Have I gone crazy!?

I live downtown in an itty-bitty apartment with not just one, but THREE children all under the age of 5 and my hubby. We have a cat. I work as a receptionist at a vet clinic seeing lots of puppies and kittens every day. You'd think I have my fix, right? WRONG! We end up opening our heart and our home to 2 rescues... and that's it! I must be dog-gone mad!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Climbing to the top!

I had one of those experiences w/ Pepper that I know are embedded within my heart... which will make it so much more difficult to let her go when it's time for her to pass away - I know this, and though I don't have to think about this right now, I'm facing the reality that I'm investing my life into this dog and we are building experiences together.

My sister and her boyfriend came to visit for a week. Pepper was a little unsettled at home, though she warmed up to Valen and Ralfie pretty quickly. She was yappy, yappy, yappy! Obnoxious.

But when we decided to go to Flat Top on Tuesday morning, I brought her along. She had not been on a hike in a while, and she's a completely different dog outdoors. At home, she's afraid of strangers, and startled by everything. Outdoors, she greets everyone like long-lost friends, and tackles everything! I don't know how to explain it... I can't prove it. But I took her anyways.

The first part of the hike is basically a long walk uphill. Then there are steps. Pepper handled these in stride. Smelling every flower, going way ahead and then coming back to check on me. Smiling and sniffing every dog she sees.

Then the incline starts building up, as well as the rocks, and the hike gradually becomes more of a climb. She's jumping from rock to rock, working her way up. Still happy as she can be! A little bit more concerned for me. I'm having doubts. I'm terrified of heights, and I'm clumsy. I'm worried that even if I make it all the way up, I still have to face the descent, and I don't know that I can do it. I'm sitting on rocks, catching my breath... pain in my chest and on my knees. I'm so tired of being such a wimp!

And there she is, a few feet above me, wagging her tail with her head cocked to the side as if to say, "Mom, you're coming?"

We get higher still and now it's just a flat out vertical climb. Paul and I finally realize that we've left Pepper a little behind, she's running around in circles but can't really climb up to join us. At one point she tries to make a jump, and slips - a fall that could've taken her down 1,000 ft. Paul catches her by her coat and places her on a ledge. Paul climbs a head of me, I get to a comfy spot and then I pick Pepper up and lift her to Paul with one hand, who in turn lifts her up above his head where she can secure her footing and finish the climb.

Paul and I make it to the top. Pepper's never been more happy to see me! I feel victory. A little bit more confidence. I am stronger and more able then I give myself credit! All four of us (Valen, Ralfie, Paul and me) praise Pepper like crazy. Strangers at the top praise Pepper like crazy (not a lot of dogs make the climb all the way to the top. A few do, but not every dog).

She's checking out the view from every angle of that mountain top.

Then we start working down. She's jumping from rock to rock. Then she gets stuck - there's a point where she loses her balance and slips, turns around, jumps back up. Now she's going around in circles, only every time she does a circle, she ends up back at the top and we are leaving her further and further behind. So we manage to coax her to our level, I grab her and balance her on my lap. She seems to know exactly what we're doing and stays on my lap as I spider crawl/slide on my rear down the crevice of the rock. Up until the can find her footing again and off she goes. One step ahead of me. Checking up on me every step of the way.

We make it home. She gets in the car. She sleeps on my lap the whole way home. She's such a GOOD dog outdoors. She acts so silly at home - specially when you know she can do better! But we're all happy with her. She did a great job!

I wouldn't have made it to the top of that mountain without her. I'm not saying she was my sole motivation. Seeing my sister at the top challenged me because I didn't want to spend time without her, knowing she'd leave home soon and we may not see each other again for years. My husband encouraged me and helped me climb the whole way - didn't give up on me, coached me every step of the way. But had Pepper felt afraid and refused to climb, I would've had an excuse to give in to my fear and stay down with her. And Pepper is usually afraid! But it was as if she was feeding off my need for motivation and motivated herself to go up there as well. She kept me from quitting because I had nothing and no one to quit to.

Up there it was so beautiful I felt even that God was speaking to me. Call me crazy, but I believe He does. There was a stillness and a peace that refreshed my soul. And God speaks to me through my interactions with Pepper - lessons of faith, trust, perseverance, and courage. She relied on her master the whole time. She was willing to go anywhere the master pointed her to go. I could learn a lot from Pepper if I keep my eyes, ears, and heart open!