not the right thing—for either of us. I agonized over that truth in the time that I had. I was crazy, I thought. Absolutely insane. Who comes all this way just to say no?
And yet, I did.
Tears, a bleary-eyed train ride, a sleepless night, and an empty carrier the next day on the plane.
There was a severe emptiness in the after. A feeling of failure but also, strangely, of great relief. As hard as it had been, as crazy as I felt doing it, I knew it was what needed to be done. I wanted nothing more than for that puppy to be with the person he was meant to be with, even if it meant I went without.
Slipping into February there were no plans. The idea of World Team was disappearing faster each day, and yet time moved slowly—short days and cold nights. I fought to find motivation despite the sinking feeling that there wasn’t much to be motivated for. I seriously considered my future in the sport—if it was worth it. Worth the pain, the heartache, the stress, the work. Maybe closing myself off from it was a good thing. Maybe it was time to move on. Maybe, maybe.
And then, a surprise.
There was a puppy—from a place that kept circling back to meet me again and again. I was reserved in the idea, but a good friend gave me the push (and the car ride) down to meet her. Yes, her. The wrong color, the wrong sex—not Bolt by any stretch. Spunky, tiny, and full of life and love. I was told to think about it, but after the first meeting I could feel the stirring of something right. Weeks passed, another quiet visit with another friend who, while getting back in the car, gave me a sly smile and nodded. Sometimes the unexpected is exactly what you need. So welcome, Heart Lake Life is Good, aka, “Vibe.”
Like this, I’ve been thrown back into it all: the overwhelming idea of raising another dog for the sport that has shaped my life—has made me so much better than I ever thought possible, that has taught me to never give up. We have seen the world through this sport. We have achieved dreams never thought possible. I owe him, and her, so much back.
In the meantime, Bolt has returned to full agility. Contacts, weaves, turns, and all. Next week brings our first competition in the US since last July; an idea that thrills and terrifies me at once. The first glimpse of our dance feels right, though. It kicks up something deep, it brings back a purpose and meaning. Maybe this is worth it after all. I’ve listened to a song on repeat for some time now and the words in it resonate.
You ain’t gone far enough to say, “At least I tried”
You ain’t worked hard enough to say, “Well I’ve done mine”
You ain’t run far enough to say, “My legs have failed”
You ain’t gone far enough, you ain’t worked hard enough, you ain’t run far enough to say
“It ain’t gonna get any better”
It’s true– I haven’t. Keep going. Keep working. Keep running.
It’s getting better.