A lesson from Elwood: don’t give up on him, or me

Elwood 1.jpg_mediumNose to glass, eyes pleading, tail wagging, Elwood used every attention-getting tactic he could muster to get me to stop, notice, and give him another chance. The young black pit bull at the animal rescue (Main Line Animal Rescue) I volunteer at surely remembered the past several times I chose to walk past his dog run in search of an easier, calmer pup to collar and leash up for a glorious field trip outside.

I remembered too. The last time I attempted to get Elwood out (a week ago, two weeks ago, perhaps), I gave up. Twenty minutes sequestered in his run dancing around like a crazy woman trying to get his collar on while he jumped, leaped, taunted, nipped on the leash, and challenged every last shred of patience in me, I gave up. On him. On me.

As I walked past his run this morning, however, it hit me: walk past him again, and he spends another hour, maybe two, maybe three, cooped up until a more patient volunteer chooses to stop. Walk past him again, and I develop that icky feeling I always get when throwing in the towel too soon. That feeling of allowing fear, frustration, and self-pity to sabotage my growth.

Caving too soon keeps us stuck. And at 45, I don’t want to feel stuck or middle-aged. It’s why I practice handstands every day and accept that flipping over is just part of the process. It’s why I practice the new training skills I’m learning from awesome trainer extraordinaire Gretchen Knittel on the rescue dogs, even when my hand cues are wrong and sometimes leave the dogs more confused than when they started. Why I attend annual week-long yoga training immersions that leave me sore for weeks afterward. To grow. To learn. To develop courage, patience, knowledge.

Today I went in. Spent 30 minutes instead of twenty, and got Elwood out to the glorious field. He ran, fetched the ball, settled in the shade by my side, and reminded me, with those adoring eyes, to not give up.

On him. Or on myself.

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