They say dogs are a man’s best friend. I’m sure the meant mankind and not just men because my very best friends have been dogs. No, I’m not the crazy dog lady, but dogs are so unconditional it’s easy to really be yourself around them and love them back with everything you have.
Years ago, I adopted a Doberman puppy. She was 4 months old, her ears had been cropped already (to my chagrin) and she lived in Florida. I wanted this little girl so much I flew to Florida to bring her back home. And I was not disappointed! She was truly the best dog I ever had. Her name was Mattie. She was the sweetest and kindest and all she wanted to do was please me.
Mattie came home with me that day, flying all the way from Florida and then riding in the car for an hour from the airport to her new abode. She was such a brave girl. I’d only been with her a few hours by then, but she already looked at me with those sweet eyes like she knew I’d be her mommy forever. She trusted me quick and I was not taking that for granted.
My human BFF Linda met me at the house along with my assistant. We introduced Mattie to her new sister, a Basenji named Chloe. Chloe was so excited to have a new friend and showed her all around the yard. Mattie engaged immediately. She came from a home that had two large litters close together so there were 15 puppies and 5 adults around all the time.
Mattie seemed thankful there was a friendly dog at the other end of this journey. Once inside the house, we sat on the floor and watched them play as they began forming their forever bond.
They chased each other for quite a while until Chloe darted up the staircase all the way to the top. She looked back in surprise when Mattie didn’t follow. Mattie, completely in love with her new playmate, stood paralyzed in shock at the stairway and Chloe was at the top of it. You could see the confusion on her face. She could not figure out what just happened and how her friend magically floated up those stairs!
Then, the amazing thing started to happen. She began thinking, how she was going to get up those stairs too. She had a huge case of FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – along with her fear of the stairs! She wanted to go wherever Chloe was going but this was scary. We could see her looking up and down the stairs, measuring the danger and the risk.
It didn’t take long before she convinced herself to try it again and off she went, darting for the steps. I thought for a moment she would fly up the stairs, but no, she had no idea how to do that and made it two steps before tumbling back down, running to my lap, the newest safe place she was sure of.
Now Chloe was confused at the top of the stairs, unsure why her new friend wouldn’t want to come join her. She came rushing back down to see what was the matter. As soon as she reached us, they touched noses and off she went again, flying up the stairs with the greatest of ease. Not to be left out, Mattie headed for the stairs again… and stopped, her puppy legs wobbling, weighing the excitement against the bumps on her knobby knees.
Then she decided... You could see it in her eyes. She decided she was going to figure this out. Off she went up the stairs… or at least 3 of them, until she came tumbling back down. This time however, she spun around to try it again. Her friend Chloe headed down the stairs in a show of encouragement but stopped, recognizing Mattie’s determined look, and off she went up to the top again.
Mattie followed her nearly a third of the way up the stairs this time! She was so proud of herself! And then looked around in shock as if to say, “what have I done!” Stumbling down the stairs, but in a bit more composed fashion, she landed in my lap again. The three of us humans belly laughed as we watched her courageousness, trying something she’d never done.
As we watched them go up and down, and up and down again, getting higher and higher up the stairs, we couldn’t help but see the same scenario that can happen for us.
With some determination and changing our thoughts from fear to fun, some openness to try something new, courage to get up again after falling and try it again, and of course, the encouragement of true friends… we can do anything we fear to do!
Mattie made it up the stairs that day. What a big win for her! She and Chloe were best buddies until the day they left for heaven. And Mattie continued to conquer fear over and over in every new thing she discovered. She wasn’t fearless, just fear less. She had taught her little mind that it was okay to try and fail. She found out it was fun, and she was always better for it.
And so are you.
What I have learned over the years is that it is okay to be grateful for our fears. If you don't conquer your fears or never try... you stop learning. It's never to late to change your thoughts, face your fears, and embrace gratitude.
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